To conserve and enhance biodiversity in agricultural areas, the Swiss Confederation uses two different approaches that support biodiversity enhancement areas (Biodiversitäts-Förderflächen, BFF). The action-oriented approach (Massnahmen-orientierter Ansatz, MOA) compensates farmers for prescribed management measures, whereas the result-oriented approach (Resultat-orientierter Ansatz, ROA) compensates farmers for proven ecological results. This second approach, which in the Swiss Ordinance on Direct Payments in Agriculture builds on the MOA, is expected to be more effective and efficient. This is of particular significance in the mountain regions where future biodiversity losses are expected to increase. The successful implementation of result-oriented measures demands much commitment and initiative of the mountain farmers. To develop such commitment, farmers must first accept the ROA. To assess how mountain farmers perceive the ROA compared with the MOA and if they are willing to implement result-oriented measures, 146 Swiss German farmers in mountain zones I–IV were interviewed using a written questionnaire. Three out of four farmers interviewed prefer the MOA over the ROA for biodiversity enhancement because they think the MOA involves fewer inspections and assures more direct payments than the ROA. Organic and low-input mountain farmers are more willing to implement the ROA than conventional farmers. All respondents call for a more long-term planning horizon and higher payments for biodiversity enhancement areas to compensate them for any increased commitment with respect to both the ROA and the MOA. Mountain farmers who prefer the ROA prefer other specific framework conditions for the successful implementation of result-oriented measures than mountain farmers who prefer the MOA. These results can be used to deliver targeted and effective communications to the public sector and educational programmes to mountain farmers.
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation by bacteria in the soil coexisting with legumes leads to reduced fertiliser requirement. It is not easy to measure this variable on farms, however. Now researchers from Agroscope have developed a method for estimating nitrogen input via symbiotic fixation at farm level.
With increasing global and regional temperatures, even in Switzerland the growing season has lengthened considerably. Using data from the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, Agroscope has traced the development of the growing season since the start of the previous century.
The phosphate mineral reserves required for fertiliser production could be exhausted on a global scale in just a few decades. This study presents a method for recycling a Swiss industrial by-product into a phosphate fertiliser.