For some field crops, and especially fruits and berries, harvested yield quantity and quality are dependent on pollination by insects. According to global estimates, honeybees and wild bees contribute equally to this ecosystem service, although there are no systematic studies for Switzerland. Now, for the first time, and with the help of data on the area and distribution of insect-dependent crops and their yields, the direct economic value for Switzerland of pollination services was calculated, and shown to range between CHF 205 and 479 million per year. In Switzerland, pollination-dependent crops are cultivated on approx. 5 % of the utilised agricultural area and 14 % of the arable land. On a nationwide average, the potential spatial coverage of these crops by honeybees is relatively good. Particularly on the western Central Plateau and in the Valais, however, coverage is patchy. Whether this leads to yield losses owing to pollination deficits, and whether and how the targeted support of naturally occurring wild bees or the use of additional honeybees and managed wild bees contributes to a better pollination outcome, will require further investigations.
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.