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This project, funded by Gebert Rüf Stiftung, is supported by the following project partners: Agroscope; BBZ Arenenberg; Mycorrhizal Applications SA


  • Projekt-Nr: GRS-088/20 
  • Förderbeitrag: CHF 285'000 
  • Bewilligung: 29.10.2020 
  • Dauer: 03.2021 - 04.2024 
  • Handlungsfeld:  Microbials, seit 2016



In the face of enormous global challenges, the sustainability of agricultural production needs to be enhanced and fertiliser and pesticide use be reduced. A range of studies have shown that micro-organisms in soil can have a big impact on plant health and thus can contribute to sustainable agricultural production. However, how to employ soil microbial communities in a targeted way to provide agricultural benefits it is still poorly understood. This project tested new and innovative microbial consortia for enhanced sustainability of cropping systems.

Was ist das Besondere an diesem Projekt?

This project uses new scientific concepts, such as keystone-taxa theory, communities of microorganisms complementing each other for maximum effects on ecosystem functioning, to design microbial consortia. Strategies for implementing the benefits of microbes into agricultural practice are currently developed in a participatory approach together with farmers and commercial producers of biological inoculants. Therefore, this project represents a unique combination of latest scientific research developments and agricultural application, directly linking basic research with practice.


This project aimed at developing reliable microbial inoculants that contribute to crop production and reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticide applications. In a range of greenhouse experiments, combinations of field microbial communities, as well as of different cultured microbial taxa with reported beneficial traits have been tested for their effects on crop production. We tested the effects of one particular AMF in the field and observed growth increases up to 40% (Lutz et al. 2023). Subsequent studies in a further year confirmed this and the inoculated AMF established at over 80% of the inoculated fields, which shows it is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions (Valzano-Held unpublished). We also tested the effects of AMF in combination with various other microbial formulations, specifically a range of bacterial strains, but we did not observe additional yield increases with the methods tested. In cooperation with an industry partner, novel inoculum formulations of the AMF strain are currently being developed that allow efficient application of the inoculum by practitioners in the field. Formulations have been tested for their effectivity in the greenhouse and a field trial testing the new formulations under applied conditions will be performed this year. Through these activities, an application strategy will be developed that allows to integrate the benefits and interactive effects of different microbial taxa and already existing beneficials into management operations of farmers in a convenient and cost-efficient way. Additional funding could be generated through an Implementation grant from the Swiss National Science foundation to drive further large-scale field testing and to implement developed products in practice in the coming years.


Lutz, S., et al., Soil microbiome indicators can predict crop growth response to large-scale inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Nature microbiology, 2023. 8(12): p. 2277-2289;
Salomon, M., Bender, S.F., Cavagnaro, T., Van der Heijden, M.G.A., 2022. Biofertilizers: assessing the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on soil health, pp. 347-376;
Fehr, M., Bender, F. & Lutz, M.: Mehr Gemüseertrag durch Mykorrhiza. Der Gemüsebau, 2 (2021), 41;
Stefanie Lutz, Natacha Bodenhausen, Franz Bender, Klaus Schläppi, Marcel van der Heijden (2024). UFA-Revue, (1), 10-13. «Das Gute kommt von unten» (https://www.ufarevue.ch/pflanzenbau/das-gute-kommt-von-unten);
Stefanie Lutz, Natacha Bodenhausen, Klaus Schläppi, Marcel van der Heijden (2024). Landwirtschaft ohne Pflug - -LUMBRICO, Ausgabe 17. «Mykorrhiza: Lohnt sich eine Impfung?»
Stefanie Lutz, Natacha Bodenhausen, Franz Bender, Klaus Schläppi, Marcel van der Heijden (2024). Der Pflanzenarzt, Ausgabe 1-2. «Mykorrhizapilze für einen gesunden Boden - Nützlinge nutzbar machen»


Am Projekt beteiligte Personen

Dr. Franz Bender, Agroscope & University of Zurich, project leader
Prof. Dr. Marcel van der Heijden, Agroscope & University of Zurich
Dr. Ido Rog, Agroscope & University of Zurich
Raphaël Wittwer, Agroscope
Philippe Trautzl, BBZ, Arenenberg
Alain Held, Agroscope

Letzte Aktualisierung dieser Projektdarstellung  21.05.2024