Agroscope researchers tested the FAO method for assessing the agroecological status of farms in Switzerland for the first time, demonstrating the advantages of a holistic evaluation as well as the limits of the tool.
In wheat crops, pesticides can be used more sparingly without sacrificing cost-efficiency. With oilseed rape the situation is more difficult, since the reduced yields are not offset by higher revenues. These are the findings of the analysis of the first two harvest years of the PestiRed project.
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.
To calculate erosion risk in Swiss field crops, the effect of different arable crops on the risk of erosion was determined. Calculations for the whole of Switzerland show that although erosion risk is on average low, it is not negligible everywhere.
In dairy cows, herbage-based diets often lead to increased nitrogen excretion. Tanniferous sainfoin and extract of acacia can reduce nitrogen excretion from urine and thus ammonia volatilization from slurry.
Agroscope researchers calculated the nitrogen and phosphorus inputs into Swiss water bodies for the year 2020. Although these inputs decreased in comparison to 2010, the 'agriculture' environmental target for nitrogen inputs was missed by a significant margin.
By 2025, the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) aims to control the vegetation in the track area without herbicides. Agroscope tested the effectiveness of hot-water treatments in a three-year trial and rates this method as a suitable alternative to herbicides.
Agroscope compiles annually updated inventories and projections for Swiss agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. With the change to reporting under the Paris Agreement, new bases for calculation must be taken into account. Despite this, the overall picture for agriculture remains largely unchanged.
Suitable both as food for humans and as livestock feed, sorghum thrives even in an increasingly dry climate. Agroscope has developed maps showing the potential growing areas for silage- and grain sorghum.
Pest prevention plays an important role in reducing pesticide use. Nevertheless, the use of such measures is below the social optimum. A generally cautious attitude towards risk and adoption of other risk management measures hinder farmers' prevention efforts.
A review on the current scientific literature showed that pesticides are widely present in soils, water and air and have a potential to contaminate organic produce. These contamination pathways must be considered when findings of pesticide residues are investigated.
Agroscope has developed risk indicators which show the development of risks associated with the use of plant protection products for important environmental compartments, describe the risk potential of the active substances and take account of legal measures for risk mitigation.
Do farmers who produce in environmentally friendly ways earn less income? As an Agroscope study shows, this needs not be the case, and farmers can actually generate more revenue by protecting the environment.
Which measures are suitable for significantly reducing pesticide use in field crops? In the PestiRed project, farmers rate the implemented measures as largely positive; with a differentiated result for economic efficiency.
The reduction of environmental risks from plant protection products is to be monitored by the Confederation using a risk indicator. The indicator also takes into account the degree of implementation of risk reduction measures in practice. This degree of implementation was estimated by a study.
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.
A comparison of different methods of winter-wheat fertilisation with nitrogen showed that nitrogen surpluses can be significantly reduced by means of site-specific variable-rate nitrogen fertilisation.
Many tile drainage systems on arable land are in need of renewal. Cantons and stakeholders will now be given a decision-making tool enabling them to assess such areas in detail and to find sustainable solutions.
Ammonia emissions from the Swiss farming sector have scarcely declined over the past 20 years. This is because the factors leading to either an increase or decrease in emissions have for the most part cancelled each other out between 2000 and 2020.
Agroscope has highlighted for the first time the factors that are key for the targeted, large-scaled promotion of biodiversity in agriculture. Focusing on agriculture as a whole is especially important.
Agroscope has developed a scoring system for plant protection in vegetable crops. The system enables the creation of incentives for reducing the use and environmental risks of plant-protection products and promoting preventive and non-chemical measures.
Many consumer goods contain activated carbon, which can be contaminated with pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Agroscope showed that current analytical methods and legal bases used to address PAH content are incomplete.
Dry summers can see a loss of up to 25% of total Swiss roughage production. This is because grassland yields are strongly correlated with summer drought, as shown by a new analysis conducted by Agroscope and the Swiss Farmers’ Union.