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Analysis of economic and environmental performance at enterprise level for Swiss agriculture

English title Analysis of economic and environmental performance at enterprise level for Swiss agriculture
Applicant Nemecek Thomas
Number 172373
Funding scheme NRP 73 Sustainable Economy
Research institution Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART Forschungsbereich Agrarökonomie und Agrartec Forschungsgruppe Betriebswirtschaft
Institution of higher education Research Institutes Agroscope - AGS
Main discipline Agricultural Engineering
Start/End 01.12.2017 - 30.04.2022
Approved amount 232'174.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Agricultural Engineering
Economics

Keywords (7)

farm enterprise; production branch; environmental performance; life cycle assessment (LCA) ; farm enterprise, production branch, product group; economic performance; Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN)

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Wir untersuchen die inneren Abläufe von Landwirtschaftsbetrieben, indem wir einzelne Betriebszweige, d.h. Bereiche innerhalb eines Betriebes, aus ökologischer und ökonomischer Sicht analysieren. Die gewonnenen Erkenntnisse leisten einen Beitrag zur Nachhaltigkeit der Schweizer Landwirtschaft.
Lay summary

Hintergrund
Die meisten Landwirtschaftsbetriebe fokussieren sich nicht auf ein einziges Produkt, sondern haben mehrere Betriebszweige. Beispielsweise halten sie Milchkühe und bauen auf ihren Feldern Weizen und Kartoffeln an. Viele Entscheidungen werden auf Stufe Betriebszweig gefällt, wie etwa die Düngungsintensität im Ackerbau oder die angestrebte Milchleistung. Aus ökologischer und ökonomischer Sicht ist es wichtig, besser zu verstehen, was auf Ebene der Betriebszweige genau vor sich geht.

Ziel
Wir untersuchen im Projekt, ob es auf Stufe der Betriebszweige einen positiven, negativen oder gar keinen Zusammenhang zwischen der Rentabilität und den Umweltwirkungen gibt. Weiter analysieren wir, welche Eigenschaften eines Betriebs die ökonomische und ökologische Performance beeinflussen. Schliesslich ermitteln wir das Einsparungspotenzial an natürlichen Ressourcen bei gleichzeitiger Effizienzsteigerung der Betriebe.

Bedeutung
Die Analyse von Rentabilität und Umweltwirkungen auf Ebene von Betriebszweigen ist ein absolutes Novum und leistet einen Beitrag hin zu einer nachhaltigeren Schweizer Landwirtschaft. Die gewonnenen Erkenntnisse werden mit Praktikern in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Schweizerischen Bauernverband und dem Arenenberg, dem landwirtschaftlichen Bildungs- und Beratungszentrum des Kantons Thurgau, besprochen. Die Ergebnisse werden anschliessend in landwirtschaftlichen Zeitschriften und wissenschaftlichen Artikeln veröffentlicht.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Nous étudions les processus internes des entreprises agricoles en conduisant une analyse écologique et économique des différentes branches de l’entreprise, c’est-à-dire des domaines de l’entreprise qui se sont spécialisés dans des produits divers. Les enseignements tirés de cette étude contribueront à la durabilité de l’agriculture suisse.
Lay summary

Contexte
La plupart des entreprises agricoles ne se contentent pas d’un seul produit, mais disposent de plusieurs branches d’exploitation. Elles détiennent par exemple des vaches laitières et cultivent du blé et des pommes de terre sur leurs champs. De nombreuses décisions sont prises au niveau de la branche d’exploitation, telles que la quantité d’engrais à épandre dans les champs ou le rendement laitier recherché. D’un point de vue écologique et économique il est important de mieux comprendre ce qui se passe au niveau de la branche d’exploitation.

Objectifs
Dans le projet, nous examinons s’il existe ou non un rapport positif ou négatif entre la rentabilité et l’impact environnemental au niveau de la branche d’exploitation. De plus, nous analysons quelles caractéristiques d’une exploitation ont une influence sur la performance économique et écologique. Enfin, nous déterminons le potentiel d’économies en ressources naturelles si une amélioration simultanée du rendement de l’exploitation doit être atteinte.

Importance
L’analyse de la rentabilité et des impacts environnementaux au niveau des branches d’exploitation constitue une nouveauté et contribue à une agriculture suisse plus durable. Les enseignements tirés de l’étude seront discutés avec les professionnels du secteur en collaboration avec l’Union suisse des paysans et le centre de formation agricole et de conseil Arenenberg du canton de Thurgovie. Les résultats seront ensuite publiés dans la presse agricole et dans des articles scientifiques.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
We are studying the internal mechanisms of farms by carrying out an ecological and economic analysis of individual enterprises of Swiss farms, i.e. the areas within the farms that specialise in different products. The insights thus gained will contribute towards the sustainability of Swiss agriculture.
Lay summary

Background
Most farms do not focus on a single product, but have several areas of activity (farm enterprises). For example, they may keep dairy cows and grow wheat and potatoes in their fields. Many decisions are made at the enterprise level, such as deciding on fertiliser intensity for arable crops, or the desired milk yield. From an ecological and economic point of view, it is important to gain a better understanding of precisely what exactly happens at the enterprise level.

Aims
In this project we want to find out whether there is a positive, negative or no correlation between profitability and environmental impacts at the enterprise level. We are also examining which characteristics of farms influence economic and ecological performance. Finally, we want to determine the potential for saving natural resources while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of operations.

