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Department of Crop Sciences

The Department of Crop Sciences has extensive applied and strategic research and development  (R&D) and technology transfer experience in organic and low input production of fruit, grapevine, vegetable, and arable production systems. To ensure yield security and product quality while minimizing unwanted side-effects, we integrate crop management, varietal pest/disease resistance and crop protection while optimizing eco-system services such as biodiversity, pollination, natural disease and pest control, and soil fertility. Our research activities generally include all key players along the production and marketing chain and aim at:

  • Ensuring productivity and quality of organic and low input crop production systems
  • Exploiting crop and varietal diversity
  • Developing and implementing innovative pest and disease management tools and strategies
  • Integrating functional agro-biodiversity in organic cropping systems
  • Boosting biodiversity in crops and landscapes, and
  • Ensuring the compatibility of novel inputs, tools, and techniques with the principles of organic farming

The Department of Crop Sciences has state-of-the-art facilities for development and evaluation of plant protection products and beneficial organisms including indoors screening bioassays, field experimentation compliant with EPPO standards, analysis (GC, HPTLC) and quantitative realtime PCR for gene expression assays and monitoring of pest/beneficial organism populations. Facilities include experimental orchards and vineyards, greenhouses and tunnels and fully controlled environment climate chambers. A cornerstone of our activities is the close collaboration with farmers and the integration of field experiments on farm.

Our R&D experience and facilities were developed as part of the (a) Swiss government funded projects, (b) a range of projects funded by the European Union (e.g. Blight-MOP, QualityLowInputFood, REPCO, ORWINE, ForestSpecs, REBECA, Organicinputs, NUE-CROPS, HeathyMinorCereals, COBRA, CO-FREE, BIOCOMES, various COST actions), and (c) industry/charity funded R&D.

Selected projects