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Environment

Büchi L., Valsangiacomo A., Burel E., Charles R.

Agri-environmental indicator for soil cover on Swiss farms

This study presents an indicator for soil cover, developed within the framework of the Federal Office for Agriculture agri-environmental monitoring programme. The indicator takes aspects such as crop type as well as cultivation practices such as rotation and tillage into account, incorporating technical data as well as data from crop model simulations. The indicator was…
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Environment

Stamp P.

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…
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Environment

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…
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Environment

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…
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Environment

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…
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Environment

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…
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Environment

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.…
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Environment

Fuhrer J., Thomet M., Smith P, Jordan F., Thomet P.

Online water-shortage forecasts

Climate change causes the risk of water shortage to increase in regions where intensive agriculture is practised. A model for the Three-Lakes Region (Broye/Seeland) was created as a tool for forecasting critical situations and for the longer-term planning of water use with a view to adapting to climate change. The model allows the resources in…
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Environment

Chervet A., Sturny W.G., Weisskopf P., Sommer M., Martinez I., Keller T.

Soil porosity and gas transport properties after 19 years of no-till and conventional tillage

No-till and conventional plough tillage have been compared since 1994 in the Oberacker longterm field experiment at Inforama Ruetti in Zollikofen (Switzerland) on a slightly humic sandy loam soil. Crops were grown in a six-year crop rotation in a strip trial with six adjoining plots. Nineteen years into the trial, undisturbed cylindrical samples were taken…
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Environment

Chervet A., Ramseier L., Sturny W.G., Zuber M., Stettler M., Weisskopf P., Zihlmann U., Martinez I., Keller T.

Crop yield, and nutrients in the soil profile after 20 Years of no-till and conventional tillage

No-till and conventional plough tillage have been compared since 1994 in the Oberacker longterm field experiment at Inforama Ruetti in Zollikofen (Switzerland) on a slightly humic sandy loam soil. Crops were grown in a six-year crop rotation (peas, winter wheat, field beans, winter barley, sugarbeets and silage maize) in a strip trial with six adjoining…
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Environment

Meichtry-Stier K., Zellweger-Fischer J., Horch P., Birrer S.

The ecological quality of meadows is important for the Brown Hare

The population of Brown Hares in the Swiss lowland has been declining for years. In the St. Galler Rhine valley farmland has been ecologically improved with biodiversity promoting areas (BFF) since 1994 with the aim to promote the Brown Hare amongst other species. In this study, we compared the population trend of the Brown Hare…
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Environment

Lansche J., Koch P., Mouron P., Gaillard G.

Methodological challenges posed by the environmental product declaration for agricultural products

The European Union (EU) intends to introduce an environmental product declaration for agricultural products. This raises the question of the extent to which the various methodological guidelines are suitable for this purpose from the Swiss perspective. Together with Koch Consulting and on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Agroscope has therefore made…
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Environment

Oehl F., Oberholzer H.-R., van der Heijden M. G. A, Laczko E., Jansa J., Egli S.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as bioindicators in agricultural soils

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi) are soil fungi that establish an effective symbiosis with most crops and wild plants, promoting plant growth and improving soil structure. Individual studies from Switzerland have led us to assume that certain species are suitable as bioindicators for various soils and land-use types. In a broad-based study, the AM fungi…
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Environment

Zellweger-Fischer J., Althaus P., Birrer S., Jenny M., Pfiffner L., Stöckli S.

Assessing biodiversity at the farm scale using a credit point system

There has been a drastic decline in farmland biodiversity in recent decades. In spite of direct payments for ecological compensation areas (ECA), specifically for their connectivity and ecological quality, there has been no general recovery in the populations of many species of farmland flora and fauna. While discernibly positive effects of agricultural biodiversity measures have…
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Environment

Keck M., Schrade S., Keller M., Frei M., Steiner B.

Odour impact of an agricultural biogas facility combined with animal husbandry

Mostly, agricultural biogas facilities on farms in Switzerland exist in combination with animal husbandry. The proximity of these facilities to residential areas can lead to odour complaints from residents. Animal housing and outdoor exercise areas, feed and farmyard manure stores, as well as substrate and fermentation residue stores all figure among the diffuse emission sources.…
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Environment

Holzkämper A., Fuhrer J.

The impact of climate change on maize cultivation in Switzerland

The premise that global warming changes the conditions for crop production was investigated throughout Switzerland on the basis of a climate suitability for grain maize cultivation. Gridded projections1 of temperature changes for three time periods (2020–49, 2045–74, 2070–99) available from twenty climate-model chains for the A2 emissions scenario (i.e. the «business as usual» scenario) were…
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Environment

Lichtsteiner S., Oehen B.

