New standards for sustainable agriculture - Fraunhofer IKTS advises agricultural certifiers

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The Fraunhofer IKTS advises the world's leading certification body for agriculture GLOBALG.A.P. on the revision of its certification standards for "Good Agricultural Practice". The Institute is contributing its expertise in the areas of water treatment, nutrient recycling, closed-loop and cognitive agriculture.

Certificate handover at Fruit Logistica 2020 in Berlin. From left to right: Thomas Zoellner (FarmTech Society), Nicole Thorpe (Cultinova), Barbara Lippmann (SGS Germany), Kristian Moeller (GLOBALG.A.P.), Nuray Cakirli (infarm), Nico Domurath (Fraunhofer IKTS), Guy Callebaut (GLOBALG.A.P.).

GLOBALG.A.P. stands for “Good Agricultural Practice“ worldwide – this voluntary certification standard for agricultural products has been defining criteria for safe and sustainable agriculture for 20 years. Farmers today are under increasing pressure to meet high consumer expectations and the challenges of climate and resource protection through efficient and future-oriented production methods.

With an open stakeholder dialogue, GLOBALG.A.P. wants to make its certification standard fit for the future together with the industry association FarmTech Society and other advisory actors, including the Fraunhofer IKTS. This was recently confirmed by the organization at a press conference during the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin.

Digitization in agriculture

In the future, criteria for new technologies and cultivation methods will be added to the GLOBALG.A.P. standard. Furthermore, a specific certification is planned for innovative "indoor" cultivation systems, i.e. for products grown in controlled environments. Digital tools for real-time monitoring and data collection will facilitate the certification process for farmers and improve transparency and traceability. Furthermore, a stronger focus on sustainability criteria is planned, supported by scientifically-based risk assessments.

"An efficient recycling of nutrients, water and energy, including the use of digital tools, will make agriculture – whether "indoor" or in the field – more sustainable and competitive. We are pleased to contribute our expertise in this field to the revision of the world's leading agricultural standard at a pre-competitive level," explains Nico Domurath of Fraunhofer IKTS.

Open call for design and information collection

Farmers, retailers, science and supply chain experts are now invited to actively participate in the "design and information gathering". Consultations with partners and stakeholders are then planned f June 2020. Initial pilot trials in key supply chains are planned for autumn 2020, followed by a market-wide peer review. The new certification standard is then to be introduced in 2021.