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Biodiversity and productivity in agriculture

Concerns exist about the rapid decline of biodiversity in agroecosystems. However, we need arable land and the related landscapes to cover a high percentage of basic food supply in our society. Contrary to feed production in grasslands, arable crops need to develop specified harvestable organs before harvest is possible. Thus, the cultivation of crops in…
Animal production

Wyss Ch., Gerster G., Zollinger A., Schneider L., Bachmann I.

Slow feeding systems for horses: feeding times and lying behaviour

Free-living equids spend the greater part of the day grazing – roughly sixteen hours out of every twenty four. With two to three rationed portions of roughage a day, the behaviour of conventionally fed domestic horses is strongly affected. The aim of the present paper was to examine whether a different number of feeds influenced…
Plant production

Schumpp O., Dupuis B., Bréchon A., Wild W., Frei P., Pellet D., Schaerer S.

High-throughput molecular diagnostics for detecting potato-plant viruses

Every year, Agroscope inspects almost 300 000 tubers for the presence or absence of viruses in order to certify potato plants destined for Swiss producers. From 2016 onwards, this inspection has been performed using real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on dormant tubers right after the harvest. The new method allows results to be obtained…
Animal production

Steinwidder A., Hofstetter P., Frey H., Gazzarin C.

Analysis of pasture-based- or indoor-feeding-dairy production on the net contribution to human food supply

In a whole-system study in lowland of Central Switzerland from 2007 to 2010 compared the performance, efficiency, land productivity and profitability of indoor-feeding (SH) dairy production with that of pasture-based feeding (VW) dairy production. In the present study the net contribution of these systems to human food protein and energy supply was analysed. Depending on…
Animal production

Keck M., Frei M., Steiner B.

Comparison of the odour impact of cattle housing with and without an outdoor exercise area

Outdoor exercise areas in loose cattle housing systems represent close-to-the-ground emission sources. Previously, outdoor exercise areas were not taken into account when calculating the minimum distance to residential zones. The aim of these studies was to highlight any possible effect of outdoor exercise areas with solid flooring on odour impact. For this, the odour impact…
Animal production

Wyss U., Mosimann E.

Silage quality of catch crops

Although catch crops contribute to additional feed production, they are also considered to be difficult to ensile. In a trial, the ensilability and silage quality of the two standard mixtures 101 and 106 as well as mixtures with black oats, sorghum and foxtail millet were investigated. In addition to variants without an additive, we also…
Animal production

Menzi H., Arrigo Y., Münger A., Schori F., Wyss U., Schlegel P.

New guide values for the nutrient excretions of dairy cows

In the framework of the current revision of the Swiss Fertilizer Guidelines (SFG) the guide values for nutrient excretion and forage consumption of dairy cows were checked and adapted to current production practice. The principle used for calculating excretions is input in feed minus retention in milk, calf and growth. A model based on the…
Animal production

Spengler Neff A., Ivemeyer S.

Differences between organic dairy cows sired by artificial insemination and natural service

This study investigated differences between phenotypes of daughters of artificial insemination (AI)-bulls and daughters of natural service (NS)- bulls, respectively, on organic dairy farms in Switzerland. Organic rules recommend the use of natural mating. Therefore it is of interest whether those two groups of phenotypes show different characteristics on organic farms. Only farms using both…

Stutz C.J., Huguenin-Elie O., Gago R., Suter M., Hebeisen H., Lüscher A.

Can water voles be controlled with vole fences?

Fossorial water voles are the major grassland pest north of the Alps. Highly prolific, they are able to spread rapidly across the countryside. Although migration barriers or so-called ’water-vole fences’ can be built to prevent their expansion, the farm area under grassland is usually far too large to be fully fenced with such barriers. Between…
Agricultural economics

Heitkämper K., Umstätter Ch., Schick M.

Administrative simplification in agriculture: analysis and optimisation approaches

In addition to their own record-keeping as part of management and planning activities, farmers are nowadays obliged to record data and fill in forms for statistical purposes as well as for the disbursement of government or label-related funding. Two surveys of 26 Swiss farms with different agricultural activities conducted in 2012 and 2015 revealed that…
Animal production

Arrigo Y., Wyss U., Morel I.

Digestibility of power maize silage fed alone or in mixed rations

Power maize silage (WPMC) – a mixture of whole-plant maize and cobs used in cattle fattening – has different characteristics from whole-plant maize (WPM). A digestibility test was carried out to determine the nutritional value of WPMC, study the influence of the composition of the ration and verify the application of equations predicting digestibility. Four…
Plant production

Micheneau M., Champolivier L., Courtois N., Sinaj S., Baux A.

Réglette azote colza®: a decision support tool for rapeseed N management adapted for Switzerland

The Réglette azote colza® is a decision support tool for rapeseed nitrogen fertilization, developed by the French institute Terres Inovia. This tool was designed to determine the nitrogen dose the most adapted to the needs of the crop, based on the rapeseed status at the beginning and at the end of the winter. The parameters…
Plant production

Schirdewahn T., Mascher F., Bucheli Th., Bertossa M., Musa T., Wettstein F.E., Keller B., Vogelgsang S.

Cultivation factors influence Fusarium fungi and mycotoxins in Swiss barley

During a 2-year monitoring we observed that the occurrence of Fusarium graminearum and the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol are influenced by several cropping factors. Frequently, not only one but the combination of different factors have to be considered e.g. previous crop and tillage. Thus, the entire cropping system should be taken into consideration to retrieve influencing cropping…
Plant production

Levy L., Courvoisier N., Herrera J., Brabant C., Pellet D.