Beekeeping and farming – dependence and contradiction

In many countries of the northern hemisphere, populations of honey bees and other pollinating insects have been in decline for some years. The causes of this decline have not yet fully been clarified. There are, however, strong indications that intensive agriculture can impact pollinators negatively. Many agricultural activities affect pollinating insects and thus affect the…
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Environment

Bystricky M., Alig M., N emecek Th., Gaillard G.

Life-cycle assessment of Swiss agricultural products compared with imports

In light of the growing dynamics of the trade in agricultural products, the environmental competitiveness of Swiss foods vis-à-vis imports is gaining in importance. Agroscope studied the environmental impacts of wheat bread, feed barley, table potatoes, cheese and beef from both Switzerland and major importing countries. Cheese and potatoes from Switzerland were rated as similar…
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Environment

Rudin S., Schmid O., Knaus F.

Results-oriented approach to biodiversity promotion: acceptance among Swiss mountain farmers

To conserve and enhance biodiversity in agricultural areas, the Swiss Confederation uses two different approaches that support biodiversity enhancement areas (Biodiversitäts-Förderflächen, BFF). The action-oriented approach (Massnahmen-orientierter Ansatz, MOA) compensates farmers for prescribed management measures, whereas the result-oriented approach (Resultat-orientierter Ansatz, ROA) compensates farmers for proven ecological results. This second approach, which in the Swiss Ordinance…
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Environment

Bosshard A.

The decline of Arrhenatherum meadows in the Swiss lowland and its consequences for biodiversity

A comparison of historic and current vegetation surveys of intensively managed meadows reveals a dramatic decline of species diversity in Swiss lowland grassland. In the 1950s, the most intensively managed meadows were Arrhenatherum meadows. Over 85 % of these achieved the QII standard defining meadows with «high biodiversity value», and more than a third significantly…
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Environment

Bretscher D., Leuthold-Stärfl S., Felder D., Fuhrer J.

Development of greenhouse gas emissions in the Swiss agriculture and food sector

The agriculture and food sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Emission inventories serve as a basis for reduction strategies and the respective impact assessments. To date however, efforts at assessment have frequently been characterized by limited sector perspectives. Adopting an integral approach, the present study reviews emissions from the Swiss agriculture and…
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Environment

Graf R., Korner P., Birrer S.

Sprinkler systems as a cause of intensification of grassland use in the Swiss Engadin

During a long-term monitoring from 1987 to 2010, changes in vegetation and land-use intensity at irrigated versus non-irrigated study sites were investigated in the Swiss Engadin. Specifically, vegetation surveys were compared between the years 1987/88 and 2009/10 to identify whether and how proportions of extensively used (no-input) hay meadows to low-intensity meadows changed (including a…
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Environment

Maurer C., Rüdy M., Chervet A., Sturny W.G., Flisch R., Oehl F.

Diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in field crops using no-till and conventional tillage practices

Since 1994, a comparison of no-till and conventional tillage systems has been underway on the Oberacker long-term field trial site at the Inforama Rütti education and extension centre in Zollikofen, Berne canton. The present paper investigates the influence of the two cropping systems and various field crops, including catch crop mixtures, on the diversity of…
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Environment

Heinzelmann R., Lüscher G., Walter T.

Butterfly and moth diversity in lower-mountain region grassland habitats

Around one third of the 226 butterfly and moth species in Switzerland are threatened owing to the loss of suitable habitats caused by agricultural intensification. Organic farming aims to contribute to the conservation of species diversity in farmland. This case study investigates the impact of organic farming on butterfly species richness and abundance. The study…
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Environment

Walsh F., Pelludat C., Duffy B., Smith D.P., Owens S. M., Frey J. E., Holliger E.

Impact of streptomycin applications on antibiotic resistance in apple orchards

The Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) authorized the use of streptomycin to fight fire blight under controlled conditions in 2008 with the provison that the development of antibiotic resistance in the treated plots is monitored. Agroscope in Wädenswil thus performed the first study to quantitatively analyze the influence of streptomycin use in agriculture on the…
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Environment

Fuhrer J., Calanca P.

Irrigation requirement and available water supply under changing climatic conditions: a regional deficit analysis

As the climate changes, the water requirement of agricultural crops tends to increase. This leads to a higher irrigation requirement. At the same time, water availability falls, since water levels in many catchment areas of the Swiss Central Plateau decline in the summer. In order to identify areas with an increased risk of water shortage,…
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Environment

Richner N., Durocher L., Rohrer H., Walter T.

Leaf blowers as an alternative to rakes: impact on vegetation after four years

In the mountains, hay harvesting represents a significant task for farmers. To make this job easier and speed up the harvest, farmers are gradually replacing rakes with leaf blowers. The Swiss nature conservancy organisation Pro Natura and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Research Station Agroscope are currently evaluating the potential effects of leaf blowers on the…