Romania is not generating yields that correspond to its rather good soils. The intention of the case study is to assess whether longer rotations, especially with leguminous crops, can help improve yields at a reasonable economic and environmental cost.
What are the main problems underlying the emergence of the case study?
Despite Romania’s relatively good and deep soils with high organic matter content, yields are not stable. While climate change and use of chemicals can decrease potential yields, short crop rotations likely also play a role. Crop rotation in Romania usually includes winter wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower is often quit short (often 3 to 4 year rotations). There are also other points that could act as bottlenecks for increased rotation:
- These four crops are seen as the most profitable crops in Romania so farmers do not want to add others.
- Romanian farmers have a long tradition of planting these few crops which means they have extensive knowledge, making these crops less risky than others.
- Lack of local market for more diversified products
- External market demands are mostly for these four crops and the downstream market is quite well organized for them.
The need for longer rotations with a greater diversity of crops seems obvious, especially with legumes. Would it be possible to develop niche markets to improve profitability?
How is the problem addressed and which actors are involved?
AIDER is working with its farmer’s network and monitoring trials to identify how to enhance crops diversification in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. In addition to the farmer network, the case study will also involve market actors (consumers and traders!).
Although the majority of actors are farmers, the case study is also supported by seed companies (know-how and testing plots), R&D teams and a few consulting companies.
The case study will assess the agronomic benefits (and their economic impact) of a more diversified crop rotation. It will assess the results from trials conducted on microparcels and will check it against the field data to improve knowledge on legumes production.
In AIDER’s test microparcels we are monitoring how peas, chickpeas and beans are responding to Romania's environment conditions.
We also have a close collaboration with farmers who test peas, chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybean, faba bean and alfalfa on a larger scale. These collaborations will provide data, which will support knowledge and exchange experiences. AIDER is also working with work package 5 partners to analyze the market and identify stakeholders that should become players in adding value to the legume market.
Two main outcomes are expected from the case study:
- Diversification practices that promote improved soil biological status in legumes.
- Upstream and downstream organization that will fosterprofitable conditions for legume production, in the whole rotation (which is the main barrier for farmers).
Relevance for the DiverIMPACTS goals
In order to achieve large-scale crop diversification, it is necessary to show not only the environmental benefits, but also the economic benefits. This case study will address this challenge in order to achieve the full potential of these production systems.
- Anca Moiceanu, AIDER, case study leade
- Pascal Parache, AIDER, case study monitor