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Richner N.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Holderegger R.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | Holderegger R.,Universitatsstrasse 16 | Linder H.P.,University of Zürich | Walter T.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS
Weed Research | Year: 2015

Changing agricultural practices have dramatically altered the arable flora of Europe since the Second World War. We conducted a meta-analysis of the available literature to assess the dynamics of species richness and species traits in the arable flora across Europe during this time period. We found a total of 32 publications, yielding 53 data sets with an average number of 252 studied plots per data set. Average species number per plot of arable plants across all data sets declined by about 20%. However, twelve data sets showed an increase in average species number per plot, including all studies starting after 1980. Plant species preferring nutrient-rich sites, neophytes and monocotyledons generally increased since 1980, while characteristic or threatened species of arable weed communities further declined. This temporal development of the European arable flora suggests that the changes happening in agricultural management since the 1980s, such as organic farming and reduced pesticide input, may have helped slow the decline of the arable flora in terms of species number, but not in terms of characteristic or threatened arable weeds. Hence, more specific measures are necessary to stop decline of the latter, making sure that these measures are advantageous for rare and characteristic arable species, but not for harmful weeds. Weed Research © 2015 European Weed Research Society.


Duelli P.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | Johnson J.B.,University of Idaho | Waldburger M.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Henry C.S.,University of Connecticut
Annals of the Entomological Society of America | Year: 2014

Green lacewings in the genus Chrysoperla are not always green. They can be yellow (autosomal recessive mutant); change from whitish-yellow to green as young adults; or temporarily turn yellowish, reddish, or brown during diapause. New findings on a yellow mutant in a natural population in southern California and on species-specific diapause coloration are presented, old findings are reviewed, and the adaptive value of color variability and color change in the genus is discussed. © 2014 Entomological Society of America.


PubMed | Eurofins, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, University of Zürich, University of Aveiro and 20 more.
Type: Comparative Study | Journal: Journal of agricultural and food chemistry | Year: 2016

Biochar produced by pyrolysis of organic residues is increasingly used for soil amendment and many other applications. However, analytical methods for its physical and chemical characterization are yet far from being specifically adapted, optimized, and standardized. Therefore, COST Action TD1107 conducted an interlaboratory comparison in which 22 laboratories from 12 countries analyzed three different types of biochar for 38 physical-chemical parameters (macro- and microelements, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pH, electrical conductivity, and specific surface area) with their preferential methods. The data were evaluated in detail using professional interlaboratory testing software. Whereas intralaboratory repeatability was generally good or at least acceptable, interlaboratory reproducibility was mostly not (20% < mean reproducibility standard deviation < 460%). This paper contributes to better comparability of biochar data published already and provides recommendations to improve and harmonize specific methods for biochar analysis in the future.


Carlsson P.,Masaryk University | Literak J.,Masaryk University | Dusek L.,Masaryk University | Hofman J.,Masaryk University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Soils and Sediments | Year: 2016

Purpose: The scope of this article was to investigate the spatial and temporal variability of enantiomeric fractions (EFs) of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in soil compared to the uncertainty of the analytical data. Materials and methods: Soil samples were taken with high spatial resolution at two sites in Czech Republic in 2008 to investigate variability on a small spatial scale. In addition, composite soil samples were taken from ten sites in 2005 and 2008 to investigate temporal variations. All samples were analysed for a suite of soil properties as well as concentrations and EFs of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) -95, PCB-132 and PCB-149; α-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH); o,p′-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT); and o,p′-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD). Results and discussion: Median EFs of PCB-95 and PCB-149, α-HCH, o,p′-DDT and o,p′-DDD did not change significantly on the sites sampled in 2005 and again in 2008, while PCB-132 changed from EF = 0.38 to EF = 0.53. The sampling methodology is therefore very important, and composite samples will not be the best option if enantioselective degradation processes are investigated. Non-racemic EFs of POPs in the subsampled sites in 2008 were correlated to soil parameters, such as total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen and humic acids. These parameters are site specific and might vary on a small scale. This can explain why certain soil parameters are reported as significantly correlated with non-racemic EFs of chiral POPs in some studies, but not always in other similar studies. Conclusions: While composite samples may still represent the overall prevailing EF range, they are not ideally suited to study enantiomeric degradation processes, which are taking place at a relative small scale, depending on the heterogeneity of soil parameters such as TOC, total organic nitrogen (TON) and humic acids. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Goldberg E.,ETH Zurich | Scheringer M.,ETH Zurich | Bucheli T.D.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Hungerbuhler K.,ETH Zurich
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2014

