Effectiveness of the GAEC cross compliance standard Maintenance of olive groves in good vegetative condition in avoiding the deterioration of habitats and land abandonment
AbstractThe last CAP reform (Council Regulation (EC) n. 1782/2003), coincided with the mandatory obligations of the principles of cross compliance, under which all compensatory payments given in the context of the former reform packages were replaced by a Single Payment Scheme (SPS), bound to fulfillment of certain requirements and minimum standards regarding the environment and animal welfare, as well as maintaining the land in good agricultural and environmental conditions. For the olive sector, where potential risks are mainly associated to the abandonment of groves in marginal areas with consequent negative environmental impact, it has been specifically established the standard 4.3 of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) which concerns the Maintenance of olive groves and vines in good vegetative conditions. This GAEC standard was formulated to ensure a minimum level of land maintenance and to avoid the deterioration of habitats. To achieve these objectives it should be considered that a good vegetative development is strictly related to the care of the soil in which the plants grow. Erosion, organic matter and soil structure decay are the most commonly identified impacts for olive orchards, 30% of which are localized in areas with difficult orographic conditions. In this sense, proper hydraulic and mechanical techniques, cover cropping, green manuring and timely pruning turns, are essential to minimize losses due to soil erosion, to limit the leaching of nutrients and to maintain the plant productivity. Furthermore, grinded pruning residues should be spread in situ and weeds, watersprouts and suckers should be periodically cut off in order to increase the atmospheric CO2 sequestration and soil organic matter (OM) and to prevent wildfires risk and nutrients competition. The application of the standard 4.3 requires further investigations, because, while numerous studies have shown that pruning is essential for the production, there are not enough data on the influence that practicing this technique at least every five years could have on habitats maintenance and on olive trees vegetative development. This GAEC Standard seems to be too generic and should be diversified according to different types of olive orchards.
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Copyright (c) 2011 Elena Santilli, Luca Lombardo, Maria E. Varlaro, Roberto Nannelli, Elena Gagnarli, Caterina Briccoli Bati
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