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.
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.