Element Cycles in Agricultural Soils on the Swiss Central Plateau (Mittelland)

Balanced nutrient and element cycles are essential for a sustainable management of agricultural soils. In the mid-1990s, ecological measures were introduced in Swiss agriculture. However, the national goals for the reduction of nutrient surpluses in agriculture could be achieved only partially.

An element balance model for the midlands demonstrates where and how land use and management change over the years. Land use changes are detected by means of remote sensing data and the Google Engine platform. The national model can be used to estimate trends in element fluxes in agriculture. The fluxes are linked with selected soil functions to evaluate, for example, filtration and control functions for nutrients in soils. The model identifies areas at risk of high nutrient deficits or nutrient excesses as well as soils in which control soil functions are highly affected.

Figure: Spatial distribution of selected farm types in the land management model.


Wulf. H, T. Mulder, M. Schaepman, A. Keller, P. Jörg. 2015. Remote Sensing of Soils. University of Zürich,
Remote Sensing Laboraties, Zürich. p.71. available at: