EUROCROP was a concerted action to develop a research strategy for European arable farming. Research institutes and various stakeholders drew up the main research priorities for individual arable crops and for six transversal elements: “farming systems”, “farm economics”, “outlets and markets”, “quality of agricultural products”, “environmental impacts” and “socio-economic issues”. The social relevance and priority of research goals were assessed on the basis of four future scenarios: “trade liberalisation”, “Europe of regions”, “green Europe” and “global warming”. Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART Research Station chaired the work group on environmental impacts. It was shown that the importance of conservation and the efficient use of the production resources energy, water, nutrients and soil will increase in future, with optimisation of the sustainability of cultivation systems and the nitrogen cycle being particularly important. Other issues relevant to the competitiveness of arable crops were prices, production costs as well as yield increase and stability. Adaptability to changing production conditions was deemed essential for the future, particularly in the case of plant protection. From the environmental point of view mention should also be made of issues like biodiversity, landscape ecology and protection of the aquatic environment, which have no direct relationship to productivity. Research priorities can turn out to be very different in different regions.
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.
Despite the current challenges of e.g. the war in Ukraine and climate change, the Swiss food sector is relatively resilient. This is the conclusion reached by Agroscope’s report on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply.