Langenthal: farmers have to adjust – Region: Oberaargau

Although it is not yet meteorological, it is already clear that this is a remarkably hot and dry summer. The high temperatures and low rainfall have been specially added to agriculture.

Potatoes, corn and sugar beets – summer crops that are potentially more exposed to drought stress. The grass industry, however, is also hit hard, causing a shortage of roughage. In recent years, the western part of Switzerland was particularly affected, but this year North-East Switzerland was particularly affected by the drought. Many farmers had to carry part of their winter reserves, in some cases even cattle were slaughtered.

Against this background and under the current title: "Future Grassland Switzerland: even more efficient, greener, smarter?" Last Thursday at the Waldhof conference in Langenthal, developments were presented that could support farmers in their ecological and economic production. For example, the more effective use of machines, the determination of the optimal harvest time or the use of digital tools.

Changes are necessary

"You can not compensate everything with technology," says Marco Meisser, who works for Agroscope and specializes in pastoral care. Since the beginning of the measurements in 1864, a temperature rise of about two degrees has occurred in Switzerland. The predictions show an increase of another two to three degrees by 2060 – that would be in Geneva about the climate in Tuscany. "The situation on the central plateau will increase in the future and extreme events will occur more often and more frequently," says Meisser.

During the conference he explained how to deal with the drought and the recommended measures: feed more and more canned food, buy suitable mixtures for dry periods, more specifically fertilize. Or use more intermediate feed, ie growth between two main crops, for example Alexandrian-Persian mixtures of clover and ryegrass. In the long term, it will not be possible to avoid the adjustment of crops such as millet as an addition to corn.

Longer growing season

Despite the water shortages that exist in some places, Switzerland is still far from a water hazard. Extra irrigation during the production of feed is therefore an alternative. "The grasslands benefit quite well from extra water, but the question is whether this is practical for the farmer," says Meisser.

It is not inconceivable that the feed production will be promoted at a higher altitude in the future if the rainfall in the humid mountain areas decreases somewhat. In contrast to temperatures that are expected to increase, predictions of rainfall development are much more difficult, Meisser said.

However, the change in climatic conditions does not mean that agriculture will become impossible – but that it will change. "We find that the vegetation period takes longer: spring comes earlier and autumn takes longer," says Meisser. This offers opportunities because you can benefit from good conditions at the beginning and at the end of the season. A warmer climate also promotes the cultivation of other crops, such as viticulture.

"For farmers, this means first and foremost that they have to adapt," says Meisser. This is nothing new, because farmers have always lived on and with nature. In the future, however, it would be more complicated for them, despite technical aids. (Berner newspaper)

Created: 19.08.2018, 17:33 clock

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