To reliably assess the fate of engineered nanoparticles (ENP) in soil, it is important to understand the performance of models employed to predict vertical ENP transport. We assess the ability of seven routinely employed particle transport models (PTMs) to simulate hyperexponential (HE), nonmonotonic (NM), linearly decreasing (LD), and monotonically increasing (MI) retention profiles (RPs) and the corresponding breakthrough curves (BTCs) from soil column experiments with ENPs. Several important observations are noted. First, more complex PTMs do not necessarily perform better than simpler PTMs. To avoid applying overparameterized PTMs, multiple PTMs should be applied and the best model selected. Second, application of the selected models to simulate NM and MI profiles results in poor model performance. Third, the selected models can well-approximate LD profiles. However, because the models cannot explicitly generate LD retention, these models have low predictive power to simulate the behavior of ENPs that present LD profiles. Fourth, a term for blocking can often be accounted for by parameter variation in models that do not explicitly include a term for blocking. We recommend that model performance be analyzed for RPs and BTCs separately; simultaneous fitting to the RP and BTC should be performed only under conditions where sufficient parameter validation is possible to justify the selection of a particular model. © 2014 American Chemical Society.


Koltowski M.,Maria Curie Sklodowska University | Hilber I.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Bucheli T.D.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Oleszczuk P.,Maria Curie Sklodowska University
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2016

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of steam activation of biochars on the immobilization of freely dissolved (Cfree) and bioaccessible fraction (Cbioacc) of PAHs in soils. Additionally, the toxicity to various organisms like Vibrio fischeri, Lepidium sativum and Folsomia candida was measured before and after the amendment of biochars to soils. Three biochars produced from willow, coconut and wheat straw were steam activated and added to three different soils with varying content and origin of PAHs (coke vs. bitumen). The soils with the addition of the biochars (activated and non-activated) were incubated for a period of 60days. Steam activation of the biochars resulted in more pronounced reduction of both Cfree and Cbioacc. The range of the increase in effectiveness was from 10 to 84% for Cfree and from 50 to 99% for Cbioacc. In contrast, the effect of activation on the toxicity of the soils studied varied greatly and was specific to a particular test and soil type. Essentially, biochar activation did not result in a change of phytotoxicity, but it increased or decreased (depending on the parameter, type of biochar, contaminant source, and soil and soil type) the toxic effect to F. candida, and decreased the toxicity of leachates to V. fischeri. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS and Maria Curie Sklodowska University
Type: | Journal: The Science of the total environment | Year: 2016

The aim of this study was to determine the effect of steam activation of biochars on the immobilization of freely dissolved (Cfree) and bioaccessible fraction (Cbioacc) of PAHs in soils. Additionally, the toxicity to various organisms like Vibrio fischeri, Lepidium sativum and Folsomia candida was measured before and after the amendment of biochars to soils. Three biochars produced from willow, coconut and wheat straw were steam activated and added to three different soils with varying content and origin of PAHs (coke vs. bitumen). The soils with the addition of the biochars (activated and non-activated) were incubated for a period of 60days. Steam activation of the biochars resulted in more pronounced reduction of both Cfree and Cbioacc. The range of the increase in effectiveness was from 10 to 84% for Cfree and from 50 to 99% for Cbioacc. In contrast, the effect of activation on the toxicity of the soils studied varied greatly and was specific to a particular test and soil type. Essentially, biochar activation did not result in a change of phytotoxicity, but it increased or decreased (depending on the parameter, type of biochar, contaminant source, and soil and soil type) the toxic effect to F. candida, and decreased the toxicity of leachates to V. fischeri.


Oberholzer H.R.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Leifeld J.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Mayer J.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS
Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science | Year: 2014

Changes in land-use and agricultural management affect soil organic C (SOC) storage and soil fertility. Grassland to cropland conversion is often accompanied by SOC losses. However, fertilization, crop rotation, and crop residue management can offset some SOC losses or even convert arable soils into C sinks. This paper presents the first assessment of changes in SOC stocks and crop yields in a 60-year field trial, the Zurich Organic Fertilization Experiment A493 (ZOFE) in Switzerland. The experiment comprises 12 treatments with different organic, inorganic and combined fertilization regimes. Since conversion to arable land use in 1949, all treatments have lost SOC at annual rates of 0.10-0.25 t C ha-1, with estimated mean annual C inputs from organic fertilizers and aboveground and belowground plant residues of 0.6-2.4 t C ha-1. In all treatments, SOC losses are still in progress, indicating that a new equilibrium has not yet been reached. Crop yields have responded sensitively to advances in plant breeding and in fertilization. However, in ZOFE high yields can only be ensured when mineral fertilizer is applied at rates typical for modern agriculture, with yields of main crops (winter wheat, maize, potatoes, clover-grass ley) decreasing by 25-50% when manure without additional mineral fertilizer is applied. ZOFE shows that land-use change from non-intensively managed grassland to cropland leads to soil C losses of 15-40%, even in rotations including legumes and intercrops, improved agricultural management and organic fertilizer application. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Grant R.F.,University of Alberta | Neftel A.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS | Calanca P.,Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS
Biogeosciences | Year: 2016

Large variability in N2O emissions from managed grasslands may occur because most emissions originate in surface litter or near-surface soil where variability in soil water content (θ) and temperature (Ts) is greatest. To determine whether temporal variability in θ and Ts of surface litter and near-surface soil could explain this in N2O emissions, a simulation experiment was conducted with ecosys, a comprehensive mathematical model of terrestrial ecosystems in which processes governing N2O emissions were represented at high temporal and spatial resolution. Model performance was verified by comparing N2O emissions, CO2 and energy exchange, and θ and Ts modelled by ecosys with those measured by automated chambers, eddy covariance (EC) and soil sensors on an hourly timescale during several emission events from 2004 to 2009 in an intensively managed pasture at Oensingen, Switzerland. Both modelled and measured events were induced by precipitation following harvesting and subsequent fertilizing or manuring. These events were brief (2-5 days) with maximum N2O effluxes that varied from <1 mgNm-2 h-1 in early spring and autumn to 3 mgNm-2 h-1 in summer. Only very small emissions were modelled or measured outside these events. In the model, emissions were generated almost entirely in surface litter or near-surface (0-2 cm) soil, at rates driven by N availability with fertilization vs. N uptake with grassland regrowth and by O2 supply controlled by litter and soil wetting relative to O2 demand from microbial respiration. In the model, NOx availability relative to O2 limitation governed both the reduction of more oxidized electron acceptors to N2O and the reduction of N2O to N2, so that the magnitude of N2O emissions was not simply related to surface and near-surface θ and Ts. Modelled N2O emissions were found to be sensitive to defoliation intensity and timing which controlled plant N uptake and soil θ and Ts prior to and during emission events. Reducing leaf area index (LAI) remaining after defoliation to half that under current practice and delaying harvesting by 5 days raised modelled N2O emissions by as much as 80% during subsequent events and by an average of 43% annually. Modelled N2O emissions were also found to be sensitive to surface soil properties. Increasing near-surface bulk density by 10% raised N2O emissions by as much as 100% during emission events and by an average of 23% annually. Relatively small spatial variation in management practices and soil surface properties could therefore cause the large spatial variation in N2O emissions commonly found in field studies. The global warming potential from annual N2O emissions in this intensively managed grassland largely offset those from net C uptake in both modelled and field experiments. However, model results indicated that this offset could be adversely affected by suboptimal land management and soil properties. © 2016 Author(s).


PubMed | Agroscope Institute for Sustainability science ISS
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Environmental science & technology | Year: 2014

Natural toxins such as mycotoxins or phytotoxins (bioactive compounds from fungi and plants, respectively) have been widely studied in food and feed, where they are stated to out-compete synthetic chemicals in their overall human and animal toxicological risk. A similar perception and awareness is yet largely missing for environmental safety. This article attempts to raise concern in this regard, by providing (circumstantial) evidence that phytotoxins in particular can be emitted into the environment, where they may contribute to the complex mixture of organic micropollutants. Exposures can be orders-of-magnitude higher in anthropogenically managed/affected (agro-)ecosystems than in the pristine environment.

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