Since 1992 an intensive (IS), an integrated (IP) and a low input (LI) farming system are compared on all arable plots of the Burgrain farm. The number of pesticide treatments in the integrated and the low input system was 63 % and 83 % lower than in the conventional, rather intensive farming system. Also the input of mineral nitrogen was reduced by 22 % in IP and by 37 % in LI. In the integrated system mean yields of potatoes, corn and cereals were 4 %, 5 % and 14 % lower than in the intensive system. In LI these differences were 10 %, 9 % and 17 %. In contrast, yields of clover-grass meadows showed almost no differences between the farming systems. Differences in gross margins between the farming systems were mainly due to differences in yields. Over the seven arable crops the gross margin of IP and LI was 62.- and 265.- Swiss francs smaller per hectare and year than in IS. However the less intensive systems achieved a comparable or better net profit than IS due to the direct payments of the Swiss government for integrated or organic farming.
Thanks to their unique landscapes, the 15 Swiss parks, the majority of which are located in the (pre-)Alps and in the Jura Arc, feature as tourist attractions. But do the parks also provide economic value-added for local agriculture?
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.