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 interprise, 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 agricutural practices are holistically assesed.


Recent Publications

  • Potential of indicators to unveil the hidden side of cropping system classification: Differences and similarities in cropping practices between conventional, no-till and organic systems
    Buchi, L; Georges, F; Walder, F; Banerjee, S; Keller, T; Six, J; van der Heijden, M; Charles, R
    EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF AGRONOMY, 109 10.1016/j.eja.2019.125920 SEP 2019
  • Attribution of N2O sources in a grassland soil with laser spectroscopy based isotopocule analysis
    Ibraim, E; Wolf, B; Harris, E; Gasche, R; Wei, J; Yu, LF; Kiese, R; Eggleston, S; Butterbach-Bahl, K; Zeeman, M; Tuzson, B; Emmenegger, L; Six, J; Henne, S; Mohn, J
    BIOGEOSCIENCES, 16 (16):3247-3266; 10.5194/bg-16-3247-2019 AUG 29 2019
  • Applying the Aboveground-Belowground Interaction Concept in Agriculture: Spatio-Temporal Scales Matter
    Veen, GF; Wubs, ERJ; Bardgett, RD; Barrios, E; Bradford, MA; Carvalho, S; De Deyn, GB; de Vries, FT; Giller, KE; Kleijn, D; Landis, DA; Rossing, WAH; Schrama, M; Six, J; Struik, PC; van Gils, S; Wiskerke, JSC; van der Putten, WH; Vet, LEM
    FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 7 10.3389/fevo.2019.00300 AUG 14 2019
  • Mobilization of aged and biolabile soil carbon by tropical deforestation
    Drake, TW; Van Oost, K; Barthel, M; Bauters, M; Hoyt, AM; Podgorski, DC; Six, J; Boeckx, P; Trumbore, SE; Ntaboba, LC; Spencer, RGM
    NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 12 (7):541-+; 10.1038/s41561-019-0384-9 JUL 2019
  • Nitrified Human Urine as a Sustainable and Socially Acceptable Fertilizer: An Analysis of Consumer Acceptance in Msunduzi, South Africa
    Wilde, BC; Lieberherr, E; Okem, AE; Six, J
    SUSTAINABILITY, 11 (9):10.3390/su11092456 MAY 1 2019
  • Distinct responses of soil fungal and bacterial nitrate immobilization to land conversion from forest to agriculture
    Li, XB; He, HB; Zhang, XD; Yan, XY; Six, J; Cai, ZC; Barthel, M; Zhang, JB; Necpalova, M; Ma, QQ; Li, ZA
    SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 134 81-89; 10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.03.023 JUL 2019
  • Long-term recovery of the functional community assembly and carbon pools in an African tropical forest succession
    Bauters, M; Vercleyen, O; Vanlauwe, B; Six, J; Bonyoma, B; Badjoko, H; Hubau, W; Hoyt, A; Boudin, M; Verbeeck, H; Boeckx, P
    BIOTROPICA, 51 (3):319-329; 10.1111/btp.12647 MAY 2019
  • Earthworm Lumbricus terrestris mediated redistribution of C and N into large macroaggregate-occluded soil fractions in fine-textured no-till soils
    Sheehy, J; Nuutinen, V; Six, J; Palojarvi, A; Knuutila, O; Kaseva, J; Regina, K
    APPLIED SOIL ECOLOGY, 140 26-34; 10.1016/j.apsoil.2019.04.004 AUG 2019
  • Grazing-related nitrous oxide emissions: from patch scale to field scale
    Voglmeier, K; Six, J; Jocher, M; Ammann, C
    BIOGEOSCIENCES, 16 (8):1685-1703; 10.5194/bg-16-1685-2019 APR 25 2019
  • Soil microhabitats mediate microbial response in organic reduced tillage cropping
    Puerta, VL; Pereira, EP; Huang, P; Wittwer, R; Six, J
    APPLIED SOIL ECOLOGY, 137 39-48; 10.1016/j.apsoil.2019.01.009 MAY 2019
  • On-farm study reveals positive relationship between gas transport capacity and organic carbon content in arable soil
    Colombi, T; Walder, F; Buchi, L; Sommer, M; Liu, KX; Six, J; van der Heijden, MGA; Charles, R; Keller, T
