Bernese Office for Agriculture and Environment, Rütti, Zollikofen

The canton of Berne promotes conservation of natural resources

Since the late 1950s agricultural production on arable land has been strongly intensified. As a consequence of primarily physical soil stress brought about by tillage operations, the fertility of arable soils is at risk. A strategy of action introducing a practicable cropping system, which combines the conservation of natural resources with economical benefits, was required. Conservation tillage, in particular no-tillage, fulfils both these criteria. In the canton of Berne (Switzerland) conservation tillage is being encouraged with financial incentives since 1993. The farmers involved commit to loosening their soils only superficially or to refrain from soil loosening. Innovative private contractors made a valuable contribution to promoting no-tillage among farmers. At the same time, countrywide awareness about no-tillage was successfully raised through counselling, publications, field trials and a national discussion platform. The new article 77a, which is planned to be included in the Federal Law on Agriculture, establishes the provision of federal funds to supplement the cantonal incentives. It thus provides the means to extend conservation agriculture to the entire area of arable land.

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