Digital innovations for sustainable agriculture


In an interdisciplinary team at the ETH Zurich, we are studying the technical, agricultural and socio-economic factors that facilitate the use of innovative information and communication technologies for a sustainable Swiss agriculture.

Project description (ongoing research project)

In our “InnoFarm” project we are examining how drones and the latest sensor technology can be utilised in order to more precisely and efficiently use nitrogen and other additives in agriculture. With the aid of mobile, high-resolution measurement equipment we aim to quantify how the use of “precision agriculture” methods influences greenhouse gas and nitrate emissions. Based on the results, we will analyse the economic benefits of these technologies in Switzerland’s small-scale agriculture sector. To this end, we are examining various cooperation models between farmers. In this way, we will show under which policy and management measures new information and communication technologies can contribute towards sustainable agriculture.


New digital monitoring methods combined with automated data evaluation procedures enable a more precise application of agricultural production factors, such as pesticides or fertilisers. Thus, agriculture can become more environmentally friendly without a drop in productivity. However, only a holistic consideration of technical, agronomic and socio-economic factors can create the prerequisites for achieving added value in sustainable agricultural and food production.


The main aim of the project is to demonstrate how combining new information and communication technologies with farm-based cooperation models can contribute towards the sustainable development of Swiss agriculture. We want to identify new applications for drones in applying fertilisers and quantify their environmental impacts. In addition, we want to determine the costs and benefits of these technologies and thus provide a decision-making basis for management and policy makers.


Using quantitative analyses, the project’s findings will expand the knowledge base for farmers, advisers, technology developers and politicians. With this project, we are enabling the increased use of innovative solutions in the agricultural sector and opening up new opportunities for the further development of agricultural policy. ”InnoFarm” demonstrates solutions for more efficient, more innovative and more sustainable food production in Swiss agriculture.

Original title

Reconciling innovative farming practices and networks to enable Sustainable development of smart Swiss farming systems (InnoFarm)

Project leaders

Project leaders

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Finger, Gruppe für Agrarökonomie und -politik, ETH Zürich
  • Dr. Robert Huber, Gruppe für Agrarökonomie und -politik, ETH Zürich
  • Prof. Dr. Nina Buchmann, Institut für Agrarwissenschaften, ETH Zürich
  • Prof. Dr. Achim Walter, Institut für Agrarwissenschaften, ETH Zürich

Project partners

  • DigiN Project (Agroscope)
  • European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories - EARSeL
  • Nitrogäu Project (FiBL)
  • SENsing of Scalable ECOphysiological traits – Senseco (COST action)



Further information on this content



Prof. Dr. Robert Finger Gruppe für Agrarökonomie und -politik, ETH Zürich Sonneggstrasse 33 8092 Zürich +41 44 632 53 92

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