The concept of a sustainable development of agriculture tends to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It consists of a model for the balanced management of a system with five capital assets: financial capital, human capital, physical man-made capital, social capital and natural capital. A major challenge for a more sustainable agriculture in Europe is to increase productivity at an equal or lower consumption rate of the natural capital. This may be achieved by increasing efficiency, by substitution of non-renewable external inputs and by optimising synergisms by re-design of cropping and live stock systems. Thereby, optimisation of key processes of the agroecosystem is of crucial importance. Research may support a sustainable development of agriculture by contributions to the discussion of common goals, by providing knowledge about the ecosystems such as carrying capacity and cause effect relations as well as by the development of decision support systems for farmers for a more sustainable farm management.
Gilgen A., Felder R., Baumgartner S., Herzog F., Jeanneret P., Séchaud R., Paunovic S., Merbold L.
Agroscope researchers tested the FAO method for assessing the agroecological status of farms in Switzerland for the first time, demonstrating the advantages of a holistic evaluation as well as the limits of the tool.
In wheat crops, pesticides can be used more sparingly without sacrificing cost-efficiency. With oilseed rape the situation is more difficult, since the reduced yields are not offset by higher revenues. These are the findings of the analysis of the first two harvest years of the PestiRed project.
Soil samples can be measured directly in the field by means of spectroscopy. Agroscope researchers have tested mobile devices and shown how to make the best use of them.