The spread of no-till farming in Switzerland

No-tillage, which has diverse ecological and economic advantages, is an effective measure for protecting against erosion that has become more important in Switzerland in recent years. Since the mid-1980s, the amount of land on which this method is used increased from a few hectares to about 12,000 hectares by 2006. Although this is still quite a small proportion of the country’s total arable land (3%), on a regional basis the area under direct seeding is sometimes considerable. The maps in the present article give a national overview of the spatial distribution of no-tillage in 2006. Data on which these maps are based were compiled from a survey of farmers and contractors carried out in the winter of 2006-2007. Although the maps show very heterogeneous patterns, different regions with substantial amounts of no-tillage are visible. An interpretation of these patterns reveals that the distribution of no-tillage can be explained by a variety of factors and not only by the natural conditions in a particular area. The role of cantonal programs to promote no-tillage is just as important as the personal engagement of specialists and direct contractors, existing agricultural networks, and the lifeworlds of farmers.

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