Elucidating and promoting sustainable agriculture across the world

Sustainable Agroecosystems

In order to understand sustainable agriculture and implement it, we need to elucidate the feedbacks between ecosystem management options (e.g., tillage, cover cropping, green manuring, sustainable farming, and grazing), global change (e.g., elevated CO2 and climate change), and biogeochemical cycling.

Hence, we need to unravel the complex interactions between plants (e.g., diversity, nutrient uptake, and root growth), soil (e.g, structure, texture and mineralogy), soil biota (e.g. fungi, bacteria, and earthworms), and the carbon and nitrogen cycles in agroecosystems across spatial and temporal scales. Furthermore, since agriculture is an human enterprise, not only biophysical aspects, but also social and economic dimensions of sustainable agriculture needed to be elucidated. One approach to do so is bio-economic modeling through which the sustainability of agricultural practices are holistically assessed.


Recent Publications

  • Stable isotope signatures of soil nitrogen on an environmental-geomorphic gradient within the Congo Basin
    Baumgartner, Simon; Bauters, Marijn; Barthel, Matti; Drake, Travis W.; Ntaboba, Landry C.; et al.
    Soil  10.5194/soil-7-83-2021 Published: MAR 30 2021
  • Global carbon dioxide efflux from rivers enhanced by high nocturnal emissions
    Gomez-Gener, Lluis; Rocher-Ros, Gerard; Battin, Tom; Cohen, Matthew J.; Dalmagro, Higo J.; et al.
    Nature Geoscience 10.1038/s41561-021-00722-3  Early Access: APR 2021
  • Immobilization and stabilization of volcanic ash in soil aggregates in semiarid meadows of Northern Patagonia
    Soledad Enriquez, Andrea; Necpalova, Magdalena; Victoria Cremona, Maria; Luis Peri, Pablo; Six, Johan
    Geoderma, 10.1016/j.geoderma.2021.114987 JUN 15 2021
  • Spatial and temporal variations of greenhouse gas emissions from a waste stabilization pond: Effects of sludge distribution and accumulation
    Ho, Long; Jerves-Cobo, Ruben; Morales, Oscar; Larriva, Josue; Arevalo-Durazno, Maria; et al.
    Water Research, 10.1016/j.watres.2021.116858  APR 1 2021
  • Spatial and seasonal patterns of rainfall erosivity in the Lake Kivu region: Insights from a meteorological observatory network
    Bagalwa, R. M.; Chartin, C.; Baumgartner, S.; Mercier, S.; Syauswa, M.; et al.
    Progress In Physical Geography-earth And Environment, 10.1177/03091333211001793   MAR 2021
  • Mechanisms influencing physically sequestered soil carbon in temperate restored grasslands in South Africa and North America
    Scott, Drew A.; Bach, Elizabeth M.; Du Preez, Chris C.; Six, Johan; Baer, Sara G.
    Biogeochemistry, 10.1007/s10533-021-00774-y  MAR 2021
  • On-farm assessment of cassava root yield response to tillage, plant density, weed control and fertilizer application in southwestern Nigeria
    Onasanya, Olabisi Omolara; Hauser, Stefan; Necpalova, Magdalena; Salako, Felix Kolawole; Kreye, Christine; et al.
    Field Crops Research, 10.1016/j.fcr.2020.108038  MAR 1 2021
  • Soil fertility maintenance with organic amendments to orange fleshed sweetpotato
    Conz, Rafaela Feola; Six, Johan; Andrade, Maria Isabel; Pereira, Engil Isadora Pujol
    Nutrient Cycling In Agroecosystems, 10.1007/s10705-020-10111-8  MAR 2021
  • Soil Nutrient Depletion and Tree Functional Composition Shift Following Repeated Clearing in Secondary Forests of the Congo Basin
    Bauters, Marijn; Moonen, Pieter; Summerauer, Laura; Doetterl, Sebastian; Wasner, Daniel; et al.
    Ecosystems,  10.1007/s10021-020-00593-6  JAN 2021
  • Seasonality, drivers, and isotopic composition of soil CO2 fluxes from tropical forests of the Congo Basin
    Baumgartner, Simon; Barthel, Matti; Drake, Travis William; Bauters, Marijn; Makelele, Isaac Ahanamungu; et al.
    Biogeosciences, 10.5194/bg-17-6207-2020  DEC 9 2020
  • Combining organic and mineral fertilizers as a climate-smart integrated soil fertility management practice in sub-Saharan Africa: A meta-analysis
    Gram, Gil; Roobroeck, Dries; Pypers, Pieter; Six, Johan; Merckx, Roel; et al.
    Plos One   DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239552  SEP 24 2020
  • Reduction of nitrogen pollution in agriculture through nitrogen surplus quotas: an analysis of individual marginal abatement cost and different quota allocation schemes using an agent-based model
    Schmidt, Alena; Mack, Gabriele; Mann, Stefan; Six, Johan
    Journal Of Environmental Planning And Management  DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2020.1823344  NOV 2020
  • Linking soil engineers, structural stability, and organic matter allocation to unravel soil carbon responses to land-use change
    Franco, Andre L. C.; Cherubin, Mauricio R.; Cerri, Carlos E. P.; Six, Johan; Wall, Diana H.; et al.
    Soil Biology & Biochemistry  DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.107998 Published: NOV 2020
  • Du Feu a l'Eau: Source and Flux of Dissolved Black Carbon From the Congo River
    Drake, Travis W.; Wagner, Sasha; Stubbins, Aron; Wabakanghanzi, Jose N.; Dinga, Jean Bienvenu; et al.
