More and more farmers consider to switch from conventional to organic production. What effect, then, does this have on yield and environmental performance? In particular, the question of how the duration of organic management affects plant yield, weed populations, biodiversity and soil fertility has rarely been investigated. To investigate this question, we compared 34 plots distributed over four farm categories – conventional, recently converted, and «new» and «old» organic farms. Our study shows that crop yield and soil fertility remain constant as length of time under organic management increases. Similarly, weed pressure has not increased along with duration of organic management. Weed abundance did, however, vary strongly among fields, with problematic weeds being highly abundant at specific field sites. This study demonstrates that duration of organic management does not have a negative impact on either plant yield or soil fertility on mixed-economy farms under Swiss conditions
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are important for healthy soils and crops. A pan-European study shows that plant-protection products adversely affect these fungi, reducing their ability to supply plants with phosphorus via their roots.
Birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin are used in mixtures for perennial hay meadows and for tannin-containing fodder. Agroscope is adding two new cultivars of birdsfoot trefoil to the ‘List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants’, whilst there is no change in the case of sainfoin.
Tall oat grass and golden oat grass are typical hay-meadow grasses that are also suitable for forage mixtures. Of the four tall and three golden oat grass varieties tested, only one new variety of tall oat grass is likely to make it onto the List of Recommended Varieties.