In a project of the evaluation of ecological measures in Swiss agriculture, the goal of an average reduction of nitrate content in groundwater by 5 mg NO3/l between the period of 1990 to 1992 and 2005 is examined in four regions of the canton of Berne. Up to 2001, the nitrate content of 214 water catchments with farmland in the drainage basin decreased by 1.8 to 18 mg NO3/l. In comparison with this, the nitrate content of 49 water catchments with wooded and unproductive areas in the drainage basin decreased only by 0.3 to 7 mg NO3/l. In the Bernese Central Plain and in the Prealps, there was a significant decrease of nitrate content in catchments with farmland in the drainage basins, yet not in the Jura and in the Alps. In the assumption of a constant trend in the next years, the reduction goal will only be achieved in the Prealps.
Those wishing to promote biodiversity in agriculture by means of result-based schemes need meaningful indicators. An overview of proposed and used indicators highlights developments and challenges.
Foods of animal origin – friend or foe? It all depends on the needs of consumers and on local production conditions, as shown by a major review in which Agroscope took part.
In vegetable production it is usual to leave crop residues on the field. Measurements carried out by Agroscope researchers show that removing these residues significantly reduces nitrate leaching.