Aims and structure of the TILMAN-ORG project

Project aims

Organic farming systems contribute to ecosystem services such as the maintenance of soil quality and biodiversity. Reduced tillage and green manures are efficient conservation agriculture tools that can be adapted to further improve organic crop production systems.

The TILMAN-ORG project’s overall goals are to design improved organic cropping systems with:

  1. enhanced productivity and nutrient use efficiency,
  2. more efficient weed management and
  3. increased biodiversity, but
  4. lower carbon footprints (in particular increased carbon sequestration and lower GHG emissions from soils).

These goals will be achieved by adapting and integrating conservation agriculture techniques (in particular reduced tillage and improved use of green manures) into organic farming systems to intensify biological soil functions like nutrient cycling, soil carbon build-up, and biological nitrogen fixation, while at the same time optimising management protocols for weeds (which are the main challenge when introducing minimum tillage systems).

Optimum techniques for organic systems will be identified using an integrated approach:

  1. Farmers' experiences and perceptions about reduced tillage and green manures will be assessed in semi-structured interviews. Existing data from medium and long-term trials on reduced tillage and green manures provided by the consortium and the published existing peer reviewed and grey literature, will be evaluated with respect to yield stabilisation, soil quality and biodiversity (work packages 1 and 2).
  2. Experimental Case Studies on soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions, weed management and functional biodiversity, and improved nutrient management will be carried out, and carbon stocks under reduced tillage compared to ploughing will be measured (work packages 3 to 5). Data from long-term tillage trials across Europe will be exploited to calibrate NDICEA, a decision support tool to predict soil organic carbon and nitrogen fluxes in the soil - plant system.
  3. Design of optimised cropping systems by modelling approaches based on results from the literature and case studies (work package 6). This will also involve the preparation of guidelines focused on helping farmers to address weed management challenges, and temporary shortages of nitrogen supply in order to improve yields and yield stability, thus improving both the environmental and economic sustainability of organic farming systems.

The project’s dissemination activities will target farmers, advisors, and the scientific community, but also the agricultural support industries and policy makers. The main innovative strategy of the project is to adapt conservation agriculture approaches to organic farming drawing on existing field experiments across Europe.

Project Structure

The project organisational structure consists of a coordinator, a deputy coordinator, work package managers, a management board, and a stakeholder group. All project participants are part of the General Assembly.

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The coordinator of TILMAN-ORG is Paul Mäder of the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (

Christophe David of the French ISARA ( acts as deputy coordinator.

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Work package managers

The  managers of the work packages report to the co-ordinator and are fully responsible for all the tasks in their respective work packages.

Within a work package each task is led by a task leader. All work package managers are members of the management board.

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Management board

The management board, consisting of the coordinator, the deputy coordinator and the work package managers, monitors the effective and efficient implementation of the project, arranges the meetings and sets the agenda for meetings of the general assembly.

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Work package participants

Work package participants, under the supervision of the work package managers, contribute to  the specific tasks within each work package,  scientific reporting on their activities to the work pacakge manager, peer-reviewed publications and (d) project meetings. All work package particpants are part of the general assembly.

Stakeholder group

The Stakeholder group, consisting of scientists, advisors and farmers from partner countries with experience and expertise in conservation agriculture and/or organic farming, will advise the management board on the general direction of the project and alert them to new developments in the field that may impact on project outcomes.

The stakeholder group will be established in the first two months of the project, and will be organised by the coordinator with the help of national feedback from all TILMAN-ORG partners.

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