The ecological compensatory areas were investigated at 14 Swiss farms with field grown vegetables in the frame work of the EU-project VEGINECO. From 1997 to 2000 the percentage of these areas were ca. 17% at organic farms and ca. 7% at integrated farms. According to the opinion of organic farmers the main advantage of ecological compensation is the increase of biodiversity, the main disadvantage is the increase of pests. However, according to integrated farmers the most important advantage is the protection against soil erosion and the most important disadvantages are the loss of production area and the limitation of free management. There were only small differences between the organic and integrated farms concerning the types of ecological compensation. The main type was the extensive meadow. Most of these meadows had a high quality. The evaluation method for ecological infrastructure, developed during the project, showed good results for two selected pilot farms. However, the applicability of this method in Switzerland is limited.
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.