Agro-ecosystems

Agrar-Ökosysteme

As a result of the rapidly growing human population, mankind faces the enormous challenge to increase agricultural productivity. At the same time the sustainability of agricultural systems need to be improved because of negative effects of agriculture on the environment and an unsustainable use of natural resources.

In our research group we develop and optimise sustainable farming systems, particularly for organic farming, and with special focus on plant-soil interactions. Not only do we search for practical solutions for producing in an eco-friendly and resource-efficient manner; we also investigate the way in which soil ecosystems function, in order to carry on optimising sustainability and crop yields in the long term. We study mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and other plant-growth-promoting soil microorganisms. In future times of nutrient shortage the importance of these microorganisms will rise considerably, since they help plants absorb nutrients efficiently from the soil.

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Farming System and Tillage Experiment Agroscope

The economic and ecological effects of different agricultural management practices, like tillage intensity or crop rotation in arable farming can only be judged over the long term. Especially soil- and resource-saving farming methods must be tested in view of rising energy and fertiliser prices.

EU-Project OSCAR: Cover Crops and Living Mulches

A new European research project has started in April 2012 to develop novel cropping systems based on cover crops and living mulches. The 4 year project, called OSCAR brings together 20 partners from 11 countries.

Network of Swiss Organic Farms

Using a surveyed network of organic farms, we try to gain knowledge about agricultural management techniques in organic farming and their effect on crop yield and soil biodiversity.

Innovation Hubs for Soil-improving Cropping Systems

Soil-improving cropping systems aim to maintain soil functions. To assess the effectiveness of such systems, our research team are setting up innovation hubs with the help of pioneering farms that have already worked in this field.