South Tyrol

SouthTyrolGeneral information

Name of region Bolzano-Bozen
Global Environmental Zone(s) (Metzger)  
Population density (persons per km2)  74.41
Contact (general) Christian Hoffmann
Contact (ag. scenarios) Christian Hoffmann
Location (NUTS code) ITD10
Dominant regional farming system(s)
(SEAMLESS nomenclature)
 arable/cereal and mixed farming
The three most important
farming systems in region

(SEAMLESS nomenclature)
  • dairy cattle-permanent grass
  • permanent crops
Main crop species  apples (Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Gala, Jonagold)
Main livestock species  cattle (Swiss-Brown/Jersey, Simmental, Holstein)

Regional development goal in rural spatial planning

Specific issues the region deals with/will deal with

  1. The Autonomous Province of Bolzano is a peripheral area at the southern fringes of the Alps concerning the location within the Alps as well as with regard to the priorities of the state. South Tyrol represents also an interface between the two most developed macro areas of Europe, which also include the southern part of Germany, Austria and Northern Italy. It is crossed by one of the main north-south axes of communication in Europe and has suffered less from the depopulation in mountain areas than other alpine regions. Nevertheless, it is not immune to these phenomena, which seem to intensify due to the pull-effect of the urban centres in the valleys and along the fringes of the Alps.
  2. South Tyrol belongs in the economic rankings to the leaders among the Italian regions and the top ten among the European regions. Nevertheless, South Tyrol is a region, where the successful development happened in recent years. Hence, it has not fully finished yet the transition from an agriculturally and industrially driven economy to a highly developed service sector provider. Apart from its particular suitability for tourism, South Tyrol’s development has been strongly benefitting from expanding the employment-options and by enhancing the internal demand. Due to the changes of global production processes, the country faces on the contrary the danger of dragging behind in the international context.
  3. The province of Bolzano has a stable and balanced economic structure with its uniformly distributed potential, which builds mainly on traditional branches. At the same time, these sectors are impacted with the new possibilities of digital technology and new forms of communication and marketing strategies. In South Tyrol a polarization concerning the demanded careers at the labour market can be observed. On the one hand, the demand for employees with low and medium qualifications continues, whereas on the other hand almost all sectors have been starting to raise the requirements for higher labour competences. Nevertheless, the region still has to dispose only on low education rates in the services sector and continues to rely on a technically oriented vocational training. In parallel interesting trends emerge, concerning the numbers of university graduates - particular in some academic fields.
  4. The special autonomous statute characterizes the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, which is the result of the coexistence of multiple cultures and languages and meaningful historical events. This diversity is increasingly understood as a richness that appears to become an advantage in all productive areas, and in broader terms for the flourishing of the overall economic structure. Nevertheless, this still happens with a certain hesitancy. The potential, which builds on the intersection of linguistic and cultural skills with the economic development, is not even today exploited exhaustively. The vision for the year 2020 (and beyond) shows us a province that is wide open to international cooperation networks in the various fields of economy, research and culture. It continues puts great emphasis on enhancing the quality of personnel and ensuring environmental sustainability. This strategy does not result in losses for the local economy and regional identity. Quite the contrary, it is rather the basis to act jointly with other systems. The attention to environmental protection and the authenticity does not only guarantee high quality of life for citizens and attractions for tourists, but rather represents the guiding principle for the economic development processes in all sectors.


Regional challenges with regard to climate change

In mountain regions like in South Tyrol, society is with all of its activities, such as tourism, agriculture, water and forestry strongly dependent on the environment. If climate change influences the environmental framework, conditions that affects indirectly both social and economic sectors. Compared to the world-standards the Alps are particularly stronger affected from climate change. The warming in the Alpine region temperatures raised with + 2 °C twice as much as the European average in the last 100 years. The reasons for this particularly rapid warming are not yet fully clear. One of the reasons might be the function of the Alps as a climate and weather divide between the Mediterranean climate of southern Europe and the Atlantic climate of mid Europe. Climate change does not only results in a general warming, but may effect also a shift of climate zones to the north. For this reason, the Alps, and at a greater extent, the southern parts, located in the sphere of influence of the Mediterranean climate, have to cope with dry summers and mild and wet winters. Another effect is likely the declining snow cover in the Alps. Similar to the effect on the polar caps, that reduces the reflection and this leads to local heating. In general, the South Tyrolean agriculture can adapt well to changing climatic conditions e.g. by selecting new forms of planting-types or varieties. In future problems could occur in areas of intensive agriculture, which already today strongly relies on artificial irrigation. Higher temperatures lead to premature flowering and maturity in orchards and vineyards. This may affect the fruit quality. Because of insufficient water supply, drought damage are expected to increase. In addition, more burden of insect pests have to be expected. Regarding harmful fungi diseases on the opposite, the forecasts are still uncertain. Agriculture can adapt to that phenomenon through more efficient irrigation systems and improved tillage. Another recommended adaptation strategy is the selection of late maturing, dry and pest resistant varieties. The effort in crop protection will hence increase in the future. It is assumed that the agricultural sector is prepared adapt to moderate climate change. Rather more problematic are estimated the development of extreme weather events. As already mentioned an adequate water-supply of all utilized agricultural areas is a fundamental adaptation measure in South Tyrol. Since it is expected that the availability of water is gradually more restricted in the future, further efforts and ongoing monitoring are needed. The current distribution of irrigation systems in orchards looks currently like this: nearly 24% of the cultivated orchards have been equipped with a drip irrigation, whereas over 70% of the orchards still apply exclusively the technique of over crown irrigation. Although the trend of recent years indicates an improvement of the situation, the optimum is still not reached. Besides direct measures for applying irrigation efficiently, further adaptation measures like the use of drought-resistant substrate in the wine sector or new methods in tillage are desirable. Alongside further directly impacting weather effects, hail nets are recommended as a double protection against hail and sunburn. Due to climate change, experts expect an extension of acreage to the north for the European pomiculture and viticulture. This development can also be observed in South Tyrol, particularly in the Upper Venosta Valley (Vinschagau). Concerning the structural change in agriculture and financial benefits, pomicultures are continuing to spread towards the Resia mountain pass. The verified increase in temperature in this region favours this development.


