Agro-ecological Knowledge Hub




Specific sustainability challenge

  • How to integrate agro-ecological practices on arable land in highly market-oriented arable farming systems to maintain and improve soil quality without significant negative impacts on the economic viability of farms?

Key Dilemma and key reseach question

  • How can barriers and drivers of a transition towards sustainable AEFS be addressed in the specific case study context ?
  • What are the socio-economic and environmental implications of the transition to agro-ecological farming?
  • Why were innovative strategies and incentives successful (or unsuccessful) in enhancing the joint provision of private and public goods of AEFS in a specific case study context?
  • How to  secure economic and social sustainability at a farm level through having a viable production of private and public goods (without being overly dependent on public funds)?

Potential key barriers for transition

  • Lack of knowledge and openness to alternative practices and technologies, farmer attitudes towards agro-ecological farming, low social capital, lack of capital, credit and bank guarantee for investment in specific machinery, lack of specific agro-ecological advisory services, soil as natural resource with underrepresented social/institutional value

Short description of key characteristics

  • Sustainability issue: Pressure on natural resource: soil quality and its ecological sustainability, social and economic trade-offs 
  • Case study theme focus: national, farm level investigations in Belső Somogy
  • Farm production type: arable systems, specialist crop production, market-oriented farming
  • Agro-ecological practices include extensive margins, nutrient management, reduced/no tillage, conservation management of soils
  • Level of Cooperation: Some farmers cooperate with industrial input supplier in environmental management (demonstrations: soil conservation, field margins management). Sub-regional self-organizing cooperation for agri production and selling.

Key actors involved

  • Authorities and Administration – representatives from local, regional and national governments, policy-makers, regulatory and managing authorities, regional enterprise and planning authorities and technical staff
  • National Rural Development Agency, local governments, NébiH: National Food Security Authority 
  • Farmers/Agri-food value chain – Public-private businesses and (representatives of) farmers and agri-food value chain actors 
  • Farmers union (NAK: National Agricultural Chamber), Input manufacturers/suppliers, Integrators, Agricultural machinery manufacturers/suppliers
  • NGOs, civic society organisations, local community representatives – These groups will be invited to participate in knowledge sharing activities, and identify opportunities for UNISECO to address local issues, and co-construct local implementation.
  • Biokultúra Association, Magyar Természetvédők Országos Szövegsége (Friends of the Earth Hungary), HU Association of Permaculture (Magyar Permakultúra Egyesület, MAPER),  Regenerative Agriculture (TMMG Talaj Megújító Mezőgazdaság), Birdlife Hungary (MME)
  • Science and innovation – Szent István University, RISSAC: Academy’s Research Inst. Of Soil Sci., National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre (NAIK) 
  • Consumers – to discuss how the outcomes are relevant to the everyday lives of people – no processing in farms, no direct connection of farmers with consumers. – TVE: Association of Conscious Consumers

Expected Results

  • Improved understanding of barriers and drivers of transitions to AEFS in intensive agricultural areas
  • Co-constructed novel and effective market mechanisms and policy instruments to improve the sustainability of intensive arable farming systems
  • Enhanced evidence of the sustainability implications of different agro-ecological transition paths of arable farming systems
  • Improved knowledge base of agro-ecological farming for use by policy-makers with at EU, national and regional levels, advisors, farmers, value chain actors and consumers

Also see: newsitem "Preserving soil quality and soil health in arable farming: the case study in Hungary"


Guisepelli, E. et al. (2018): Adapted SES Framework for AEFS and Guidelines for Assessing Sustainability of Agricultural Systems in Europe. Deliverable Report D2.1, UNISECO Project. 



Project flyer (HU)

Talajkímélő gazdálkodás Magyarországon: álom vagy valóság? (presentation in HU)

Slides of the forum with farmers 8 September 2020 (in Hungarian)

Related newsitems: