News | 23 May 2024

EIP-AGRI Innovation Awards 2024 for Operational Groups: seven winners from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Spain

On 7 May 2024 an awards ceremony was held in Estoril, Portugal, to announce the winners of the EIP-AGRI Innovation Awards 2024 for Operational Groups

EIP-AGRI Innovation awards winners

There were six categories with five nominees in each category, and all thirty nominees competed to be voted the public favourite. The winners were Colorado Beetle Catcher: Sustainable Machine Pest Control (the Netherlands) in the category Sustainable management of natural resources; Cultivation, harvesting and processing of hemp straw and hemp seeds (Germany) in the category Business models in food supply chains; Parsutt – Parma ham high sustainability standard (Italy) in the category Animal welfare and husbandry; SUBALMA – Improving the productivity and sustainability of underground drip irrigation systems that use oil mill waste as fertiliser through the use of nanobubbles (Spain) won in the category Climate change mitigation and adaptation; Illaun Farm Forest Alliance (Ireland) in the category Sustainable forest management; and Precision farming in Brandenburg (Germany) in the category Digitalisation.

The seventh award, the ‘public favourite’ award, went to SHEEP-UP (Italy). Antonella Tormen, project manager, says “We are very happy to have received the public favourite award! We created a united working group of breeders, researchers and public bodies to enhance small mountain farms breeding sheep breeds which are at risk of extinction. It was a great team effort!” The project focuses on values such as biodiversity, sustainability and the quality of production. In total, more than 11 000 people voted online from 15 April to 3 May for their favourite project among the 30 nominees.

A jury of experts selected the winners in the 6 thematic categories. In the category ‘Sustainable management of natural resources’, the award went to an OG which has developed and tested a mechanical pest control machine for the Colorado potato beetle which has been increasing in the Netherlands due to hotter summers. In the second category ‘Business models in food supply chains,’ a German OG took the prize for their new value chains for industrial hemp which includes growing and marketing the hemp nuts and the hemp straw, on-site processing and the breeding of adapted varieties. An Italian OG won the ‘Animal welfare and husbandry’ category for their creation of a sustainability protocol for Parma ham based on high standards animal welfare and biosecurity, and responsible use of antibiotics in pig farms. For the category ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’ the award was given to Spanish SUBALMA which reuses oil mill by-products as fertilisers through techniques that guarantee maximum water-use efficiency, focusing on subsurface irrigation and injection of nanobubbles. Illaun Farm Forest Alliance from Ireland topped the category ‘Sustainable forest management’ for its farming approach to enhance forestry management and restore local woodland through community engagement. For the ‘Digitalisation’ category the winner was a German OG working to counteract soil acidification, which has developed a fully digitised site-specific soil acidity management process and decision support system for variable-rate liming.

This is the first time in the EIP-AGRI history that we have organised a competition for Operational Groups. We are delighted to see the vast array of innovations being developed across Europe. There were many excellent applications and the jury had a difficult task to select the winners. Roberto Berutti, member of the cabinet of the EU Commissioner for Agriculture