Maize strip tillage [Switzerland]


technologies_1008 - Switzerland

Completeness: 69%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

Buddeke Giulietta

Geographisches Institut der Universität Bern -GIUB


land user:

Friederich Jürg

Landwirtschaftliches Lohnunternehmen Seelandzenturm Suberg


Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Jürg Friederich Lohnunternehmung - Switzerland
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Geographisches Institut-Universität Bern (GIUB) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Maize strip tillage is used for corn cultivation and the technology ensures that only those stripes are cultivated where seed is applied.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Maize strip tillageis a soil conservation method used in crop production. First of all the grass in the area needs to be prepared by splattering round-up some 3-10 days in advance. Then the actual maize strip tillage machine carves a stripe and the seed are inserted within this 30 cm strip. At the same time fertilizer is added on these cultivated stripes. Between those cultivated stripes the mulch-grass stripes (45cm) are unmechanised and protect the soil by increasing its stability. Due to these mulch-stripes the matrix of the soil is more complex and therefore the stability is better especially during the harvest in September. The interviewed farmer said it was cause of the improved soil structure that his tractors are not subside and compaction is also less likely to occur. Another advantage is the decreased risk of soil erosion when having more and heavy precipitation, as it is expected for next decades due to climate changes in Switzerland. Thanks to the SLM technology, water infiltration increases and organic matter as well which adds up to a promising growth period.
There are also clear economic advantages, by adopting the technology. In springtime only one working step is needed for seeding compared to the five steps needed with the traditional technique using a plough. Therefore the costs are finally lower with this technology and farmers can use the opportunity when having free labour to work part-time outside the farm. At first sight, the costs might seem higher when adopting this technology cause the farmer needs to hire a subtractor, in the end the costs are lower due to the lower labour input and the lower equipment costs. After having seen the advantages, the interviewed farmer said that the technology is usually maintained.
A high level of knowledge about the natural condition is needed when adopting this technology. On the one hand, the farmer must time the date for seeding adequately to the natural conditions, it needs some 4 days with no precipitation. Then on the other hand, the farmer has to apply Glyphosphat after the seeding in order to guarantee an optimal growth period for the corn. The timing to start seeding with this technology may be later cause corn is sensitive towards rival plants, low temperatures and humidity. These are some of the limits that the technology implies. If springtime is humid, the farmer should be allowed to use the traditional technique, regardless of the subsidies as indicated by the interviewed farmer. The canton of Bern is providing subsidies if the farmer commits to use a five year cycle which inherits not to use the plough during this period but using a mulch system. The interviewed farmer suggests that the canton of Bern could commit itself not only in giving subsidies to the areas but also to support if contractors like him would get subsidies for the investment for machines that are needed. For a single farmer the establishment costs for the equipment are too high so that the average is hiring a contractor who could work for a lower salary when having support to buy machines, so subsidies from the Cantons would be an asset.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:


Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 0.1-1 km2

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Peter Hofer made different experiments wiht SLM Technologies and after successful implementation of maize strip tillage, idea was adopted

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - maize
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 150Longest growing period from month to month: Apr - Sep


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Soil erosion in hilly areas

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Due to changed weather conditions, basically an increase of percipitation, soil erosion increased

Future (final) land use (after implementation of SLM Technology): Cropland: Ca: Annual cropping

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • minimal soil disturbance
  • cross-slope measure

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover

Main measures: agronomic measures

Type of agronomic measures: cover cropping, retaining more vegetation cover, mulching, manure / compost / residues, rotations / fallows, minimum tillage

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Wg: gully erosion / gullying, Pc: compaction, Bc: reduction of vegetation cover

Main causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (using a plough in hilly area increases soil erosion)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

Main goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

Secondary goals: prevention of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: improvement of ground cover

Secondary technical functions: improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), increase in organic matter, increase of infiltration

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):

Swiss Franc

If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Buy a machine for technology

Number of parties sharing: 2

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour applying round-up ha 1.0 97.0 97.0 100.0
Labour maize strip tillage ha 1.0 388.0 388.0 100.0
Equipment Tools ha 1.0 56300.0 56300.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 56785.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 52578.7

Duration of establishment phase: 2 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Applying round up on the field 1
2. Applying maize strip tillage 1
3. Add herbicide on field 1
4. Harvest of the corn 1

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


Establishment costs are estimated for the contractor on the one hand and labour costs indicated above are the ones that the contractor is demanding for if he is hired. Additionally, those farmers who adapt this technology can get subsidies from the Canton if he/she commits to apply soil conservating measurements during 5 years, in Bern it is 450 CHF per ha.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour costs and costs for diesel are much higher for the traditional technology (plough). The investment for the technology are high in the first term and the labour costs indicated above are given by the contractor if he is hired. So for a regular farmer only these 388 USD are relevant.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

Tendency towards increased rainfall

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: temperate

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitudinal zone: 101-1000 m a.s.l. (depending on the area)

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility is medium
Soil drainage/infiltration is good
Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Availability of surface water: good, medium ( depending on the area )
Water quality (untreated): Good drinking water ( generally good quality of water )

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

depending on the area

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Difference in the involvement of women and men: Generally speaking, men tend to work on the fields therefore are mainly responsible for technologies, women tend to work in the houshold and are responsible for administrative tasks. In Switzerland there is a traditional labour division between men and women, there might be exceptions but if addressing new technology one has to deal with male farmers. Assuming that decisions to adapt new technologies or for investments are made by both.

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2

Annual population growth: < 0.5%

Off-farm income specification: For those farmers working off-farm it is likely to delegate work to contractor. On the other hand when hiring a contractor there is less labour needed for the farmer and the possibility to work off-farm slightly higher.

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

Half of the land is leased and the other was bought by the farmer. He said there is a tendency towards land selling.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Conditions need to be good, if season too wet, harvest can decrease

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs



Other socio-economic impacts

Use of pesticides

Comments/ specify:

Consequences of using pesticide are not known yet, traces in drinking water might be likely to occure

Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge


conflict mitigation


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff


soil loss


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

invasive alien species

Comments/ specify:

More crows are on the fields after seeding

pest/ disease control

Other ecological impacts



6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm not known
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not known

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period not well

With the grass stripes between the corn rows, the water can infiltrate faster and the soil is more stable and protected. The technology can be more tolerant towards intensive rainfalls but only to a certain extent. The technology is more sensitive when having humid conditions in spring and problems can occure then when trying to apply the stripe mill cropping..

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology


35% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

Comments on acceptance with external material support: When having good experiences with technology, some 80-90% of the farmers are maintaining this technology

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
less workload

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Farmers should estimate their own labour time as well and then compare the costs of traditional technology and the SLM technology
less costs

How can they be sustained / enhanced? In the long-term costs for a farmer decrease by a third. Less diesel costs are needed.
less erosion

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Subsidies of the cantons could ensure that farmers adapt technology, therefore enhance their knowledge about soil erosion and the costs.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
reduction of soil erosion

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Enhancing knowledge about soil erosion
improvement of soil structure

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Enhancing knowledge by experiments shown to farmers

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Timing is needed Enhance knowledge about technology when conditions are too wet, farmers should be allowed to use plough instead of SLM technology
Subsidies only for areas Canton could subsidies/support if contractor or farmer invests in a machine used for strip mill cropping. 5 years of subsidies might be too short
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
use of pesticide It is not estimated yet whether the use of pesticide has traces in the drinking water

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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