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Plant production

Frick R., Suter D., Hirschi H.

2015–2017 variety trials with xFestulolium braunii and brome grass

Between 2015 and 2017, Agroscope tested seven new varieties of xFestulolium braunii (K. Richter) A. Camus and four varieties of brome grass (Bromus spp.) for their agronomic properties in comparative trials at six locations. The characteristics studied were yield, juvenile development, general impression, competitive ability, persistence, resistance to leaf diseases and bacterial wilt, winter hardiness,…
Agricultural economics

Chandrapalan R., Zorn A., Lips M.

Profitability of para-agricultural activities

Using cost/performance calculations, the profitability of four para-agricultural activities (contracted work for third parties, direct marketing, tourism and services) is investigated, with labour utilisation, i.e. the resultant hourly wage, serving as a criterion. With a focus on farm activities with a gross performance of between CHF 10,000 and CHF 100,000, there are 2339 observations available…

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…

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…
Agricultural economics

Möhring A., Mack G., Zimmermann A., Mann St., Ferjani A.

Food security payments: refining objectives and using resources more efficiently

Since 2014, the Swiss Confederation has made food-supply security payments to ensure the reliable supply of food to the population. At CHF 1.1 billion per annum, these account for a large proportion of direct payments. Agroscope has now tested the effectiveness of this instrument on behalf of the Federal Office for Agriculture, and is proposing…

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…

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…

Humbert J-Y., Buri P., Unternährer D., Arlettaz R.

Alternative mowing regimes to favour meadow biodiversity

In Switzerland, biodiversity promotion areas or BPAs (i.e. land under Swiss agri-environment schemes) account for around 15 % of the utilised agricultural area. While the main objective of BPAs is to promote farmland biodiversity, their effectiveness remains limited, in particular as regards the incidence of invertebrates in the lowlands. In this study, the mowing regime…

Schrade S., Zeyer K., Emmenegger L., Keck M.

Particulate matter (PM10) emissions from dairy loose housing with outdoor exercise area

To improve the underlying data for emission inventories, particulate matter (PM10) emissions were determined for the most common loose-housing system in Switzerland. Emission measurements were conducted in two out of three seasons (summer, transition period, winter) per farm in six naturally ventilated dairy loose-housing systems comprising cubicles, solid floors and an outdoor exercise area. PM10…
Agricultural economics

Böcker Th., Finger R.

Implications of herbicide-free Extenso wheat cultivation in Switzerland

Various stakeholders are searching for ways to reduce herbicide use on farms. The implications of such measures, however, are often unknown. This article makes use of a bio-economic model to analyse how plant-protection strategies, yields and contribution margins change in Swiss Extenso winter-wheat cultivation if i) neither glyphosate and ii) nor other herbicides are used.…
Agricultural economics

Hochuli A., Raemy D., Hofer H., Flückiger D.

Swiss private-label branded beef: brand credibility and consumer trust

Ethologically and ecologically sound production methods, brand awareness and brand credibility are all preconditions for the production of high-quality beef and veal. The market research results presented here show that certain consumer segments more frequently consume Swiss private label branded beef if high production standards in terms of animal welfare, ecology and pasture grazing are…

Digestibility of forage in mixed rations

The digestibility of the organic matter (DOM) of a forage, whether estimated in vitro via modelling or determined in vivo via experimentation, is a nutritive value considered in isolation. A ration, however, generally consists of a mixture of different forages and concentrates. This trial – consisting of an in vivo study with wethers – studies…
Animal production

Huguenin-Elie O., Nyfeler D., Ammann Ch., Latsch A., Richner W.

Influence of slurry application technique on yield and nitrogen flows in grassland

Measurement series carried out in Switzerland during different seasons as well as an overview of the literature show that with the use of a trailing hose spreader or trailing shoe spreader, 2–3 kg more nitrogen per hectare ends up in the soil per instance of slurry-spreading than with a broadcast spreader, owing to the escape…
Animal production

Häller B., Van der Maas J., Moser S., Kempter A., Mulser E., Hofstetter P.

System comparison Hohenrain II: Research combined with knowledge exchange enhances impact on practice

Transferring knowledge between practitioners, researchers, educators and extensionists was a key concern of the ’Optimisation of milk production with fresh grass feeding’ project. The study groups of the participating farms were particularly important. They provided the foundations and data necessary for establishing research questions and worked intensively to implement the new work practices. This triggered…
Plant production

Suter D., Frick R., Hirschi H.

New cocksfoot variety recommendation: «RGT Lovely» instead of «Lazuly»

From 2015 to 2017, a total of 23 varieties of cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), 11 of which were new varieties, were tested on seven Agroscope sites as to their suitability for use under Swiss growing conditions. The varieties were evaluated according to yield, feed digestibility, vigour, juvenile development, competitive ability, resistance to leaf diseases, winter-hardiness…
Plant production

Jeangros B., Sinaj S.