    SOIL, 5 (1):91-105; 10.5194/soil-5-91-2019 MAR 19 2019
  • Contrasting nitrogen fluxes in African tropical forests of the Congo Basin
    Bauters, M; Verbeeck, H; Rutting, T; Barthel, M; Mujinya, BB; Bamba, F; Bode, S; Boyemba, F; Bulonza, E; Carlsson, E; Eriksson, L; Makelele, I; Six, J; Ntaboba, LC; Boeckx, P
    ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 89 (1):10.1002/ecm.1342 FEB 2019
  • Conservation tillage and organic farming reduce soil erosion
    Seitz, S; Goebes, P; Puerta, VL; Pereira, EIP; Wittwer, R; Six, J; van der Heijden, MGA; Scholten, T
    AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, 39 (1):10.1007/s13593-018-0545-z FEB 2019
  • Early season N2O emissions under variable water management in rice systems: source-partitioning emissions using isotope ratios along a depth profile
    Verhoeven, E; Barthel, M; Yu, LF; Celi, L; Said-Pullicino, D; Sleutel, S; Lewicka-Szczebak, D; Six, J; Decock, C
    BIOGEOSCIENCES, 16 (2):383-408; 10.5194/bg-16-383-2019 JAN 24 2019
  • Resilience Assessment of Swiss Farming Systems: Piloting the SHARP-Tool in Vaud
    Diserens, F; Choptiany, JMH; Barjolle, D; Graeub, B; Durand, C; Six, J
    SUSTAINABILITY, 10 (12):10.3390/su10124435 DEC 2018
  • Social network to inform and prevent the spread of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease in Ghana
    Andres, C; Hoerler, R; Home, R; Joerin, J; Dzahini-Obiatey, HK; Ameyaw, GA; Domfeh, O; Blaser, WJ; Gattinger, A; Offei, SK; Six, J
    AGRONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, 38 (5):10.1007/s13593-018-0538-y OCT 2018
  • Mapping Crop Calendar Events and Phenology-Related Metrics at the Parcel Level by Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) of MODIS-NDVI Time-Series: A Case Study in Central California
    de Castro, AI; Six, J; Plant, RE; Pena, JM
    REMOTE SENSING, 10 (11):10.3390/rs10111745 NOV 2018
  • Isolating organic carbon fractions with varying turnover rates in temperate agricultural soils - A comprehensive method comparison
    Poeplau, C; Don, A; Six, J; Kaiser, M; Benbi, D; Chenu, C; Cotrufo, MF; Derrien, D; Gioacchini, P; Grand, S; Gregorich, E; Griepentrog, M; Gunina, A; Haddix, M; Kuzyakov, Y; Kuhnel, A; Macdonald, LM; Soong, J; Trigalet, S; Vermeire, ML; Rovira, P; van Wesemael, B; Wiesmeier, M; Yeasmin, S; Yevdokimov, I; Nieder, R
    SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 125 10-26; 10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.06.025 OCT 2018
  • Legacy effects of long-term nitrogen fertilizer application on the fate of nitrogen fertilizer inputs in continuous maize
    Poffenbarger, HJ; Sawyer, JE; Barker, DW; Olk, DC; Six, J; Castellano, MJ
    AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT, 265 544-555; 10.1016/j.agee.2018.07.005 OCT 1 2018
  • Potentials to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from Swiss agriculture
    Necpalova, M; Lee, J; Skinner, C; Buchi, L; Wittwer, R; Gattinger, A; van der Heijden, M; Mader, P; Charles, R; Berner, A; Mayer, J; Six, J
    AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT, 265 84-102; 10.1016/j.agee.2018.05.013 OCT 1 2018
  • Links among warming, carbon and microbial dynamics mediated by soil mineral weathering
    Doetterl, S; Berhe, AA; Arnold, C; Bode, S; Fiener, P; Finke, P; Fuchslueger, L; Griepentrog, M; Harden, JW; Nadeu, E; Schnecker, J; Six, J; Trumbore, S; Van Oost, K; Vogel, C; Boeckx, P
    NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 11 (8):589-+; 10.1038/s41561-018-0168-7 AUG 2018
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