Where crop production and livestock husbandry go hand-in-hand, synergies can be exploited. Throughout Europe, however, we are increasingly seeing regional specialisation in agriculture. In Switzerland, agricultural diversity remains high. Switzerland – a model pupil?
In Europe one finds entire regions specialising in a single type of farming. Various environmental problems tend to go hand-in-hand with such overspecialisation, however. Areas exclusively devoted to arable crops are heavily dependent on the importation of synthetic fertilisers, and are also often reliant on high quantities of plant-protection products owing to inadequate crop rotation and the absence of habitats for beneficial organisms. By contrast, regions with a high livestock density import nutrients in the form of feedstuffs, but are nonetheless hard-pressed to make good use of the nutrients from the farmyard manure. A combination of arable farming and livestock husbandry can close nutrient cycles, optimise crop rotations and promote landscape diversity.
The object of the European research project ‘Cantogether' (Crops and Animals Together) is to develop innovative mixed farming systems, pursuing both intra- and cross-farm approaches. Options are to be highlighted by means of a wide variety of case studies conducted within Europe, two of which originate in Switzerland:
- Analysis of the data from the LCA-FADN project [Link auf entsprechende Projektseite]: The intention is to determine from the existing data which farms produce in a particularly environmentally friendly manner. A detailed analysis of these farms should allow us to identify success factors.
- Trans-regional cooperation mountain & plain: Using the example of cattle production, the aim is to determine whether trans-regional collaborative production can help to achieve greater eco-efficiency.
The analysis of the case studies is comprehensive. LCA's are created using SALCA and profitability analyses are conducted. Moreover, a wide range of stakeholders are included from the outset. Thus, within the meaning of sustainability, solutions developed by Cantogether are to be underpinned by the three pillars of economy, ecology and society.
Agroscope is involved in all the work packages of the project. Work Package 4 - Environmental Assessment - is run by the LCA Research Group, whilst Agroscope is responsible for specific tasks in each of Work Packages 1, 2, 3 and 5.