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Lichtsteiner S.,University of Basel | Oehen B.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau Fibl
Agrarforschung Schweiz | Year: 2015

In many countries of the northern hemisphere, populations of honey bees and other pollinating insects have been in decline for some years. The causes of this decline have not yet fully been clarified. There are, however, strong indications that intensive agriculture can impact pollinators negatively. Many agricultural activities affect pollinating insects and thus affect the work of beekeepers. Farmers, for their part, depend on the ecosystem service of pollination. Although numerous studies on the health status of honey bees are now available, Switzerland’s beekeepers and farmers have never been asked how they perceive the associated problems and how they view approaches to solving these problems. These issues were explored in a qualitative survey. Results showed that the surveyed farmers generally know little about the problems related to honey bees. Among the beekeepers, perceptions of problems and views concerning solution-oriented approaches are very diverse. Although many beekeepers report negative experiences with agricultural activities, their general attitude towards agriculture is positive. In their view, most problems arise from diseases and parasites of bees, and from the ways that individual beekeepers manage their hives. More care than in the past should be taken to maintain this good relationship between farmers and beekeepers, as the mutual dependence is large. © 2015, AMTRA - Association pour la Mise en Valeur des Travaux de la Recherche Agronomique. All rights reserved.

Gunst L.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tanikon | Richner W.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tanikon | Mader P.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau Fibl | Mayer J.,ART Agroscope Reckenholz Tanikon
Agrarforschung Schweiz | Year: 2013

The nutrient supply of winter wheat was one of the topics investigated by the DOC long-term system comparison from 1978 to 2003. The aim of this trial is to provide evidence of nutrient-related yield limitations in organic farming systems. Substantial differences in yield between organic and conventional farming systems and different fertilisation intensities were primarily attributed to the delivery of nutrients - in particular, nitrogen - to the plants. Because the soil phosphorus supply was adequate in all DOC systems over the entire trial period, phosphorus was ruled out as a co-limiting factor. The plant analyses of straw and grain exhibited high figures and a low differentiation for phosphorus, thus confirming the soil findings. By contrast, potassium was identified along with nitrogen as a co-limiting factor in the organic systems at the low fertilisation intensity and in the unfertilised control. This was indicated by the differentiation of potassium content in the above-ground biomass and the available soil potassium content. Despite this, both the bio-dynamic and bio-organic system exhibited a balanced potassium supply at the high fertilisation intensity. Both bio-systems may therefore be considered sustainable at this fertilisation intensity.

To conserve and enhance biodiversity in agricultural areas, the Swiss Confederation uses two different approaches that support biodiversity enhancement areas (Biodiversitäts-Förderflächen, BFF). The action-oriented approach (Massnahmen-orientierter Ansatz, MOA) compensates farmers for prescribed management measures, whereas the result-oriented approach (Resultat-orientierter Ansatz, ROA) compensates farmers for proven ecological results. This second approach, which in the Swiss Ordinance on Direct Payments in Agriculture builds on the MOA, is expected to be more effective and efficient. This is of particular significance in the mountain regions where future biodiversity losses are expected to increase. The successful implementation of result-oriented measures demands much commitment and initiative of the mountain farmers. To develop such commitment, farmers must first accept the ROA. To assess how mountain farmers perceive the ROA compared with the MOA and if they are willing to implement result-oriented measures, 146 Swiss German farmers in mountain zones I–IV were interviewed using a written questionnaire. Three out of four farmers interviewed prefer the MOA over the ROA for biodiversity enhancement because they think the MOA involves fewer inspections and assures more direct payments than the ROA. Organic and low-input mountain farmers are more willing to implement the ROA than conventional farmers. All respondents call for a more long-term planning horizon and higher payments for biodiversity enhancement areas to compensate them for any increased commitment with respect to both the ROA and the MOA. Mountain farmers who prefer the ROA prefer other specific framework conditions for the successful implementation of result-oriented measures than mountain farmers who prefer the MOA. These results can be used to deliver targeted and effective communications to the public sector and educational programmes to mountain farmers. © 2015, A M T R A - Association pour la Mise en Valeur des Travaux de la Recherche Agronomique. All rights reserved.

Bai M.,Justus Liebig University | Kostler M.,Justus Liebig University | Kunstmann J.,Geohumus International GmbH | Wilske B.,Justus Liebig University | And 5 more authors.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry | Year: 2011

A system was developed for the automatic measurements of 13CO2 efflux to determine biodegradation of extra carbon amendments to soils. The system combines wavelength-scanned cavity ring down laser spectroscopy (WS-CRDS) with the open-dynamic chamber (ODC) method. The WS-CRDS instrument and a batch of 24 ODC are coupled via microprocessor- controlled valves. Determination of the biodegradation requires a known δ13C value and the applied mass of the carbon compounds, and the biodegradation is calculated based on the 13CO2 mixing ratio (ppm) sampled from the headspace of the chambers. The WS-CRDS system provided accurate detection based on parallel samples of three standard gases (13CO2 of 2, 11 and 22 ppm) that were measured simultaneously by isotope ratio mass spectrometry (linear regression R2 = 0.99). Repeated checking with the same standards showed that the WS-CRDS system showed no drift over seven months. The applicability of the ODC was checked against the closed static chamber (CSC) method using the rapid biodegradation of cane sugar - δ13C-labeled through C4 photosynthesis. There was no significant difference between the results from 7-min ODC and 120-min CSC measurements. Further, a test using samples of either cane sugar (C4) or beetroot sugar (C3)mixed into standard soil proved the target functionality of the system, which is to identify the biodegradation of carbon sources with significantly different isotopic signatures. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Notz C.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau Fibl | Hassig M.,University of Zurich
Schweizer Archiv fur Tierheilkunde | Year: 2013

The present study examines the efficacy of a homeopathic dry cow prophylaxis in a randomized, placebo controlled case-control field trial. The study was conducted in 24 Brown Swiss farms in the Engadine (Swiss mountain region). The effect of the used homeopathic substances were combined with antibiotics in justified cases. At drying off and in the 3rd and 5th week of lactation the udders were clinically examined and quarter milk samples were taken for bacteriological and cytological analysis. In addition, milk recording data of the first 6 milk testing were included in the evaluations. The used homeopathic prophylaxis at drying off did not show any effect in the incidence of dry cow mastitis and mastitis in the first 120 days of lactation. However, at day 21 post partum significantly fewer animals in the verum group showed a bacteriological finding of a major pathogen, but more animals in this group suffered from a secretion disorder. It has been shown that at the 6th milk test pp significantly more animals of the verum group had a somatic cell count below 100'000 cells/ml than the control group. © 2013 Verlag Hans Huber, Hogrefe AG, Bern.

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