Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play an important role in agriculture, supporting a wide range of crops with nutrients. There is currently a great interest in enhancing crop productivity through field inoculations with AMF. Here, we show how inoculated AMF are able to successfully establish in eight different field soils, increasing the biomass of red clover in four out of eight soils tested. The reliability of field inoculations with AM fungi is currently largely unpredictable and the effects on crop productivity are strongly dependent on the field soils in question and on the naturally occurring AMF communities. With the aim of improving this situation, we have developed a new molecular method for determining AMF communities. To increase the success of field inoculations, we are currently investigating whether an inoculation adapted to the field site and to the naturally occurring AMF communities can be undertaken in a targeted and successful manner. The use of beneficial soil microorganisms for improving soil quality should allow us to reduce the use of agrochemical products in future, thereby improving sustainability in agriculture.
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.