Protein potential of winter wheat varieties

A ‘protein potential’ concept has been developed by analogy with the ‘grain yield’ concept, with the aim of better understanding the factors influencing wheat protein content and identifying the most stable varieties as well as the amount of protein that remains to be reached. The protein potential of 18 varieties of winter wheat covering all…
Agricultural economics

Hochuli A., Huber M., Hofstetter P.

Guest segments for agritourism

Knowledge of guest needs is the prerequisite for the market-oriented design of tourist offerings. Using cluster analysis, the guest segments (clusters) for agritourism in Switzerland were first identified in terms of distinct needs. The classification of the six clusters was based on a survey of 655 potential guests of agritourism enterprises. The six guest segments…

Chervet A., Sturny W.G., Gut S., Sommer M., Stettler M., Weisskopf P., Keller Th.

Wheel load-carrying capacity – a useful parameter for practice

Compaction in the subsoil caused by high wheel loads is usually long-lasting, adversely affecting soil functions and productivity. Wheel load-carrying capacity is defined as the maximum wheel load for a specific tyre and inflation pressure that does not result in soil stress in excess of soil strength (defined as precompression stress). We calculated the seasonal…
Plant production

Vuffray Z., Deléglise C., Amaudruz M., Jeangros B., Mosimann E., Meisser M.

Phenological development of meadows – 21 years of observations

In spring, the phenological development of meadows influences forage quality, particularly in terms of the digestibility of organic matter. Thus, phenological observations facilitate grassland management during first grass growth. Since vegetation development depends largely on meteorological conditions, long-term phenological monitoring also enables the effects of climate change on vegetation to be assessed. The aim of…
Plant production

Roger A., Pluchon S., Yvin J-C., Benbrahim M., Kremer L., Sinaj S.

Effects of a new phosphate fertiliser on wheat nutrition and yield

Phosphorus (P) is an essential mineral for plant growth. Given that easily extractable global stocks of P are declining and that P over-fertilisation can be a source of pollution, it would appear necessary to improve the efficiency of phosphate fertilisers in agriculture. Two independent experiments were carried out at Agroscope Changins (Switzerland) and RITTMO-Colmar (France)…
Plant production

Suter D., Rainer F., Hirschi H., Aebi Ph.

Timothy: two new varieties recommended

Between 2013 and 2015, Agroscope field-tested a total of 21 varieties of timothy (Phleum pratense) as to their suitability for cultivation. Seven of these varieties had already been recommended and served as benchmarks in the trial, whilst simultaneously being required to pass the test again. Yield and digestibility, vigour (density, luxuriance and evenness of the…
Plant production

Grieder Ch., Tanner P., Schubiger F.-X., Boller B.

Improved performance thanks to sex: Agroscope’s new Kentucky bluegrass varieties

The year 2014 marked the first occasion when two varieties of Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) from Agroscope’s breeding programme, Selista and Sepia, were included in the Swiss List of Recommended Varieties for Forage Plants. Instead of exhibiting the otherwise usual asexual seed formation (‘apomixis’), Selista and Sepia primarily reproduce sexually, like the known variety Lato.…
Agricultural economics

Zorn A., Lips M.

Profitability of domestic grain legumes

The profitability of growing grain legumes in Switzerland is of interest when discussing the importation of feed. Cost/performance calculations on a full-cost basis for soya, field beans, protein peas and lupins yield a realised hourly rate or work monetisation of at least CHF 37.–, assuming efficient management on three-hectare plots. This work monetisation is comparable…

Ramseier H., Füglistaller D., Lädrach Ch., Ramseier Ch., Rauch M., Widmer Etter F.

Flower strips encourage honey bees and wild bees

Honey bees and wild bees are essential for agricultural production and biodiversity, but have come under pressure worldwide. Besides the varroa mite, diseases and environmental toxins, lack of food is likely to be an important stress factor. For this reason, it is hoped that flower strips in the cultivated landscape will reduce the nectar dearth…

Luka H., Barloggio G., Pfiffner L.

Flower strips control pests in vegetable production and ecologically upgrade arable land

Multi-year studies of the model system ‘cabbage’, the pest ‘cabbage moth’ and the latter’s egg and larval parasitoids (beneficials) demonstrate how pests can be controlled in vegetable production with the help of tailored biodiversity areas. Beneficials were encouraged by means of flower strips on field margins and companion plants within the field. Suitable plants for…

Tschumi M., Albrecht M., Dubsky V., Herzo F., Jacot K.

Tailored flower strips for arable crops reduce cereal leaf beetles and aphids

Sustainable agricultural production relies on ecosystem services such as biological pest control. This service is at risk through intensive agricultural management; but can be improved by offering resources to pests’ natural enemies. Flower strips tailored to the specific needs of natural enemies of crop pests (i.e. cereal leaf beetles and aphids) were evaluated on farms.…
Animal production

Wyss C., Gerster G., Zollinger A., Bachmann I.

Slow-feeding for horses

In a natural environment, equids spend over 16 hours a day grazing. Stabled horses are traditionally fed 2–3 times a day with limited amount of forage. This may lead to disturbances of the digestive system and/or behavioral problems. The aim of this study was to investigate whether intake decreases when using a net covering the…