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles   DOI: 10.1029/2020GB006560  Published: AUG 2020
  • Soil fertility and Theobroma cacao growth and productivity under commonly intercropped shade-tree species in Sulawesi, Indonesia
    Wartenberg, Ariani C.; Blaser, Wilma J.; Roshetko, James M.; Van Noordwijk, Meine; Six, Johan
    Plant And Soil  DOI: 10.1007/s11104-018-03921-x  Published: AUG 2020
  • What can we learn from N2O isotope data? - Analytics, processes and modelling
    Yu, Longfei; Harris, Eliza; Lewicka-Szczebak, Dominika; Barthel, Matti; Blomberg, Margareta R. A.; et al.
    Rapid Communications In Mass Spectrometry  DOI: 10.1002/rcm.8858  Published: OCT 30 2020
  • Control of Fusarium graminearum in Wheat With Mustard-Based Botanicals: From in vitro to in planta
    Drakopoulos, Dimitrios; Meca, Giuseppe; Torrijos, Raquel; Marty, Anja; Kaegi, Andreas; et al.
    Frontiers In Microbiology  DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01595  Published: JUL 21 2020
  • Denitrification Is the Main Nitrous Oxide Source Process in Grassland Soils According to Quasi-Continuous Isotopocule Analysis and Biogeochemical Modeling
    Ibraim, Erkan; Denk, Tobias; Wolf, Benjamin; Barthel, Matti; Gasche, Rainer; et al.
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles  DOI: 10.1029/2019GB006505 Published: JUN 2020
  • The soil organic carbon stabilization potential of old and new wheat cultivars: a (CO2)-C-13-labeling study
    Van de Broek, Marijn; Ghiasi, Shiva; Decock, Charlotte; Hund, Andreas; Abiven, Samuel; et al.
    Biogeosciences  DOI: 10.5194/bg-17-2971-2020 Published: JUN 11 2020
  • Simulation of a regional soil nitrogen balance in Swiss croplands
    Lee, Juhwan; Necpalova, Magdalena; Calitri, Francesca; Six, Johan
    Nutrient Cycling In Agroecosystems  DOI: 10.1007/s10705-020-10078-6 Published: SEP 2020
  • A Transdisciplinary Approach for the Development of Sustainable Yam (Dioscorea sp.) Production in West Africa
    Kiba, Delwende Innocent; Hgaza, Valerie Kouame; Aighewi, Beatrice; Ake, Severin; Barjolle, Dominique; et al.
    Sustainability  DOI: 10.3390/su12104016 Published: MAY 2020
  • N2O isotopocule measurements using laser spectroscopy: analyzer characterization and intercomparison
    Harris, Stephen J.; Liisberg, Jesper; Xia, Longlong; Wei, Jing; Zeyer, Kerstin; et al.
    Atmospheric Measurement Techniques   DOI: 10.5194/amt-13-2797-2020  Published: MAY 28 2020
  • Biophysical potential of organic cropping practices as a sustainable alternative in Switzerland
    Lee, Juhwan; Necpalova, Magdalena; Six, Johan
    Agricultural Systems ‏ 181  DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102822  MAY 2020
  • Soil greenhouse gas budget of two intensively managed grazing systems
    Voglmeier, Karl; Six, Johan; Jocher, Markus; Ammann, Christof
    Agricultural and Forest Metereology ‏ 287DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2020.107960 ‏ JUN 15 2020
  • Nutrient flows and intensification options for smallholder farmers of the Lao uplands
    Epper, CA; Paul, B; Burra, D; Phengsavanh P; Ritzema R; Syfongxay C; Groot JCJ; Six J; Frossard E; Oberson A; Douxchamps S
    Agricultural Systems ‏ 177  DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2019.102694   ‏ JAN 2020
  • Differential effects of wetting and drying on soil CO2 concentration and flux in near-surface vs. deep soil layers
    Min, Kyungjin; Berhe, Asmeret Asefaw; Khoi, Chau Minh; van Asperen, Hella; Gillabel, Jeroen; et al.
    Biogeochemistry  DOI: 10.1007/s10533-020-00658-7, APR 2020
  • Whole-profile soil organic matter content, composition, and stability under cropping systems that differ in belowground inputs
    Poffenbarger, Hanna J.; Olk, Daniel C.; Cambardella, Cynthia; Kersey, Jordan; Liebman, Matt; et al.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 291 Article Number: UNSP 106810 DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.106810 APR 1 2020
  • Land-use controls on carbon biogeochemistry in lowland streams of the Congo Basin
    Drake, Travis W.; Podgorski, David C.; Dinga, Bienvenu; Chanton, Jeffrey P.; Six, Johan; et al.
    Global Change Biology 26(3): 1374-1389 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14889 MAR 2020
  • Prevention of Fusarium head blight infection and mycotoxins in wheat with cut-and-carry biofumigation and botanicals
    Drakopoulos, Dimitrios; Kagi, Andreas; Gimeno, Alejandro; Six, Johan; Jenny, Eveline; et al.
    Field Crops Research,  DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2019.107681, Published: FEB 1 2020
Johan Six

Prof. Dr. Johan Six
ETH Zurich
Institute of Agricultural Sciences
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 84 83

Research topics

  • Sustainable agriculture across the world
  • Carbon cycling in terrestrial and aquatic systems
  • Soil fertility management
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
  • Global change effects terrestrial ecosystem functioning
  • Bioeconomic modeling


  • Soil microbiology
  • Economic and social aspects of sustainable agriculture
  • Plant-soil interactions
  • Nutrient use efficiency