From Tradition to Innovation: EU Project STEP UP Improving Sustainability of European Livestock Farming

From Tradition to Innovation: EU Project STEP UP Improving Sustainability of European Livestock Farming

STEP UP, a Horizon Europe project running from January 2024 to December 2027, aims to support the development of more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable European Livestock Production Systems (ELPS). The project’s 16 partners from 10 countries will actively engage in the evaluation and analysis of Innovative Livestock Production Systems (ILPS) and use the insights to upgrade traditional ELPS. The technology-driven techniques integrated in ILPS will lead to more informed and sustainable livestock farming, helping to improve efficiency, decrease environmental impact, and enhance animal welfare.

Launching of STEP UP

The project was launched by Ireland’s Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine with responsibility for research and innovation.

“Irish livestock farming is embracing a wide range of practices to improve sustainability, from breeding more sustainable animals to using less fertiliser, which also produces lower emissions, as well as incorporating multi-species swards and clover into grassland, amongst other areas. Research and innovation have driven the development of these and for this reason; I am delighted to be launching this new, pan-European research project STEP UP.”

Martin Heydon T.D. 

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of the Government of Ireland

From Challenges to Solutions

The project’s coordination team from the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre explained that STEP UP expects to convert more than 35 ELPS into healthy, and inclusive livestock systems. 

“In order to address the many challenges facing ELPS, the overall objective of STEP UP is to provide policy makers with a robust evidence base on the impacts and externalities and, in particular, their monetised values, of livestock farming as part of the food system and wider ecosystem”. 

Prof. David A. Kenny

Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre

STEP UP will help more than 3000 Farmers in 20+ European countries to improve their sustainability performance. This will bring us closer to a brighter and greener future for farmers and help transform agriculture in Europe.

Step by Step to Innovation

The road to the co-creation of ELPS suited for today’s needs starts with mapping data gaps, a step that is crucial for improving the reliability of all further analyses. The following step is establishing current Innovative Livestock Production Systems which deals with documenting and understanding developing practices in livestock management. By indicating and measuring the impact for livestock systems with a focus on quantifying the consequences of these systems, STEP UP establishes a holistic methodology for quantifying impacts. Using optimal modelling scenarios enhances the accuracy of predictive models so that, lastly, EU Livestock Systems foresight can predict future trends and strategies for sustainable livestock systems in Europe.

The experts gathered around STEP UP will use a multi-actor approach to disseminate evidence-based STEP UP knowledge of ELPS as part of the food system and wider ecosystem. The project will actively involve farmers, on-field livestock practitioners, data providers, research institutions and industry experts, policymakers, the European Commission, and other key agriculture actors.

Finally, STEP UP will provide a unique and warranted platform to support the development of informed and objective policy measures to optimise the central role of livestock in meeting the nutritional and societal needs of the European and global population.

Evidence-based STEP UP knowledge of ELPS as part of the food system and wider ecosystem will be disseminated using the multi-actor approach.

Collaboration is the key

STEP UP’s collaborative approach brings together reputable partners from all over Europe – TEAGASC, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, INRAE, Wageningen University & Research, IFIP – Institut du porc, The European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders, The Spanish National Research Council, Foodscale Hub, Institute De L’elevage, FeedInov CoLab, Germany’s Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, The Poznań University of Life Sciences, Thuenen, IST-ID, Institut Technique de l’Aviculture and Queen’s University Belfast.

The STEP UP project has been funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme. The project has also received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee. All the information is available on the project’s website, as well as on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.