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Environment

Luka H., Knecht, M., Whiting L., Studer M., Luka-Stan A., Forlin L. and Cahenzli F.

Weeds? – Sown Wildflower Strips and Crop-Accompanying Flora Promote Beneficials in Cabbage Production

FiBL field trials demonstrate that sown wildflowers together with the spontaneous arable weed flora in cabbage fields can promote predatory beneficial insects and pollinators. This makes it possible to enhance the ecological value of production areas.
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Environment

Graf R., Hagist D., Zellweger-Fischer J., Chevillat V., von Sury R. and Birrer S.

Quantity and Quality of Semi-Natural Elements within the Swiss Lowland Farmland

In the Swiss lowland, the quantity of biodiversity promoting areas (BPA, i.e. options of the Swiss agri-environment scheme) clearly exeeds the stipulated 7%.The quality of the BPA has been improved as well. However, three forth of the BPA are still barely recognizable as semi-natural areas in the field.
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Environment

Korkaric M., Hanke I., Grossar D., Neuweiler R., Christ B., Wirth J., Hochstrasser M., Dubuis P.-H., Kuster T., Breitenmoser S., Egger B., Perren S., Schürch S., Aldrich A., Jeker L., Poiger T., Daniel O.

High-Risk Plant Protection Products – Is Effective Crop Protection Possible Without Them?

Agroscope examined whether it is possible to forgo the use of PPPs with a high risk potential for the environment. The results show that this would make effective crop protection more difficult, especially for field and vegetable crops, but also in organic farming.
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Environment

Maurer C., Müller D., Lanfranchi M., Weisskopf P., Oberholzer H., Walder F.

Measuring Life in the Soil

Microbial activity in the soil is an indicator of soil health. An analysis of data series from the cantonal soil-monitoring networks over a ten-year period confirms textbook knowledge and shows what we need to look out for.
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Environment

Chiaia-Hernández A.C., Scheringer M., Müller A., Stieger G., Wächter D., Keller A., Pintado-Herrera M.G., Lara-Martin P.A., Bucheli T.D. und Hollender J.

Early Recognition and Systematic Recording of Organic Pollutants in Soils and Sediments

Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag and ETH have developed a method for the comprehensive detection of organic pollutant residues in soils and sediments. Initial results show that, in addition to known substances, there are also a number of substances detected for the first time.
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Environment

Sutter L., Aebi A., Buchwalder G., Caballé P., Dietemann V., Girardin O., Hernandez J., Jacopin-Bucher E., Mayor P., Ménétrier V., Praz Ch., Varennes Y.-D.

Farmers, beekeepers and researchers unite to safeguard pollinators

Recent studies show a decline in the abundance and diversity of wild pollinators, as well as an increase in honeybee mortality. These pollinators are an integral part of biodiversity and play an essential role in the growing of certain crops and in wild plant reproduction. In the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Jura, and in…
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Environment

Kalberer A., Kawecki-Wenger D., Bucheli Th.

Plastic waste flows in Swiss agriculture and their risk potential for soils

Plastic products are omnipresent in our everyday lives and are so versatile and efficient that it is difficult to imagine modern agriculture without them. However, in combination with littering and as foreign materials in digestate and compost fertilisers, they are also the main source of plastic inputs on agricultural land. Using material flow analysis, this…
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Environment

Janker J., Fuchs K., Krütli P.

Social sustainability in agriculture: a media analysis

Nowadays, the term «sustainability» is ubiquitous – in politics, in science, and in everyday speech. What it means, however, and what ideas are associated with it, varies significantly. Thus, for example, the social dimension is largely neglected in the discourse on sustainability. Perception of sustainability is influenced inter alia by the media, political programmes or…
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Environment

Ritschard E., Zingg S., Arlettaz R., Humbert J-Y.

Biodiversity promotion areas: increasing their proportion and quality benefits birds and butterflies

The intensification of agricultural practices has led to an alarming decline in farmland biodiversity. With the aim of stopping and even reversing this trend, biodiversity promotion areas (BPA – formerly named «ecological compensation areas») were introduced in the 1990s. In this study, the influence of BPA on the biodiversity of butterflies and breeding birds was…
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Environment

Riedel S., Lüscher G., Meier E., Herzog F., Hofer G.

Ecological Quality of Meadows Supported with Biodiversity Contributions

The «Agriculture-Related Environmental Objectives» (AEOs) set binding targets for the conservation of species and habitat diversity in the agricultural landscape. For these, lists of species meriting particular consideration (AEO species) were drawn up. An initial evaluation of the ALL-EMA «Agricultural Species and Habitats» Monitoring Programme shows that in Switzerland, on average only 13 % of…
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Environment

Ammann C., Voglmeier K., Münger A., Bretscher D.

Reduction of ammonia emissions on pasture

What is the effect of a low-protein feed supplement on the ammonia emissions from dairy cattle on pasture? To answer this question, the ammonia emissions from two pasture-based feeding systems with dairy cattle were measured and compared between May and October. In the first system (G) the cows fed exclusively on pasture grass, whilst in…
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Environment

Mayer J., Zimmermann M., Weggler K., Reiser R., Bürge D., Bucheli Th., Richner W.

Pollutant threshold values for mineral recycling fertilisers: the Swiss concept

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth. Switzerland is reliant upon the import of phosphorus fertilisers, which come from deposit reserves and are increasingly burdened with pollutants. On the other hand, there are hitherto unused phosphorus stocks in sewage sludge and slaughterhouse waste that could completely replace fertiliser imports. Therefore, Switzerland has introduced the…
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Environment

Maurer C., Oehl F., Zihlmann U., Chervet A., Sturny W. G.

Cropping systems affect species diversity of mycorrhizal fungi

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi) diversity was investigated in 12 selected long-term soil observation sites in the canton of Bern. These consisted of nine soils farmed according to Proof of Ecological Performance (PEP) production guidelines, of which three were natural meadows, three were no-till (NT) or ploughed (PL) arable soils, and three were ploughed arable…
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Environment

Bretscher D., Ammann Ch., Wüst Ch., Nyfeler A., Felder D.

Potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Swiss animal husbandry

The Swiss agricultural and climate policy- making sector has set itself the target of reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least one-third by 2050 compared to 1990’s figures. This target can be achieved via technical measures on the production side and/or by reorganising agricultural structures (area percentages, animal populations). Animal husbandry is responsible for…
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Environment

Schrade S., Zeyer K., Keck M., Keller M., Zähner M., Mohn J.

Validation of the tracer ratio method for emission measurements in naturally ventilated housing

The tracer ratio method serves to quantify emissions in naturally ventilated animal housing systems. Empa and Agroscope have developed a tracer ratio method with two tracer gases for comparative emission measurements in Agroscope’s experimental dairy housing, with its two spatially separated compartments. In this method, the tracer gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and trifluoromethyl sulphur pentafluoride…
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Environment

Roesch A., Marton S., Thalmann Ch., Schader Ch., Grenz J., Gaillard G.

Measuring sustainability at farm level: what tool for what purpose?

There are three methods available for evaluating sustainability at farm level that were developed in Switzerland: RISE, SMART und SALCAsustain. In this article, the three methods are compared by means of a list of criteria and several concrete examples with the aim of making it easier for readers to decide which tool is best suited…