An economic assessment of drought effects on three grassland systems in Switzerland. Regional Environmental Change

R. Finger, A. Gilgen, U. Prechsl, N. Buchmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes the economic impacts of summer drought on Swiss grassland production. We combine field trial data from drought experiments in three different grasslands in Switzerland with site-specific information on economic costs and benefits. The analysis focuses on the economic implications of drought effects on grassland yields as well as grassland composition. In agreement with earlier studies, we found rather heterogeneous yield effects of drought on Swiss grassland systems, with significantly reduced yields as a response to drought at the lowland and sub-alpine sites, but increased yields at the wetter pre-alpine site. Relative yield losses were highest at the sub-alpine site (with annual yield losses of up to 37 %). However, because income from grassland production at extensive sites relies to a large extent on ecological direct payments, even large yield losses had only limited implications in terms of relative profit reductions. In contrast, negative drought impacts at the most productive, intensively managed lowland site were dominant, with average annual drought-induced profit margin reductions of about 28 %. This is furthermore emphasized if analyzing the farm level perspective of drought impacts. Combining site-specific effects at the farm level, we found that in particular farms with high shares of lowland grassland sites suffer from summer droughts in terms of farm-level fodder production and profit margins. Moreover, our results showed that the higher competitiveness of weeds (broad-leaved dock) under drought conditions will require increasing attention on weed control measures in future grassland production systems. Taking into account that the risk of drought occurrence is expected to increase in the coming years, additional instruments to cope with drought risks in fodder production and finally farmers’ income have to be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-374
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • climate-change
  • land-use
  • temperate grasslands
  • nutritive-value
  • co2 enrichment
  • summer drought
  • white clover
  • europe
  • productivity
  • simulations

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An economic assessment of drought effects on three grassland systems in Switzerland. Regional Environmental Change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this