PRESENTATION SLIDE .pdf



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Session 2.2 – Crop diversification

Federal Department of Economic Affairs,
Education and Reseach
Agroscope

Why Swiss farmers choose to sow winter oilseed
rape with companion plants?
A. Baux – X. Bousselin – P. Schumacher

Introduction

Sowing companion plants or service plants (SP) with rapeseed to increase ecosystem services
- Competition with weeds?
- Improvement of nitrogen nutrition?
- Pest regulation ?
- Biomass production?
- …?

Swiss context
• Rapeseed is the first oilseed (22’658ha in 2019, source swiss granum)
• High treatment frequency (de Baan et al, 2015)
• Strong will to support environmental measures through subsidies (production
without fungicides and insecticides are supported)
• additional subsidies reduced tillage and herbicide suppression
• Increase of the use of service plants since 2015
• Sale of «ready-to-use» mixtures with both legumes
and non legumes species (4 to 7 species)

Survey among Swiss farmers
• Objectives:
 understanding the knowledge, motivations and fears of farmers
toward a new technique
 Defining the ideal environment for intercropping
 Identifying the main difficulties and success stories
• Method:
 Sent by email to all rapeseed producers
 33 questions on 4 themes :
• description of the farm,
• rapeseed management,
• opinion on SP,
• experience with SP

Diversity of swiss farms
• Differences between Western and Eastern Switzerland
• Yield
• Use of SP
Slight yield differences (source: agristat- 2003-2018)
ab

a

bc

ab

Source : Agristat, 2003 2018

ab

ab

cd

ab

d

Sowing SP is popular in Western Switzerland (20-30%)

Diversity of swiss farms

Proportion of answers (%)

• Differences between Western and Eastern Switzerland
• Farm size
• Crop management (soil tillage and plant protection level)
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%

Farm size
p<0.001

Livestock

ns

Western Switzerland

Soil tillage
p<0.01

Eastern Switzerland

Production System
P<0.001

Which farmers choose intercropping?
• Farmers located in Western Switzerland
• Farmers using reduced tillage and reduced crop protection («extenso» - no
fungicide or insecticide), with subsidies

500
400

300

150

200

100

100

50

100

0

0

0

300

p<0.01

500

P<0.001

P<0.001

400

200
300

150
100

200

50

100

0

0

Western Swz. Eastern Swz.

Western Swz.

Organic

Extensive

Small

Medium

Eastern Swz.

Conventional

Western Swz.

Large

Small

Medium

200

Large
OSR with CP
Pure OSR

P<0.001

Organic

200

250

Extensive

400

300

Conventional

250

600

Direct seeding

500

ns.

ns.

Reduced tillage

P<0.001

700

ns.

Crop protection
600

Plough

300

Soil tillage

350

800

Direct seeding

600

Livestock

Farm size

Reduced tillage

350

Plough

Location
700

Eastern Swz.

Crop protection
• Lower crop protection in Western Switzerland and when OSR is sown with SP
 Different strategies in Eastern and Western Switzerland
 Role of subsidies in management strategies
 Undersowing as a tool for pesticide reduction
# treatments
(herbicide, insecticide,
fungicide)

# answers

P-value

Western Switzerland
Eastern Switzerland

1.9
3.0

432
598

p<2e-16

Conventional
With SP
Partially with SP

2.7
0.8
2.0

893
96
41

p<2e-16

Farmers’ opinion on SP
reduce work
reduce costs
better preceding crop
improve soil quality
allow reducing fertilization
allow reducing fungicide
allow reducing insecticide
allow reducing herbicide
improve yield
0.0

10.0
Agree

20.0
partially agree

30.0

40.0

partially disagree

50.0
disagree

60.0

70.0

no opinion

80.0

90.0

100.0

Which species and future changes ?
What would you change ?

Various species of SP

Trials with
advisers

Home-made
mixtures

Other ready-touse mixtures

6-species mixture
Buckwheat, niger,
lentil, vetch,
berseem clover,
grasspea

4-species mixture
lentil, niger
berseem clover,
fenugreek

% answers

Nothing

43.9

Sowing date or sowing technique

32.3

More extensive or organic production

26.6

Soil tillage

18.7

Other species

18.0

Adapt N fertilization

6.5



Adaptation of crop management and even more extensive practices are considered



New species could help but moderate interest from farmers



Little interest for N nutrition improvement possibilities

Conclusions
• Large differences between Western and Eastern Switzerland : farm structure,
and crop management practices, but also cultural differences
• Better understanding farmers’ fears and motivations
• SP could contribute to the reduction of pesticides use
• Better knowledge of the role of each species in the mixtures could help
improving yield and N management

Thanks for your attention

Thanks you to all farmers who took the time to answer the survey


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