Proposed solutions to overcome the challenges

Contribution to answering the focus question

Currently South Tyrol supplies on an area of 20.000 hectares 10% of apple European apple market and according to the organic apple production in Europe, South Tyrol produces 4% of organic apple. To maintain this intense production and to keep the production figures effort is taken to make the apple production resilient towards the effects of climate change. Thus, the main focus is put on better adapted apple species. They should be able to deal with the expected issues in 2050 like water scarcity for irrigation, warmer and dryer summer periods and damages according to pests and extreme rainfall and hail events need to be considered. Options to transfer the production under climate change impact from integrated production (IP) to an organic production should be analyzed, too to meet the higher demand for organic apples by 2050. Questions like raising risks ending up in steadily varying revenues according to the distribution of pests (new invasive species) if less pesticides are applied need to be discussed. To compensate harvest-losses, various active and passive adaptation measures should be recommended, which are appropriate to the site conditions here in South Tyrol. Finally, additional locations should be determined, that are appropriate to extend the planting-territory for apple orchards even to higher sites or into the inner-Alpine valleys. Regarding grassland farming and milk cow husbandry, the requests are similar. For the here typical small structured dairy farms it is expected that they are in general benefitting from raising average temperatures and a prolongation of the vegetation period. Explorative analysis showed positive effects on the fodder-revenues as these positive climatic developments seem to enable a further cut of grassland. Extended sunny weather periods are favoring hey-collection and have a positive effect on the fodder’s quality. On the contrary, a sufficient water supply is a precondition as longer lasting periods without precipitation effect higher evaporation, which needs to be compensated with irrigation measures. Besides, due to raising soil-erosion at higher altitudes, grassland is increasingly suffering from natural hazards. The 10 South Tyrolean dairy cooperatives, which are aiming to be present on foreign markets, produce with 126 million kg of yogurt per year a third of the production of yogurt in Italy. Additionally 100 million liters of milk are processed to make mozzarella. Thanks to the lactose free production, also Mascarpone shows excellent performances and even the figures in the production of goat’s milk show positive tendencies. Farmers linked to these 10 dairy cooperatives supply ca. 379 million kilograms of milk. The price paid in 2014 for milk is with 49.88 cents / kg (excluding VAT) exceeding quite much the European average price level. The turnover of the milk sector in South Tyrol has increased by 1.3% slightly and arrived now at 451 million €, guaranteeing 910 jobs (

However, this quite positive figures, grassland farms are currently facing an alarming high abandonment rate. As particular small farms in often less favored areas stop farm management, their farmland is abandoned too. This leads finally to an intensification of the production at the lower, more favorable sites like in the planes of inner Alpine valleys. Due to the changing climatic conditions, the plantation of fodder-maize is extended to intensify dairy production.

Important adaptation measures that are or will be considered in the study

Water management is important to this region
Irrigation is important to this region
Drainage is important to this region
Species/varietal choice is important to this region
Plant breeding is important to this region
Changed planting/sowing days is important to this region
Crop rotations is important to this region
Alternative tillage methods is important to this region
Pest/weed management is important to this region
Housing of livestock is important to this region AND will be included in the modelling exercise
Land consolidation is important to this region
Management of feeding and reproduction of livestock is important to this region
Structure and scale of production adjustment is important to this region
Crop insurance is important to this region
Exit from agriculture is important to this region AND will be included in the modelling exercise
Climate alertness is important to this region
Political regulations at various administrative levels is important to this region AND will be included in the modelling exercise

