Land use model: Model for land use on the Swiss Central Plateau (Mittelland)

Information on Swiss soils is of importance for the assessment of sustainable soil use. Based on remote sensing data, we developed land use monitoring systems for Swiss agroecosystems, its temporal dynamics and grassland intensity in high temporal and spatial resolution.

  • Background (completed research project)

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    Sustainable management of agricultural soils involves balanced nutrient and pollutant cycles. Despite the establishement of environmental measures in Swiss agriculture in the mid-1990s, it has not been possible to meet the national targets for reducing fertilizers such as nitrogen and phosphorus. A regional land managenemt model has been developed in the NRP 68-project "Early warning System" to produce spatially explicit information on land management and its impacts on chemical cycles in the soil. However, the application of the model on a national scale, requires extensive information on land use, its dynamics and intensity of grassland management.

  • Aim

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    The project addressed the following key question: How can detailed information on land use, its dynamics and grassland intensity be derived on a national scale using remote sensing data?

  • Results

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    The project team developed a monitoring system based on remote sensing data to map annual grassland and cropland distributions, as well as long-term land use dynamics. A further monitoring model spatially identifies annual grassland management with respect to mowing and grazing intensity. Both monitoring systems are based on satellite imagery from the Landsat archive, support a spatial resolution of 30m x 30m, and target the Swiss agroecosystems on a national scale. Thanks to the consistent and ongoing operationality of the Landsat programme, both land use monitoring systems can deliver annual information starting from the year 1978 until today.

  • Importance for research

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    The generated maps are very valuable for a wide scope of environmental models of agricultural soils, e.g. organic matter, biodiversity, nutrient and pollutants cycles, soil erosion and compaction.

  • Practical significance

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    The developed land use monitoring models are valuable tools to support decision-making and to identify suitable measures in context of sustainable land and soil management.

  • Original title

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    Development of a spatially distributed land management model for the Mittelland linking agricultural management to soil services and policies