Past projects

Institute of Natural Resource Sciences

The selection of projects described below highlights the breadth of research carried out at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences.

Sustainable floodplain management and hydropower

Video of the experimental flood event
Experimental flood in the Saane | Photo: Research Group for Ecohydrology
Experimental flood in the Saane | Photo: Research Group for Ecohydrology

How can hydropower be made more environmentally friendly? As part of this project an experimental flood event has taken place in the Saane. Researchers are now analysing all the data and records that have been collected. The project, which is a joint undertaking by ZHAW, EPFL and Eawag, is part of the “Energy Turnaround” National Research Programme (NRP 70).

Project partners: EPFL, Eawag
Duration: 2015-2018 
Research group: Ecohydrology
Further Information: National Research Programme (NRP) 70

Optimised irrigation

Irrigation monitoring in Berne’s Seeland | Photo: Luzius Matile
Irrigation monitoring in Berne’s Seeland | Photo: Luzius Matile

Optimised sensor-based irrigation control helps to protect water resources and reduce nutrient leaching and pesticide run-off. This project is aimed at carrying out a scientific comparison between these new technologies and the optimisation methods currently in use to demonstrate the potential for reducing water consumption and leaching/run-off and the impact on plant health and efficiency.

Project partner: Agroscope, PlantCare AG, Russikon
Client: BAFU
Duration: 2013-2015
Research group: Soil ecology

Microorganisms as a protective shield for plant roots

Wirewurm larva infected with an insect-pathogenic fungus | Photo: J. Razinger
Wirewurm larva infected with an insect-pathogenic fungus | Photo: J. Razinger

Biological control measures are increasingly being used to protect agricultural crops and require improved understanding of the interactions between plants, microorganisms and pests. The aim of this project is to demonstrate that a biofilm of fungal strains and microorganisms can protect plant roots against insects, while at the same time helping to establish selected fungal strains in crop rhizospheres.

Project partner: Research institutes in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Agroscope Schweiz, cantones GR, UR and business partners
Duration: 2015-2018
Research group: Phytomedicine

Grasslands

Grasslands, Campus Grüental | Photo: Erich Stutz
Grasslands, Campus Grüental | Photo: Erich Stutz

The grassland area in ZHAW’s Wädenswil-based gardens highlights the key role played by grasses in our society and the problems we face in terms of securing sustainable supplies of food and raw materials for a growing population. In order to promote dialogue between science and the public, visitors are presented with surprising facts and comparisons and encouraged to question, discuss and investigate what they see.

Project partner: Mercator Foundation, various IUNR research groups
Client: Institute of Natural Resource Sciences
Duration: 2013-2023
Research area: Education and communication

Landscape quality and tourism

Bernina-Pass | Photo: Stefanie Jakob
Bernina-Pass | Photo: Stefanie Jakob

Landscape quality is a vitally important factor for tourism, and this project is aimed at developing tools that can be used to inform the tourist industry and the public about the usefulness of landscapes and existing landscape elements. Once this value has been consciously recognised, it can be leveraged by tourism operators in the form of new services and products.

Client: Graubünden Tourism Quality Programme
Duration: August 2014 - July 2016
Research area: Landscape and tourism

CTI project GREENCITY SWITZERLAND – a label for sustainable urban green spaces

Winterthur city park | Photo: Martin Götsch
Winterthur city park | Photo: Martin Götsch

Increasing levels of urbanisation mean that urban green spaces are subject to growing ecological and social demands. This project involves the development of a GREENCITY SWITZERLAND label to highlight the efforts of cities and communities which have planned, built and continue to manage sustainable urban green spaces and wish to make known their achievements in the public and political arena.

Project partner: VSSG, Nateco, FiBL, Bioterra, City Gardens of Lucerne, Basel and Winterthur
Client: Cooperation project, co-funded by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI)
Duration: 2013-2015
Research group: Open space management 
More information: Project website