ServiceGrass is a project coordinated by Dr. Valentin Klaus, from USYS (Grassland Group), ETH Zurich. Partners from ETH, Agroscope, University of Bern collaborate to study the effects of organic farming on private and public ecosystem services and grassland multifunctionality, in a Swiss canton.
Ecosystem services are the basis to secure human well-being. Grassland is known to potentially deliver an outstandingly high number of different ecosystem services to society. Sustainable agriculture must deliver not only private ecosystem services such as market goods but also many public ecosystem services, i.e. non-market goods and services such as recreation and carbon storage. Agricultural intensification usually increases private ecosystem services but impairs the delivery of many public services. As organic farming has the potential to decrease negative environmental impacts of intensive food and feed production, it might therefore be able to sustain the provision of both private and public ecosystem services. However, this has never been comprehensively assessed for grasslands, although these constitute the largest share of organically managed land in Switzerland but also worldwide.
Project aims and expected results
The overall aim of the project is to assess and explain effects of organic grassland farming on several ecosystem services and their simultaneous provisioning, i.e. ecosystem service multifunctionality. Therefore, we will measure and compare the ability of Swiss organic and conventional grasslands to deliver different ecosystem services in relation to plot-scale grassland management. We also aim at upscaling the impact of grassland management on ecosystem services from plots to entire farms by using the Swiss Farm Accountancy Data Network. Using this database will also enable us to assess the economic dimensions of ecosystem services delivery by the two farming systems. Outcomes of the project will reveal strengths and weaknesses of organic and conventional farming in delivering private and public ecosystem services and help to improve grassland farming for a sustainable future. Results will be communicated to different stakeholder groups and society by a many different of outreach activities.