The canton of Grisons
The canton of Grisons ? the southeast part of Switzerland ? is the biggest of the 26 cantons of Switzerland. It covers 17 % of the Swiss territory, but a large part of it is unproductive (41 %). Further more one quarter are forests and bushes (27 %) and an other quarter are high Alpine pastures (24 %), mostly between 1?600 and 2?500 altitude without permanent settlement. These pastures can not been considered as ordinary usable agricultural area, because of the climate. Nevertheless, this area is equipped with temporarly used infrastructure for agricuture (huts, cow barns) and tourism (restaurants, mountains shelters, cable cars).
The permanently settled and populated area of the Grisons represents only about 8 % of the territory. It is used by agriculture (6 % usable agricultural area) and covered by settlements (2 %). The average settlemend is scareced, 187?800 inhabitants (2005) live in the Grisons (26 inhab./ km 2). But the real density is much higher: on the permanently settled area live 337 inhabitants /km 2.
The capital of the Grisons is Chur, the oldest town of Switzerland. The most famous places are Davos and St. Moritz. The so called county of the 100 valleys (in fact there are even more!) is the water shed between the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Atlantic. It has many famous mountains. Cable cars facilitate skiing and enjoying the view from the mountains. The most famous tourist product is the Glacier Express from the Rhaetian Railroad RhB relating St. Moritz / Davos / Chur with Zermatt in the Valais. A long part of its track is candidate for UNESCO world cultural heritage.
The Agriculture in the Canton of Grisons (2005)
The canton of Grisons counts 2?932 farms, about 20 % of the enterprises. 71 % are full time farms. On these farms are 7?369 persons employed (about 10 %), 2,5 persons per farm. 40 % of them do a fulltime job. The average size of the farms is 18,27 ha (more than Swiss average) with 17,74 livestock units (less than Swiss average). Due to the hostile topography the mechanisation of agriculture is difficult, economies of scale are limited and the farms can not become too big. The high altitude of most of the land puts strict limits to a sustainable intensification, too.
The total usable agricultural area, 6 % of the area in the Grisons, is 53?573 ha. The green land covers 95 %, the crops 3 % and vineyards and orchards 2% of the usable arable area. The live?stock is dominated by cattle (82 %), followed by sheep (12 %), horses (3 %) and goats (3 %).
The number of farms decreased considerably: ? 7,7 % in the years 2001 ? 2005. The livestock decreased with ? 3,5 %. Particularly struck are the sheep with ? 4,7 %. The usable arable land increased in the same time + 1,3 %. The farms have undergone a light extensification: the density was reduced from 1 livestock unit per 0,98 ha to 1 livestock unit per 1,03 ha. This is the result of the measures taken in the Swiss agricultural policy.
Portrait of the Summer Pastures in the Canton of Grisons (2005)
Table 1: The Enterprises Practicing Summer Pastures
The size of enterprises practicing summer pasture varies very much. The very small ones repre?sent 15 % of the number but only 1,5 % of the summer pasture units, while the big ones with sharp 20 % of the number unite almost half of the potential fodder of the high Alpine pastures. The small ones in majority are private owned and managed in contrary to the medium and big ones, owned in majority by the municipalities and managed by cooperatives.
Table 2: Animals on Summer Pasture
The cattle is the most important animal for the summer pastures. Traditionally many heads are brought from the Swiss lowlands up to the Grisons. Very important, too, is the small livestock, in particular the sheep. They can still graze places, where the cattle can not go, but they are often ecologically very sensible. The management of the herds need to be very good. The summer pastures can feed on an average one livestock unit per summer pasture unit.
Table 3: Milk Production and Processing (only enterprises > 10 milked animals)
Out of the large variety of seasonal milk products, the project deals with ?B?ndner Alpk?se?.