Research projects

Towards a sustainable and productive EU organic greenhouse horticulture

Towards a sustainable and productive EU organic greenhouse horticulture

Acronym : BioGreenhouse

Contract Period : 19/04/2012 - 18/04/2016

Project Webpage :

Main Funder : COST

ORC Staff Contact : Anja Vieweger

To improve and disseminate knowledge for new and better production strategies, methods and technologies to support sustainable and productive organic greenhouse/protected horticulture in the EU

Project Aims:

Organic greenhouse horticulture (OGH)(i.e the production in greenhouses or polytunnels) in the EU should improve its sustainability, production and productivity. Emissions of nutrients and its footprint should be reduced. Production and productivity are too low to meet the demand of the society. The scientific challenges are to design sustainable irrigation and fertilization strategies, to reveal the mechanisms of resilience, robustness and suppressiveness for the management of pests and diseases, to integrate crop management, energy saving, renewable energy sources and new techniques and combinations with other activities and business to realize climate neutral production. This COST Action coordinates, strengthens and focuses the activities of the partners. It improves the communication, offers a common agenda, more and better knowledge for less money, sharing new techniques, an improved dissemination to OGH, basis for further collaboration in joint research proposals and support in the development of EU standards for OGH.

The main objective of the Action is to improve and disseminate knowledge for new and better production strategies, methods and technologies to support sustainable and productive organic greenhouse/protected horticulture in the EU.


WG1: Robust Planting Material

  • To develop standardized methods and protocols for the variety testing of organic greenhouse crops and for the evaluation of seed treatments. The drivers are the demand for resilient planting material and for effective and chemical free techniques for seed treatment.
  • To make available the results of international variety trials through Organic e-prints or other means of open communication.

WG2: Soil fertility, Suppressiveness and Water management

  • To develop efficient, sustainable and safe fertility and water management strategies using standardized guidelines in a systems approach for different pedo-climatic conditions.
  • To design strategies for the use of composts and other amendments in soil fertility and disease suppression.
  • To develop alternatives for peat as a substrate in the production of young plants
  • To develop sustainable and safe technologies and strategies for reducing risks in drain water recycling.

WG3: Crop Health

  • To design resilient cropping systems with a maximum use of ecological support functions to suppress greenhouse pests and diseases and enhance biological control. These functions can include functional diversity of natural enemies, food sprays, banker plants, habitat and climate management, and induced plant resistance

WG4: Energy saving and Climate neutral production

  • To analyse the energy economy and the use of fossil energy in existing organic greenhouse systems in relation to region, growing system and cropping schedule.
  • To develop options and evaluate their feasibility for climate neutral production in different regions in the EU, by specifically considering the reduction of energy demand, energy efficient process management, the use of renewable sources of energy and the climate neutral CO2 enrichment of the greenhouse air.

WG5: Sustainability and Standards

  • To assess indicators for the ecological, social and economic sustainability of organic greenhouse systems, and to specifically assess total factor productivity. This contrasts reliance on non-renewable inputs, like fossil fuel or peat, with multiple outputs like yield quantity and quality, and environmental and social services.
  • To produce roadmaps on how to improve sustainability in OGH across EU
  • To inform and give policy advice to stakeholders, especially for the development of EU standards for OGH.
  • Although the Action covers five different topics, these will all be carried out in close coordination and supported by the work in WG5 which will analyse new developments and designs in the other four WGs in terms of productivity and sustainability.

This Action aims to establish and extend a network among European and other scientists, experts and advisors to design and develop new knowledge and strategies for OGH. Wherever feasible the Action will focus on the specific aspects of OGH and on the main crops in OGH; these include fruit vegetables, tomatoes being the most important, and leafy vegetables such as salads.


Please see the list of publications on The BioGreenhouse publications page

Project Output:

Read article in ORC Bulletin 120 Spring/Summer 2016 Sustainability and productivity of organic protected cropping systems