Between 1997 – 1999, earthworm populations were investigated in a six years’ crop rotation with three different farming systems at Burgrain. The biomass was mainly influenced by the crop specific cultivation method. Especially negative for anectic groups of species were ploughing in autumn before winter wheat and ploughing in spring before maize (periods of main lumbricid activity). During the following two years of meadows, the earthworm populations recovered again. The number of earthworms increased by 34% and the biomass increased by 66%. Among the farming systems, only small differences were found. However a detailed analysis of the communities of earthworm showed that significantly more earthworms of endogenic species were present in organic farming systems than in the intensive farming systems.
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation by bacteria in the soil coexisting with legumes leads to reduced fertiliser requirement. It is not easy to measure this variable on farms, however. Now researchers from Agroscope have developed a method for estimating nitrogen input via symbiotic fixation at farm level.
With increasing global and regional temperatures, even in Switzerland the growing season has lengthened considerably. Using data from the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, Agroscope has traced the development of the growing season since the start of the previous century.
The phosphate mineral reserves required for fertiliser production could be exhausted on a global scale in just a few decades. This study presents a method for recycling a Swiss industrial by-product into a phosphate fertiliser.