Development of an overall concept for performance-differentiated and coherent compensation of environmental services in organic farming (2020 -2022)

Project goal

The overall objective of the project is to develop an implementable concept for the differentiated and coherent remuneration of environmental services in organic farming. This is intended to align the level of premium payments to organic farms more closely with the extent of their performance.


As part of a comprehensive literature review in 2018, an interdisciplinary research consortium processed the current state of knowledge on the environmental services of organic agriculture in a structured manner and evaluated the results of relevant scientific comparative studies (Sanders and Heß, 2019). According to this, organic farming provides additional services for the environment and society in numerous areas. However, the benefits differ from farm to farm. The costs for these additional efforts have so far been compensated by area-based subsidies. The amount of the premiums is calculated on the basis of regionally average additional costs and revenue losses of organic production compared to conventional farming. So far, the subsidies have been justified in general terms with reference to the environmental benefits of organic farming, without, however, specifying these further. Since no further, performance-related differentiation is made in the premium structure, the current payment system does not offer any incentives to implement management practices that go beyond the statutory organic minimum conditions, i.e. the EU organic regulation.

Project structure

The research concept is being implemented by eight research institutes. The overall project is divided into three sub-modules:

  • Module A "Contribution of organic agriculture to societal goals".
  • Module B "Concept for efficient rewarding of societal benefits".
  • Module C "Overall control and transfer

Module C coordinates all overarching activities and serves to closely interlink Modules A and B. (see figure) The remuneration system is intended to cover the protected goods of soil, water, biodiversity, climate and air. The Department of Organic Agriculture and Plant Production of the University of Kassel takes over the area of water.

Water protection work area

The systems approach to organic agriculture includes:

  • a combination of diverse crop rotations including legumes, undersowing and intercropping.
  • the management of leguminous nitrogen
  • limiting the amount of fertilizer used, without any chargeable nitrogen losses during the storage and spreading of farm manure
  • integration of animal husbandry with simultaneous limitation of the number of animals and the purchase of fertilizers

These specific management practices (or system elements) of organic agriculture will be examined for their effect on water conservation performance using a biometric analysis, and the causal relationships of these practices will be presented. Likewise, site conditions such as soil type and rainfall will be included in this causal chain due to their influence on leachate quantity and discharge.


04 May 2020 - 31 May 2022

Participants in FÖL

Other research institutes involved

  • Bioland Consulting GmbH
  • Research Institute for Organic Agriculture
  • Julius Liebig University
  • Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Thünen Institute for Farm Management
  • Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research


BMEL (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture)

BÖLN (Federal Program for Organic Farming and Other Forms of Sustainable Agriculture)