Agricultural covers an area of 14.817 km2 in Switzerland (35.9% of the whole country). The largest part of this area is thereby used for fodder production in connection with livestock farming, where Switzerland reaches a very high degree of self-sufficiency (100%). On the downside, livestock farming contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. Transformation towards a more climate-smart Swiss food system may imply an increase in the share of food crops for regional consumers. To achieve this, farmers would have to extend their portfolios of food crops for cultivation – ideally on the basis of crops that are well-adapted to changing climate conditions and have high nutritional value.
The aim of this study was thus to evaluate possible alternative crops (1) with regard to their climatic suitability for cultivation at selected sites across the agricultural zones of Switzerland, and (2) with regard to their nutritional values. These evaluations were based on FAO’s ecocrop model in combination with several food composition databases. Results indicate persisting and even increasing climatic yield potential for 2-86 alternative crops, depending on local climate conditions. The results of this study can provide an important decision-basis for innovative farmers willing to experiment with alternative crops, thus initiating developments towards a climate-smart transformation of the Swiss food system.