Environmental effectiveness of GAEC cross-compliance Standard 2.1 ‘Maintaining the level of soil organic matter through management of stubble and crop residues’ and economic evaluation of the competitiveness gap for farmers

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Domenico Ventrella *
Nino Virzì
Francesco Intrigliolo
Massimo Palumbo
Michele Cambrea
Alfio Platania
Fabiola Sciacca
Stefania Licciardello
Antonio Troccoli
Mario Russo
Rosa Francaviglia
Ulderico Neri
Margherita Falcucci
Giampiero Simonetti
Olimpia Masetti
Ginaluca Renzi
Marisanna Speroni
Lamberto Borrelli
Giovanni Cabassi
Luigi Degano
Roberto Fuccella
Francesco Savi
Paolo Tagliabue
Marco Fedrizzi
Roberto Fanigliulo
Mauro Pagano
Giulio Sperandio
Mirko Guerrieri
Daniele Puri
Francesco Montemurro
Vittorio Alessandro Vonella
Luisa Giglio
Francesco Fornaro
Mirko Castellini
Rita Leogrande
Carolina Vitti
Marcello Mastrangelo
Angelo Fiore
Mariangela Diacono
Francesca Chiarini
Francesco Fracasso
Erica Sartori
Antonio Barbieri
Francesco Fagotto
Paolo Bazzoffi
(*) Corresponding Author:
Domenico Ventrella | domenico.ventrella@crea.gov.it

Abstract

Within the Project MO.NA.CO. the Environmental effectiveness of GAEC cross-compliance Standard 2.2 ‘Maintaining the level of soil organic matter through management of stubble and crop residues’ and economic evaluation of the competitiveness gap for farmers were evaluated. The monitoring was performed in eight experimental farms of the Council for agricultural research and economics (CREA), distributed throughout Italy and with different soil and climatic conditions. Yield parameters and several components of soil organic matter were evaluated in two contrasting treatments applied to one-year rotation of winter durum wheat and maize: i) incorporation into the soil of crop residues (Factual treatment) and ii) burning or removal of crop residues (Counterfactual treatment). The application of the standard ‘crop residue management’ has showed contrasting results with differences (for yield and soil) between the two treatments resulted almost always non significant. The analysis of economic competitiveness gap showed that the CR incorporation is more expensive than CR burning or removal, but the economic disadvantage can be considered rather small and thus easily compensated by Community aids. Therefore, the soil incorporation of crop residues can be considered a ‘good agricultural practice’ that does not penalize farmers in terms of production and cost and at the same time contributes to the maintenance of fertility and soil biodiversity. On the contrary, the removal and burning of residues result in a low or no-addition of organic matter into the soil. Moreover, burning can contribute to decrease the biodiversity and to increase the risk of air pollution, fires and road accidents.

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