Ecological compensation areas in the agriculture
Since 1993 the promotion of ecological aspects, especially the enhancement of faunistic and floristic diversity, has become a main aim of the Swiss agricultural policy. These efforts include regulations concerning the application of pesticides, the balance of the nutrient budget, the crop rotation, livestock husbandry and the maintenance of ecological compensation areas. Direct payments are a crucial element in the new agriculture policy as a compensation for reduced prices for agricultural products and special ecological services. Since 1999 the farmers only have access to subsidy payments if the above-mentioned conditions are fulfilled. One of these conditions is to set aside 7% of the farmland as ecological compensation areas, including different types of extensively used grassland, hedgerows and bushes, wildflower strips or other elements.