Models, stakeholders, advancement of knowledge

Models used in the study
Currently we apply statistical models to describe the development of the agro-structural change including socio-economic data for the total Alpine area and qualitative information at selective local sites. As input data we compute secondary statistical data from the national statistical institutes and use literature sources to find out the most relevant exogenous and endogenous driving factors impacting farm abandonment. For establishing and designing Crop models we don’t have sufficient experiences here at EURAC. Besides, we could provide for South Tyrol as a pilot area the relevant input data for a Macsur Partner that is familiar with computing crop models. For establishing and designing grassland models we don’t have any experience here at EURAC. We can offer to provide for South Tyrol as a pilot area the relevant input data for a Macsur Partner that is familiar with computing grassland models. Currently we did not apply a model on livestock or cattle breeding yet. Anyway we are currently in the discussion to apply a model to calculate/estimate GHG emissions along the production process. Within a model like that the size of farms, type of management (intensity, techniques, feeding, races, etc.) should be considered. Besides, it was also agreed that the analysis could not stop at the farm gate. There is the need to go further and to include the logistics and the processing of milk to final products at the cooperatives. Apart of gathering valid empirical data, it is the target to derive regulations to reduce GHG emissions and to develop communication and marketing strategies to raise awareness among the consumers.
How are results of of crop and livestock models assimilated in socio-economic models?How is technological progress in arable agriculture taken into account?How is technological progress in livestock farming taken into account?

Participating stakeholders

Agro-business or agro-food chainAdministrative bodies or regional or national governments

(1) Association of South Tyrol’s milk cooperatives (Sennereiverband)

(2) South Tyrolean’s Farm Association (Südtiroler Bauernbund)

(3) VOG Consortium of South Tyrolean Fruit Growers Cooperatives

(4) VIP: Val Venosta Cooperatives Association (Verband der Vinschgauer Produzenten)

(5) Beratungsring: Bergbauernberatung (BRING)

(6) Laimburg - Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry

(7) Expert in managing apple orchards

(1) Provincial governor for Agriculture Forestry, Civil Protection and Municipalities

(2) Personal assistant of the provincial governor

(3) Head of the department for agriculture in the autonomous province of Bolzano

Approaches for involving stakeholders

Improvement of the modelling capability by involving stakeholders

How did the modelling capability improve by involving stakeholders?Effect of the involvement of stakeholders on the questions asked, on the assessment, or on the solutions suggested
Points that researchers learned from stakeholdersPoints that stakeholders learned from researchers

Further information

Apple Production:

In Northern Italy, the autonomous province of South Tyrol has the biggest single area producing apple trees in Europe. The 19 000 ha of apple production area in South Tyrol supplies up to 50% of the national Italian apple market, 15% of the European and 2% of the global apple market. Apple production has been able to flourish and has consistently responded to market demands and competition in the European and global markets. Since the end of the Second World War and continuing, the various stakeholders involved in apple production and marketing have organized themselves in an efficient and effective Learning and Innovation Network for Sustainable Agriculture (LINSA). It is a highly sophisticated and adaptive network involving producers, their cooperatives and associations; research; agricultural advisory services; and other public and private actors, all collaborating in a network of linkages that functions due to the high level of understanding and co-operation amongst all stakeholders. The most important components of the LINSA are the apple producer cooperatives and their strict adhesion to the basic principles of self-help, self-administration, self-responsibility and member’s promotion, as defined by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen. The other factors that influenced the nature of this system are many. Historically, socially and culturally, the nature of the province and of its inhabitants fostered the creation of a geographical cluster where people and institutions had to co-evolve and innovate to survive and strive. In recent decades, the province has had a stable political landscape with a strong pro-agriculture policy that complemented national government policies and the Common agriculture Policy of the European Union, providing a good enabling environment for innovation. Economically, the diversification of income of the 8.000 family farms belonging to this LINSA contributed to the resilience of this innovation system. The network’s development was influenced by formal and informal mechanisms with a strong social learning component. Formal mechanisms can be found at policy, institutional and individual levels. Social learning aspects permeate the system. Learning in South Tyrol is linked to an outside and inside dynamic, both at individual and at collective level. The social capital created in this geographical cluster allows the development of the system by absorbing existing knowledge from others and creating knowledge. (Source:

Dairy farming:

Dairy farming is the most important economic sector of mountain agriculture. An adequate animal husbandry, and balanced feeding above all, are necessary for the production of high-quality dairy products. Farm-produced fodder plays therein an important role. The sector livestock farming provides essential input to planning, carrying out and interpreting experiments about forage production. Hence main emphasize at Laimburg the Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry owned by the Province is put on the importance of various procedures of ground fodder preparations in the feeding of milk-cows and in the management and treatment of farm manure and nutrient balance. In the mountain regions, grassland not only provides healthy forage for cattle, but it also represents a refuge for rare plant and animal species and a recreation area for people. The management practices should provide a basis for a sustainable, site-specific forage production and of a sound animal feeding.

The scope of research concentrates on: - Variety trials of forage species - Development and test of seed mixtures for permanent meadows - Sustainable grassland management o Yield and vegetation dynamics o Fertilization and nutrient balance o Estimation of forage quality o Drought damages on grassland depending on management intensity - Optimization of the animal load on pastures - Costs of forage production in mountain areas


Additional sources on South Tyrol and its agriculture:

  1. Astat: Agriculture in figures 2014: