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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…
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Environment

Hanke I., Poiger T., Aldrich A.P., Balmer M.E.

Plant protection products – mitigating the risk due to surface runoff

Plant protection products (PPP) can betransported from treated fields to surface waters via surface runoff during rain events. Potential risks for aquatic organisms due to surface runoff are assessed during the registration process for PPP, and risk mitigation measures are implemented if necessary. Currently, a vegetated buffer zone of 6 m width may be required…
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Environment

Schweizer S., Höhn H., Ruf D., Dubuis P.-H., Naef A.

Pesticide application – measures for mitigation of spray drift

The spray application of plant protection products (PPP) leads to a contamination of non-target areas via spray drift: Droplets containing the active ingredient are deposited outside of the targeted area. The potential risk for non-target organisms caused by this drift is evaluated in the authorization-process of PPP. In order to achieve acceptable risk levels for…
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Environment

Jossi W., Humphrys C., Dorn B., Hiltbrunner J.

Controlling pollen beetle with the natural agent «Surround»

Meligethes spp. (pollen beetles) can cause major damage to oilseed rape crops. Organic and extensively farmed stands are especially at risk, since the use of insecticides on them is prohibited. Moreover, the pollen beetle’s increasing resistance means that non-chemical treatment options could also become important for conventional oilseed rape cultivation in future. Agroscope has tested…
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Environment

Aavik T., Bosshard D., Edwards, P., Holderegger R., Billeter R.

Genetic and fitness consequences of using wildflower seed mixtures in ecological restoration

Wildflower seed mixtures are widely used for restoration in areas with impoverished species pools. However, the genetic and fitness consequences of using seed mixtures are often not considered in practical restoration. We studied the genetic characteristics of sown and naturally occurring populations of the grassland plant Lychnis flos-cuculi in an agricultural landscape in the Oberaargau…
Environment

Schweizer S., Kauf P., Höhn H., Naef A.

Spraydrift – mitigation measures in field trials

Drug-containing droplets from the application of plant protection products (PPP) can be transported and deposited outside of the target area, which is called direct spray drift and affects adjacent waterbodies and other non-target areas. The environmental risk expected through spray drift of PPP is estimated as part of the authorization-process. If necessary, spray free buffer…
Environment

Schüpbach B., Walter Th., Hofer G., Herzog F.

Modelled forest regrowth in 2021 and biodiversity in alpine summer pastures

The influence of forest regrowth on biodiversity in alpine summer pastures was investigated as part of the joint research project AlpFUTUR. An evaluation of the target and indicator species of the agriculture- related environmental objectives (AEO species) for the alpine summer pastures shows that all regions of the Jura and the Alps are of equal…
Environment

Koch B., Schmid S.

Valuable biodiversity in grassland areas of encroached alpine pastures

Europe has a long tradition of alpine grazing. Alpine pastures shape the cultivated landscape supporting a high biodiversity. However, more and more alpine pastures are abandoned and affected by shrub encroachment, leading to the disappearance of plant and animal biodiversity. As part of the «AlpFutur» collaborative project, the aim of this study was to highlight…
Environment

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

What would an organic Switzerland look like?

Switzerland‘s high purchasing power, natural site conditions, small-scale agricultural structure and political independence arguably make it more suitable than any other country for a conversion of entire regions to organic farming. The SWISSland forecast model is used to simulate a complete changeover to organic farming for the time period 2018–20, and to compare this with…
Environment

Aebi A., Zindel R.

Symbionts and arthropods – potential implications for biological control

Most arthropod species live in association with numerous bacteria. Their interactions can have different outcomes. While some bacteria are crucial for their host’s survival, others are facultative and their presence can have a negative, positive or neutral effect on the nutrition, reproduction or survival of their host. Some endosymbionts (such as Wolbachia for example) are…
Environment

Knauer K., Félix O.

Pesticides and surface water: practical protective measures

Plant protection products are applied to farmed land to protect crops from harmful organisms. From there, they might be transported via drift and run-off to adjacent habitats. For the active substances, regulatory acceptable concentrations (RAC) for aquatic organisms are determined during the authorization process. As part of the process of assessing the environmental risk, these…
Environment

Schrade S., Keck M.

Ammonia from cattle housing systems: development of emissions in Switzerland

Annual livestock numbers, the distribution of livestock housing systems and NH3 emission factors were used to calculate ammonia emissions (NH3) from cattle farming for the years 1990 to 2020. Emission factors for loose housing with outdoor exercise areas were computed using a model-based calculation based on emission measurements from six dairy housing systems, milk urea…
Environment

Zihlmann U., Jossi W., Oberholzer H., Weisskopf P., Richner W., Krebs H., Tschachtli R., Nussbaumer A.

Importance of the soil in the Burgrain farmingsystem trial

In the Burgrain field trial (1991–2008; Alberswil, Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland), where the soils have developed on alluvial and moraine sediments, it was found that the soil nature often had greater effects on the investigated parameters than the three different farming systems applied, which were «intensive IP» (Integrated Production) with intensive use of auxiliary substances,…
Environment

Schneider F., Rist S.

The significance of aesthetics for the adoption of no-tillage farming

No-tillage is an effective protective measure against erosion which offers ecological and economic advantages. Although it has spread continually in Switzerland since the mid-1980s and some cantons actively promote its adoption, the share of total agricultural land under no-tillage remains low (4 %). This study on reasons for adoption or rejection of no-tillage shows that…
Environment

Jahrl I., Rudmann C., Pfiffner L., Balmer O.

Motivations for the implementation of ecological compensation areas

Swiss agricultural policy is guided by the goal of improving the ecological services provided by farms through direct payments for ecological compensation areas (ECAs), but evaluation programs have shown that financial incentives alone do not guarantee the implementation of ECAs. We investigated, by means of structured interviews with conventional, integrated production, and organic farmers, which…
Environment

Chevillat V., Balmer O., Birrer S., Doppler V., Graf R., Jenny M.

Whole-farm advisory increases quality and quantity of ecological compensation areas

The areas of ecological compensation (AEC) required for farms receiving subventions have so far delivered modest results against the loss of biodiversity in cultivated landscape of Switzerland. Insufficient ecological quality and inadequate locations of these areas are to blame. The results of our study show that whole-farmadvisory can efficiently improve the situation even on intensive…