Wildlife-friendly agriculture

    If Swiss agriculture is to be called sustainable, it is expected to enable long-term persistence of native wildlife.

    Aims

    By means of revitalisation, Swiss farmers can create a lasting value for nature and landscapes. To ensure the future of wildlife in agricultural areas, farmland should consist of at least 15 % of high-quality ecological compensation areas; in addition, sustainable farming practices and harvest techniques are required.

    Our standpoint: une agriculture respectueuse de la faune sauvage

    Approach

    The Swiss Ornithological Institute supports a wildlife-friendly agriculture by providing information and education.

    We claim that

    • agriculture embraces a multifunctionality approach anchored in the Swiss federal constitution and should hence not merely focus on the production of food but also on the production of biodiversity,
    • agriculture favours biodiversity on farmland with high-quality compensation areas and adequate cropping systems,
    • agricultural education and advisory services put more emphasis on ecological aspects and wildlife-friendly cropping practices
    • decision makers prompt the shift from general subsidies to ecologically effective payments
    • decision makers link ecological payments more closely to habitat requirements of typical and threatened farmland species.

    Significance

    A wildlife-friendly agriculture is of crucial importance for numerous species. Without the grey partridge, the lapwing, the little owl, the hoopoe, the skylark, the redstart and the corn bunting, farmland would become a mere "agricultural desert". With a wildlife-friendly agriculture, a more vital and healthier environment is created offering exciting landscapes and increased quality of life.

    Results

    Together with local farmers and other partners we work to ecologically restore agricultural areas and that such locally-led restoration programmes result in increased biodiversity (Klettgau, Wauwiler Moos, St. Galler Rheintal). To effectively enhance biodiversity, sufficient ecological compensation areas have to be implemented, and they should be of high ecological quality. Wildflower areas (similar to set-asides) and rotation fallows have repeatedly been shown to be extremely valuable for biodiversity.

    To get farmers to implement biodiversity measures, a thorough advisory service is needed. A whole-farm advisory service including an analysis of ecological as well as economic aspects has proved very useful. During advisory, the indicator species system and the credit point system were helpful (Scoring with biodiversity).

    Collaborating closely with agricultural organisations, we make sure that wildlife-friendly produced foods are marketed and the higher production costs are remunerated adequately (projects: re-cultivation of Emmer and Einkorn, TerraSuisse).

    Project management

    Simon Birrer, Markus Jenny

    Partners

    IP Suisse
    Institut de recherche sur l´agriculture biologique (FiBL)
    Migros
    Several local and regional partners

    Publications

    Zellweger-Fischer, J., P. Althaus, S. Birrer, M. Jenny, L. Pfiffner & S. Stöckli (2016):
    Relevé de la biodiversité sur les exploitations agricoles à l'aide d'un système à points.
    Birrer, S., P. Mosimann-Kampe, M. Nuber, S. Strebel & N. Zbinden (2013):
    Ökologischer Ausgleich und Brutvögel - das Beispiel Grosses Moos 1997-2009.
    Pasinelli, G., K. Meichtry-Stier, S. Birrer, B. Baur & M. Duss (2013):
    Habitat Quality and Geometry Affect Patch Occupancy of Two Orthopteran Species.
    Zollinger, J. L., S. Birrer, N. Zbinden & F. Korner-Nievergelt (2013):
    The optimal age of sown field margins for breeding farmland birds.
    Chevillat, V., O. Balmer, S. Birrer, V. Doppler, R. Graf, M. Jenny, L. Pfiffner, C. Rudmann & J. Zellweger-Fischer (2012):
    Plus de surfaces de compensation écologique et de meilleure qualité grâce au conseil.