This requires a research design that is compatible with an ecological approach that factors in biodiversity and ecosystem services. All of these aspects make organic farming research a greater challenge than conventional research.

Where is research most urgently needed?

Among the top research priorities identified over the years by organic farmers and practitioners are weed management, plant breeding leading to locally adapted and higher yielding seed, soil fertility restoration, biological control, practical biodiversity, and marketing and policy incentives.

Weed management. Organic farmers depend on a combination of cultural, physical and biological practices to reduce yield losses from weed pressure. No-till annual cropping systems avoiding herbicides hold great promises for carbon sequestration and soil conservation, but will take years to optimise. Cover crops offer a low-cost and ecology-based method to  suppress weeds when their variety selection and timing can be optimised.

Plant breeding for low-input and organic farming conditions.