Phosphorus and potassium requirements of a hay meadow of the Swiss Jura dominated by red fescue

Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) inputs on grassland aim to maintain an appropriate botanical composition and to produce sufficient quantities of forage without harming the environment. Over a 13-year period, eight different levels of P and K fertilisation were applied on a low-intensive permanent grassland in the Swiss Jura. Rising inputs of P (between 0…
Plant production

Bittar A., Meisser M., Mosimann E., Calanca P.

Simulation of grass growth and pasture yields with ModVege

Predicting grass growth could be very useful for the management of pastures, or deciding the best time to harvest hay meadows. The ModVege model was tested and improved using a set of 125 situations (meadow × year × management) collected from grassland areas in Switzerland. Comparisons between simulated and measured data show relatively reliable outputs…
Animal production

Münger A., Denninger Th., Martin C., Eggerschwiler L., Dohme-Meier F.

Methane emission from grazing dairy cows: comparison of methods

Methane emission from free-ranging ruminants can be measured in different ways. In a study with 13 grazing dairy cows, Agroscope compared two methods. The sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) tracer technique is an established method, but its application is challenging and laborious. Before the measurements started, the cows were equipped with a calibrated permeation tube releasing SF6…
Animal production

Wyss U., Schlegel P., Frey H., Akert F., Mulser E., Reidy B.

System comparison Hohenrain II: Nutrient and mineral content of conserved forage

From 2014 to 2016, the Hohenrain II Project compared three different grassland-based milk production systems with either full grazing, or with partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh herbage and reduced or increased concentrate supplementation. From 2013 to 2015, the nutrient and mineral content of the conserved forage (hay, grass silage and artificially dried herbage)…

Zumwald J., Braunschweig M., Hofstetter P., Reidy B., Nemecek Th.

Life-cycle assessment of pasture- and grassland-based milk production systems

As part of the project ’Optimisation of Grassland-Based Milk Production Systems based on Fresh-Grass Harvesting (Hohenrain II)’, we used the SALCA life-cycle assessment method to compare the environmental impacts of three systems, viz. full-grazing with seasonal calving and two variants of fresh-grass harvesting with differing use of concentrates (< 500 kg/cow/ year and 800–1200 kg/cow/year).…
Agricultural economics

Gazzarin Ch., Haas Th., Hofstetter P., Höltschi M.

Milk production: fresh grass with low concentrates pays off

Many Swiss dairy farmers use variable proportions of fresh grass (forage or grazing) and supplementary feed in their production. Which characteristics are economically successful in these fresh grass systems? This question was addressed in the project «Optimisation of grassland- based milk production systems based on forage (Hohenrain II)» conducted on 36 pilot farms over three…
Animal production

Mulser E., Ineichen S., Sutter M., Hofstetter P., Probst St.

Animal performance with fresh grass feeding

Partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh grass is an important feeding system for Swiss dairy farms. From 2014 to 2016, three production systems – partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh grass with reduced (EGKF; 418 kg), and increased concentrate supplementation (EGKFplus; 1161 kg) was compared with full-time grazing with reduced concentrate supplementation (FG;…
Animal production

Wyss U., Schlegel P., Frey H., Reidy B.

Mineral content of herbage

Full grazing or indoor feeding of fresh herbage and partial grazing are common feeding systems for dairy cows in Switzerland. Project Hohenrain II investigated a comparison of three different grassland-based milk production systems, a partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh grass with reduced and increased concentrate supplementation was compared with the full grazing system…
Animal production

Ineichen S., Akert F., Frey H., Wyss U., Hofstetter P., Schmid H., Gut W., Reidy B.

Project description and quality of fresh grass

Partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh grass is an important feeding system for Swiss dairy farms. From 2014 to 2016, three production systems – ’partial grazing with indoor feeding of fresh grass with reduced (EGKF, 418 kg) and increased concentrate supplementation (EGKFplus; 1161 kg) was compared with full-time grazing (FG) with reduced concentrate supplementation…
Animal production

Pacheco A. J., Pittet A., Ampuero Kragten S., Arrigo Y.

In vivo and in vitro organic matter digestibility determined with the Ankom DaisyII Incubator

A comparison of organic matter digestibility (OMd) determined in vivo and in vitro was conducted with samples of grass, grass silage, hay, and maize silage (n = 20 per feed) from the Agroscope Posieux collection. The in vitro method was carried out with the Ankom «DaisyII» Incubator (Ankom Technology Corp., Fairport, NY, USA). The coefficients…
Plant production

Meisser M., Vitra A., Stévenin L., Mosimann E., Mariotte P., Buttler A.

Impact of drought on the functioning of grassland systems

A rainfall manipulation experiment was conducted over a two-year period on two semi-natural grassland sites, in order to determine the effects of drought on both forage production (dry matter and nutritive value) and plant-soil relationships. Water stress simulations were performed with the aid of rainout shelters. Among the nutritional parameters, lignocellulose content (ADF) and water-soluble…