First Edition of 2023 OFB Ecophyto National Call for Projects Launched

The OFB has announced the deadline for the first 2023 Ecophyto Call for Projects. The first call of the French national programme will focus on systemic approaches to reduce the use of herbicides and their impacts.

The Office Français pour la Biodiversité (OFB – French Office for Biodiversity) is a public establishment that is part of the Ministries of Ecological Transition and of Agriculture and Food. It supports the implementation of public policies on knowledge, preservation, management and recovering the biodiversity of different land and marine environments.

As part of the Ecophyto II + plan, calls for projects are launched each year to support projects aimed at reducing the use of plant protection products and limiting their risks and impacts. The Ecophyto National Call for Projects aims to support projects that could contribute to the implementation of the Ecophyto II + plan’s actions in metropolitan France and overseas territories.

For 2023, the programme is scheduled to launch two calls. The first 2023 call will focus on the priority topic: Employing systemic approaches to reduce the use of herbicides and their impacts, particularly in aquatic areas and water resources.

As herbicides have potentially harmful effects for humans, for biodiversity and for water quality, reducing their use is a key aspect of the Ecophyto II+ plan. Substitution-based approaches can only provide a partial solution to the problem so the programme understands that adopting a systemic approach will be necessary.

The call will seek projects proposing innovative solutions that will help to limit the use of herbicides by bringing together a range of alternative or complementary methods to the use of phytopharmaceutical synthesis products. These methods may be preventive and/or curative and may involve crop rotation, culture diversification, plant covers, biocontrol products, agroequipment that can be used to replace treatment (such as mechanical weeding materials). Projects may also aim to produce knowledge transfer references for advisors to farmers regarding the agroecological transition or for farmers themselves in order to demonstrate solutions and promote alternatives.

Projects may target farms located close to water catchments used to produce drinking water in order to assess the expected and real impacts in improving the quality of the water resource. Inter-sector projects originating from the action plan to anticipate the removal of active substances may provide useful elements to the projects.

Proposals should be based on one or more of the following thematic axes:

  • (Re)conception of culture systems to efficiently control weeds.
  • Support for the appropriation of existing techniques.
  • Pairing means for managing weeds with means for limiting seed stock replenishment.

Projects that do not align with the priority topic may still be considered if they fall within the framework of certain Ecophyto II+ actions and axes outlined in the call document.

Proposals must be national or ultramarine in scope. This includes projects producing results or information of national or ultramarine interest and/or projects involving a promotional action (demonstration, transfer, diffusion) at a national or ultramarine level. The involvement of multiple regional territories is usually necessary.

Projects on the priority theme have a budget of €600,000 maximum per project. All expenses directly related to the project are eligible. Funding will also cover staffing costs, internship allowances, small equipment and consumables, travel costs for permanent and temporary staff assigned to the project and service provision.

The maximum project duration is 36 months.

Applications must be submitted by 31 August 2023.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)