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Environment

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…
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Environment

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…
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Environment

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).…
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Environment

Jarosch K., Richner W., Mayer J.

Nitrogen-use efficiency of biogas digestate

The digestion of farmyard manure and other organic materials has become increasingly important in recent years. The digestion process produces biogas (methane), and increases the proportion of easily available nitrogen compounds in the digestate produced. To date, there has been little research on the fertiliser value of digested farmyard manure that is of relevance to…
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Environment

Prasuhn V., Doppler T., Spycher S., Stamm Ch.

Reducing PPP inputs due to erosion and runoff

Many Swiss streams exhibit high levels of plant-protection product (PPP) inputs, with erosion and runoff being important entry paths. This article furnishes an overview of measures for reducing PPP inputs into bodies of water from arable land due to erosion, runoff and drainage, and provides an expert-based qualitative evaluation of these measures in terms of…
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Environment

Blanckenhorn W.U., Jochmann R., Walter Th.

Biodiversity of cow-dung insects and other pasture dwellers not correlated

The biodiversity of agricultural land is usually measured via indicator species that can be recorded time- and cost-efficiently. Behind this approach lies the seldom-questioned assumption that these groups of organisms are good at reflecting the overall species diversity of a habitat. We tested this assumption by comparing the diversity of cow-dung insects with that of…
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Environment

Prasuhn V., Möhring A., Bystricky M., Nemecek T., Gaillard G.

Economic and ecological assessment of scenarios for nutrient reduction in water bodies

Four different scenarios for the reduction of diffuse nutrient inputs from agriculture to water bodies in Switzerland were analysed for the period 2010 to 2025 in a multidisciplinary project. The agricultural sector model SWISSland was used to examine the economic and structural effects, and the influence on the direct payments budget and sectoral income, following…
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Environment

Sutter L., Herzog F., Dietemann V., Charrière J.-D., Albrecht M.

Demand, supply and value of insect pollination for the swiss agricultural production

For some field crops, and especially fruits and berries, harvested yield quantity and quality are dependent on pollination by insects. According to global estimates, honeybees and wild bees contribute equally to this ecosystem service, although there are no systematic studies for Switzerland. Now, for the first time, and with the help of data on the…
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Environment

Seitz B., Carrard E., Burgos St., Tatti D., Herzog F., Jäger M., Sereke F.

Increased SOM stocks in a seven-year-old agroforestry system in central Switzerland

Modern agroforestry systems have the potential to combine productive agriculture with increased environmental benefits. Because these systems have only recently been tested by a few farmers in Switzerland, there is hardly any data available on the environmental impacts of modern agroforestry systems. In this study, we examined the changes in soil organic matter (SOM) stocks…
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Environment

Chevillat V., Stöckli S., Birrer S., Jenny M., Graf R., Pfiffner L., Zellweger-Fischer J.

Agricultural extension gives rise to greater proportions of biodiversity priority areas of higher quality

The shortage of high-quality Biodiversity Priority Areas (BPAs) is one reason for the ongoing decline in biodiversity in the cultural landscape. Many farm holdings have the potential to increase the quality of their BPAs. One approach to leveraging this potential is whole-farm extension, which takes into account both the ecological and economic parameters of the…
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Environment

Krauss M., Perrochet F., Lori M., Ruser R., Müller T., Zikeli S., Gruber S., Claupein W., Mäder P., Gattinger A.

Reduced tillage in organic farming – climate aspects

The conversion from ploughing to reduced tillage is discussed in the context of increased humus accumulation as an opportunity to mitigate climate change. To date, little attention has been paid to the question whether reduced tillage systems in organic farming result in increased nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Thus, as part of FiBL’s long-term tillage trial…
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Environment

Finger R., Böcker Th., Möhring N., Dalhaus T.

Incentive taxes on pesticides: economic analysis, experiences from Europe and the effects of accompanying measures

Incentive taxes on pesticides can contribute towards reducing the risk of negative external effects on the environment and human health in real terms. A meta analysis of the elasticity of demand for pesticides shows that the use of pesticides is price-sensitive. Experiences with existing tax systems in other European countries also show that it is…
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Environment

Schläppi K., Köhl L., Bender F., Held A., Mascher F., van der Heijden M.

Underground teamwork: mycorrhizal fungi for promoting plant growth

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play an important role in agriculture, supporting a wide range of crops with nutrients. There is currently a great interest in enhancing crop productivity through field inoculations with AMF. Here, we show how inoculated AMF are able to successfully establish in eight different field soils, increasing the biomass of red clover…
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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…