Interaction of economy and ecology in Swiss farms


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.

Project description (ongoing research project)

We are studying a group of operations from Agroscope’s test farm network for which detailed bookkeeping and a life cycle assessment are available. The data will be prepared so that profitability and various environmental impacts – such as global warming potential, ozone formation or acidification – are available for each line of business. At the enterprise level we are examining whether there is a link between environmental impacts and the economic situation. This association may be positive or negative – leading to synergies or trade-offs – or not exist at all.


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.


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.


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.

Original title

Analysis of Economic and Environmental Performance at Enterprise Level for Swiss Agriculture

Project leaders

Project leaders

  • Dr. Thomas Nemecek, Agroscope
  • Dr. Nadja El Benni, Agroscope

Project partner

  • Dr. Markus Lips



Further information on this content



Dr. Thomas Nemecek Agroscope Reckenholzstrasse 191 8046 Zürich +41 58 468 72 54

On this Subject