The Organic farming measure in the Austrian Rural Development Programme (RDP) helps preserve and enhance biodiversity; establish nutrient cycles on farms and reduce input, while also increasing soil fertility.
In Austria, as in all European countries, national natural resources like water bodies, soil and biodiversity are threatened by the intensification of farming practices. At the same time, consumer awareness regarding sustainable production systems in agriculture is on the increase. As a result conventional farmers are highly motivated to switch to organic farming.
The RDP Measure 11 (M11) organic farming supports organic farms in Austria by granting an additional premium for the extra efforts required by organic farming practices and additional commitments. The primary objectives of M11 are to preserve and enhance biodiversity, establish nutrient cycles on farms and reduce input, as well as to increase soil fertility.
In 2019, the area dedicated to organic farming made up more than a quarter of the total agricultural area in Austria.
In 2018, organic farms had a more diverse and even distribution of field type use (i.e. a higher Shannon-index), than conventional farms.
In terms of biodiversity, in 2018 organic farms presented a higher proportion of extensively managed grassland and therefore a higher plant diversity on grassland than conventional farms.