Permanent crops and arable land

Besides livestock breeding, South Tyrol’s food production is based on the cultivation of field crops, fruit and wine. Fruit and wine cultivation characterises the lower parts of the valley and side slopes in the Adige and Isarco valleys. In higher-lying valley areas, on the other hand, vegetables or cereals are more commonly grown.
All these forms of cultivation also produce very specific habitats and possess a characteristic spectrum of animal and plant species. Over the last fifty years, there have been major changes in the way they are managed. As a result, our knowledge of the current flora and fauna of these habitats is generally poor.
At the same time, perennial crops in particular are often the subject of intensive discussions with regard to their ecological sustainability.
With Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol we therefore included a broad range of sites representing areas for apple, wine and field crop production.

Vineyards
Apple orchards
Crop fields

Vineyards

Vineyards are restricted to the warmest parts of South Tyrol, namely to the Adige Valley between Merano and Salorno and to the warmest areas of the Valle Isarco and Venosta Valley. Since wine growing has a special demand for warmth, vineyards are also home to many thermophilous species. Mostly south-facing slopes are preferred for the cultivation of wine. Often there is a distinct landscape relief here created by nature. A total of twenty areas are being investigated at the BMS, ten of them on flat ground and ten on slopes.

Grapevine

Landscape in the lower Eisack Valley characterized by vineyards (photo: A. Hilpold)

Vineyard next to Kurtatsch/Cortaccia

Vineyard in Tschötsch/Scezze, Eisack Valley

Apple orchards

Apples have become the most important agricultural product in South Tyrol in terms of financial turnover. The South Tyrolean apple has long enjoyed a great reputation. Accordingly, their area of production was massively expanded in the 20th century. At the same time, there were also big changes in the way of production: The former orchards were replaced by modern facilities with small trees.
Currently, apple cultivation covers a large part of the valley bottoms in the Adige and Isarco valleys. However, our knowledge of the flora and fauna of apple plantations is still very limited. With the Biodiversity Monitoring, we are investigating a total of 20 areas, ten of which are organic and ten are integrated. Here, a number of additional management parameters are also being surveyed.

Apple orchards in the Vinschgau/Venosta Valley, next to Kortsch/Corces

Lady bug on apple leave

Organic apple orchard next to Tisens/Tesimo

Branch of an apple tree before the harvest

Crop fields

The cultivation of grain and other field crops has a long tradition in South Tyrol. In the 20th century, the cultivation of cereals almost came to a complete standstill. Potatoes, on the other hand, are still cultivated mainly in the eastern half of the country. Other vegetable fields are scattered throughout the country. For livestock breeding, however, silage maize is often used. With the Biodiversity Monitoring, we are investigating a total of 20 sites of arable land, ten of which are maize fields, ten of which are cereal and vegetables fields.

Rye field with cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) next to Gais (Pustertal/Puster Valley)

Rye field next to Gais (Pustertal/Puster Valley)

Barley field, Pustertal/Puster Valley

Maize field

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