The fauna of beneficial epigeic arthropods (carabids, staphylinids and spiders) was compared in three different farming systems (integrated intensive, integrated extensive and biological systems) at Burgrain during 1997 to 2002. The predatory insects and spiders were captured with Barber traps. Between the tree investigated cultures – summer barley, winter wheat and maize – the number of carabid beetles was quite similar. However, the abundance of carabids in the organic farming systems was significantly higher than in the integrated systems. Compared with integrated intensive (100 %), the bio systems contained 122 % of carabids, the integrated extensive 108 %. Analysis of the communities showed small differences of species between the farming systems. Altogether 55 species of carabid beetles have been identified. Also staphylinids and spiders were more frequent in the biological plots. More staphylinids were captured in cereals than in maize. Despite of the predominance of some botanical species in the fallow strip, more species of carabid beetles were captured than in the arable fields. However, the densities of the individuals in the neighbouring fields were not influenced by the fallow strip.
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.