Importance
The analysis of profitability and environmental impacts at the enterprise level is an entirely new activity, and it will contribute towards a sustainable Swiss agriculture. The insights thus gained will be discussed with practitioners in cooperation with the Swiss Farmers’ Union and Arenenberg, the agricultural educational and consulting centre of the canton of Thurgau (BBZ Arenenberg). The results will be published in agricultural journals and scientific articles.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Natural persons


Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Assessing between and within Product Group Variance of Environmental Efficiency of Swiss Agriculture Using Life Cycle Assessment and Data Envelopment Analysis
Pedolin Dario, Six Johan, Nemecek Thomas (2021), Assessing between and within Product Group Variance of Environmental Efficiency of Swiss Agriculture Using Life Cycle Assessment and Data Envelopment Analysis, in Agronomy, 11(9), 1862-1862.
How life cycle–based science and practice support the transition towards a sustainable economy
Stucki Matthias, Jattke Marleen, Berr Marcus, Desing Harald, Green Ashley, Hellweg Stefanie, Laurenti Rafael, Meglin Ronny, Muir Karen, Pedolin Dario, Shinde Rhythima, Welz Tobias, Keller Regula Lisa (2021), How life cycle–based science and practice support the transition towards a sustainable economy, in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 26(5), 1062-1069.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SGA Tagung 2022 Poster Do environment and economy go hand in hand on Swiss farms? 28.04.2022 FIBL Frick, Switzerland Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;
Reckenholz Kolloquium Talk given at a conference Environmental and economic analysis of Swiss farms at product group level 04.11.2021 Zürich, Switzerland Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;
LCM 2021 Poster Environmental and economic performance of Swiss farming products can be simultaneously improved 05.09.2021 Online, Germany Pedolin Dario; Nemecek Thomas;
Doktorandenkolloquium Agroscope Tänikon Individual talk Analyse von Umweltwirkungen und Ökonomie von Schweizer Landwirtschaft auf Produktgruppen Ebene 13.07.2021 Online, Switzerland El Benni Nadja; Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;
Sustainable Agroecosystems Group Meeting Individual talk Environmental and economic analysis of Swiss agriculture at product group level 17.06.2021 Online, Switzerland Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;
EAAE Seminar 2021 Talk given at a conference Using eco-efficiency to assess effect of price premium on sustainable agricultural production 13.05.2021 Online, Italy Pedolin Dario; Nemecek Thomas;
SETAC 2021 Talk given at a conference Combined assessment of environmental and economic performance of Swiss farms using LCA and data envelopment analysis 03.05.2021 Online, Germany Pedolin Dario; Nemecek Thomas;
Agroscope PhD & PostDoc Symposium 2021 Talk given at a conference Comparing environmental and economic impact of agricultural production using data envelopment analysis 18.03.2021 Online, Switzerland Pedolin Dario; Nemecek Thomas;
LCAFood 2020 Talk given at a conference Aggregating midpoint indicators for eco-efficiency using data envelopment analysis 13.10.2020 Online, Germany Pedolin Dario; Nemecek Thomas;
Discussion Forum LCA Talk given at a conference Applying Data Envelopment Analysis to aggregate Life Cycle Impacts for Eco-Efficiency 29.06.2020 Online, Switzerland Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;
PhD Seminar Agricultural Economics Talk given at a conference Environmental and economic analysis of Swiss farms at product group level 24.01.2020 Frick, Switzerland Pedolin Dario; El Benni Nadja; Nemecek Thomas;
IAS Doctoral Symposium Poster Environmental and economic analysis of Swiss farms at product group level 21.10.2019 Einsiedeln, Switzerland Pedolin Dario;
Sustainable Agroecosystems Group Meeting Individual talk Environmental and economic analysis of Swiss farms at product group level 13.03.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Pedolin Dario;
Doktorandenkolloquium Individual talk Ökologisch-Ökonomische Analyse von Schweizer Landwirtschaft auf Produktgruppenebene 12.02.2019 Tänikon, Switzerland Pedolin Dario;
Agroscope PhD and Post-Doc symposium Poster EnterpriseTwice: economic and environmental performance of agricultural enterprises 13.09.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Nemecek Thomas; Pedolin Dario;


Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop "Ökologische und ökonomische Analyse von Schweizer Landwirtschaftsbetrieben" 07.10.2021 Online, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Other activities Policy Brief Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland 2022
Media relations: print media, online media Wann gehen Umweltschutz und Ökonomie Hand in Hand UFA Revue German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2022

Abstract

Given that Swiss farms are typically comprised of several enterprises (e.g. wheat or dairy cows), data at enterprise level are highly relevant because important farm management decisions such as the level of production intensity are taken at enterprise level. Based on a sample of totally 274 farm observations from the Swiss Farm Accountancy Data Network, which also includes farm life cycle assessments, the project derives economic and environmental data at the farm enterprise or product group level, representing the first assessment of this kind in Switzerland. The project will analyse whether there are synergies or trade-offs between the economic and environmental performances of all 14 available product groups. Furthermore, the determinants of both performances will be analysed. Finally, we will calculate the potential resource savings if low-performing enterprises were to catch up with the best-performing ones. In collaboration with Arenenberg (the centre for extension services of the canton of Thurgau) and the Swiss Farmers’ Union, tangible suggestions for dairy farm management will be outlined in a workshop in order to optimise adaptation. Given the importance of agriculture in the food value chain, the project’s results will contribute to a more sustainable food production in Switzerland.
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