In the mountains, hay harvesting represents a significant task for farmers. To make this job easier and speed up the harvest, farmers are gradually replacing rakes with leaf blowers. The Swiss nature conservancy organisation Pro Natura and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Research Station Agroscope are currently evaluating the potential effects of leaf blowers on the plant diversity of dry grasslands – habitats which are already under severe threat. In this study, plant surveys are carried out annually on a meadow where plots with the two types of harvest alternate. The analysis of the data collected in 2013 does not attest to any impact of blowers on plant diversity species composition, the presence of target or characteristic species, or moss cover. By contrast, position on the slope has an influence on the number of species, which is higher at the bottom of the slope on all plots. Moss cover is greater at the top of the blown plots and at the bottom of the raked plots.
Grass-based beef production is markedly less productive than intensive year-round indoor-housing system-based production. Agroscope experts therefore studied how grass-based farms can produce both economically and in an ecologically sound manner.
Orchard crop spraying using unmanned aerial spraying systems commonly referred to as drones can lead to drift, posing a risk to residents and bystanders. The study shows that the risks arising from this are taken into account by the current registration process.
Trials conducted by FiBL have shown that conversion to organic farming also promotes endangered Red List species such as the carabid beetle species Amara tricuspidata. This species and other species consume seeds of forbs and grasses and thus supports natural weed control.