Practices on the ground!

GAEC Standards

Within the meetings with farmers throughout the 4 counties involved in the project Practices on the ground! We have managed to present the conditions required to be fulfilled and respected according to standards regarding good agricole and environment conditions of the land (GAEC) with reference to the climate and environment, public health and plant health as well as animal welfare. These conditionalities GAEC have been included in the national strategic plan of 2023 – 2027.

In order to offer clarity in application we communicate to farmers the GAEC standards which will become mandatory for farmers included in the national strategic plan. These standards include requirements of green which refer to a diversification of crops on arable land, maintaining some areas of ecological interest as well as maintaining permanent grassland.

To reach a wider number of farmers and people involved in preservation and maintaining soil quality we will resume in this article, in short, the 9 GAEC standards. Thusly, GAEC 1 makes reference to maintaining permanent grassland on the basis of a proportional report between these grasslands and the arable land surface at a national level, compared to the reference year of 2018. The maximum reduction rate is of 5%, compared to 2018.This standard wants to introduce a general clause of protection against permanent grassland conversion towards other agrarian practices, to preserve the carbon stocks. This standard will be included in the schemes of payment for pasture.

GAEC 2 refers to protecting wetland areas and peatlands having as a general objective the protection of soils rich in carbon. This standard generates a few obligations connected to agrarian exploitations. The land with an agricol destination from the perimeter of wetlands and peatlands designated as natural protected areas, including Ramsar sites, can be used for the purpose of agriculture production (crops or pasture), by respecting the conditions set in the management plan and area regulation, as well as applying technologies and crop rotation system, elaborated on the basis of specific technical norms, respecting environment legislation.

GAEC 3 refers to the prohibition of setting fire to stubble, dry vegetation and vegetal debris from arable lands. This obligation extends to all arable land on national territory. These requirements come as a continuation of GAEC 6 requirements from the 2014-2020 plan which required a maintaining of organic material levels. The prohibition of setting fire ensures the reduction of green-house like gas emissions GES and of covering the soil in the most sensitive periods.

GAEC 4 requires the creation of a buffer (protection strip) along the water streams. This standard introduces the prohibition regarding applying protection products of plants on the buffer strips along the water streams, connected to the Nitrite Directive referring to fertilizers, as well as increasing the minimum width of these buffer strips to 3 meters (compared to 1 meter in the earlier version) for lands with a slope of up to 12% and to 5 meters (compared to 3 meters in the earlier version) for lands with a slope of over 12%.

GAEC 5 refers to managing soil labours, reducing the risk of soil degradation and erosion, including taking into consideration the slope to reflect the specific local conditions for limiting erosion, connected to soil labours including sowing on an arable land with a slope higher than 12%, cultivated with weeding plants and maintaining the existing terraces on the arable land. Regardless of the culture started, as well as the interdiction connected to soil labours for degraded land (terrain with very poorly fertile soil) not suitable for arable use (quality class 5), no matter the land slope.

GAEC 6 refers to the minimum coverage of soil to avoid uncovered soil during the most sensitive periods. The farmers must keep the land covered for at least 80% of the arable land of the exploitation and at least 50% of the permanent culture of the exploitation. In Romania the most sensitive period for the soil is during the summer (June 15th – September 30th) characterized by very high temperatures, lack of precipitation, soil drought as well as atmospheric, other extreme weather phenomena which can cause excessive dryness of the soil and the setting in of erosion, degradation and desertification.

GAEC 7 refers to culture rotation system on arable land, with the exception of water hydroponic cultures, applicable from 2024. This standard imposes a set of specific requirements, respectively agriculture practices dedicated to maintaining production potential of the arable land (soil fertility). The rotation consists in changing cultures at least once a year (culture year) per arable parcel, with the exception of multiannual cultures, herbs and other herbaceous weeding plants, fallow land and cultures in preservated areas (greenhouses and solariums).

GAEC 8 refers to the minimum proportion of farmland to be dedicated to areas or unproductive characteristics and on all arable land, maintaining landscape elements and prohibiting cutting of live hedges and trees during the period of reproduction and growth of birds. Maintaining landscape particularities, including trees from the alignment, in group or isolated and the existing terraces on arable land, prohibiting the cutting of live hedges and trees during the period of wild birds reproduction and growth, measures to avoid installation and extension of invasive plant species on arable land. This standard establishes the obligation to ensure a minimum percentage of the arable land dedicated to areas or unproductive elements in the exploitation.

GAEC 9 refers to the prohibition of converting or tillage of permanent grassland designated as ecologically sensitive permanent grassland from the Natura 2000 sites, having as a main objective protecting habitats and species.

Practices on the ground! project will continue to communicate with farmers and bring new information about standards and good practices in agriculture, according to the national strategic plan, helping spread the information and raise awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting soil quality in arable exploitations.

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