Draft - aicep Portugal Global

Republic of Moldova
Project Title:
Promotion of Conservation Tillage Systems to Increase
Yields, Profitability, and Improve Soil Quality
Southern, central and northern regions of the country
5 years
Implementation Agency:
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry,
Office for combating the consequences of global climate
changes in agriculture
tel/fax: + 373 22 221586
Estimated Costs:
The Republic of Moldova is a small (33 800 km2), landlocked and one of the poorest countries in Europe
with GDP per capita significantly below the average for the Central European countries (in 2007, the
gross national income per capita was $1055 (GNI, Atlas method)). Traditionally, Moldova is a rural
country where 80% of the total surface area is cultivated. The agri-food sector contributes with 34% of
the country’s GDP, animal production representing around 30% of the total agricultural production.
Increase of rural income and poverty reduction are possible by paying due attention to rational
management of soil and water resources, especially in rainfed areas where the amount of water is not the
key limiting factor for increased yields but it is rather a matter of rainfall variability characterized by few
rainfall events, high-intensity storms and frequent dry spells and droughts. Generally speaking there is
enough rainwater to get increased yields, but because the rainfall is distributed quite unevenly most of it
is lost. Most of the rainfall occurs during summer-autumn storm events and pose serious environmental
threats. The rolling relief of Moldova causes for the heavy rains to wash off the fertile layer of the soil
and are conducive to nutrients reaching the surface water bodies. Thus, 40 % of the agricultural land is
eroded and due to this phenomenon 26 mln tons of fertile soil is lost annually. This causes for 50,000
tons of nitrogen and 34,000 of phosphorus to reach water bodies. Every year 29.6 tons of fertile soil,
including 57 kg/ha of nitrogen and 40 kg/ha of phosphorus, is washed off from one ha of land which is 6
times more than the allowed threshold.
Therefore, appropriate management of rainfall and surface run-offs together with development of
agricultural systems based on soil conservation practices as well as crops resistant to shortage of moist in
the upper layer of the soil, might produce additional water and reduce the climate change-related risks.
Conservation tillage is one of the main elements of such a system. Studies conducted in the field showed
that the integrated land management thought soil conservation measures and water-harvesting techniques
might generate a 15-29% saving. In this line, according to a study 85% of Moldovan territory is rainfed
which makes for this project to come at the right time and place.
Conventional land-use practices on arable land in Moldova, particularly inappropriate cultivation
practices have negative impacts on the environment. Land preparation and crop agronomy currently
applied by the farmers requires many field operations, especially for winter cereals, maize and sugar
beet. This is associated with aggregate breakdown, which significantly increases soil erosion
susceptibility. The process combined result in increased soil losses, sediment concentrations and runoff
An integrated conservation systems approach includes several management practices that improve water
quality, soil quality, and wildlife habitat. The use of several conservation practices to reduce
deterioration of natural resources is considered a "systems approach" to conservation management.
There are many suitable conservation practices that can be implemented such as conservation tillage
systems, crop rotations, riparian buffers, filter strips, and cover crops. Implementation of additional
conservation practices can enhance the value of other conservation practices. For instance, soil erosion
and surface runoff can be controlled by planting row crops on the contour. However, the addition of a
filter strip and conversion to no-tillage will greatly increase the effectiveness of the conservation system
in controlling runoff and sediment loss.
The increased use of conservation practices, such as no-tillage, ridge-tillage, strip-tillage, and other
residue management systems, along with different cropping systems and nutrient management is a
comprehensive approach to help farmers attain a higher level of conservation ethics. In addition to
environmental quality, conservation practices improve soil properties such as water infiltration, waterholding capacity, nutrient-holding capacity, and soil structure. The improvement of soil properties
increases soil tilth and productivity.
The Project will address the environmental, economic and social concerns arising from conventional
agriculture, by developing conservation tillage systems - i.e. systems providing optimal crop production
while conserving soil, water, energy and other system inputs - to increase the sustainability of agriculture
in the Republic of Moldova.
Overall objective is a model for learning and exchanging ideas among farmers, government agencies,
and scientists through on-farm demonstration of conservation systems with an emphasis on conservation
tillage, cropping systems, and nutrient management. Additionally, there will be a prominent education
campaign to promote conservation systems across Moldova. The unique thing about this project is the
direct involvement of farmers in the decision-making process of implementing conservation practices
that are suitable for their production operation in their particular location in the country.
Specific objective is a conservation tillage system for vegetable production that: (i) implement weed
management regimes, including cover crops, compost, and mulching; (ii) evaluate the biological and
economic outcomes of the different systems; and (iii) promulgate technology transfer through
demonstrations/Field Days and publications for area farmers and agricultural professionals.
The project will encourage farmers to use efficient agricultural production systems leading to agronomic,
economic, and environmental improvement, while tailoring educational activities to support government
conservation programs.
The Project will support activities to be implemented over five years as follows:
1. Conduct case study to identify the most appropriate demonstration sites.
2. Select appropriate soil-engaging components of tillage and planting equipment
3. Prepare a Conservation Tillage Manual and Extension Principles Manual.
4. Procure machinery and equipment.
5. Train technical personnel to operate the machinery/equipment.
6. Develop a training and replication strategy.
7. Conduct a broad public awareness and information campaign.
The major deliverables for this project will be: (a) provide demonstrations of appropriate practices in
soil management for local farmers; (d) provide practical field solutions to demonstrate sustainable
farming practices to extension workers, academia and policy makers.
The project will be implemented in the southern, central and northern regions of Moldova on three sites
where land owners are interested in conservation tillage systems to address the same underlying problem
- that of optimizing sustainable rain-fed agricultural production in an environment where moisture is
limiting, soil degradation is a major problem, and current large inputs of energy, capital or manpower are
This Project will demonstrate the benefits of conservation tillage to producers who are currently using
conventional fall tillage. Farmers who enroll in the project will work directly with crop consultants to
identify a high residue crop management system that is best suited to the farmer’s resource base. The
farmers will then adopt this system on roughly half the area of a large field, while continuing to use the
conventional tillage practices on the other half. This side-by-side approach will assist the farmers in
measuring the benefits of the conservation tillage system. Economic viability will be demonstrated by
comparing the profitability between the conventional and conservation tillage portions of the field.
The Project includes 3 main components:
1. Conservation Tillage
Conservation tillage equipment and agronomy will demonstrate the effects of conservation cropping
techniques, including non-inverting tillage and the maintenance of crop residues on the soil surface, on
crop yields and soil degradation. In the first year the experts engaged would select appropriate soilengaging components of tillage and planting equipment that would allow valid comparisons of energy
input, soil&water properties and crop performance. As the work advances, they will go on with
treatments involving varying levels of soil disturbance, residue cover and manure use, including some
elements of deep tillage to demonstrate their effect on crop yield in terms of water-use efficiency, soil
density and porosity, and organic matter level.
The main conservation tillage practices to be developed are:
No-till. The soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting except for nutrient injection. Planting or
drilling is accomplished in a narrow seedbed or slot created by coulter, row cleaners, disk openers, inrow chisels or rototillers. Weed control is accomplished primarily with herbicides. Cultivation may be
used for emergency week control.
Ridge-till. The soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting except for nutrient injection. Planting is
completed in a seedbed prepared on ridges with sweeps, disk openers, coulters or row cleaners. Residue
is left on the surface between ridges. Weed control is accomplished with herbicides and/or cultivation.
Ridges are rebuilt during cultivation.
Mulch-till. The soil is disturbed prior to planting. Tillage tools such as chisels, field cultivators, disks,
sweeps or blades are used. Weed control is accomplished with herbicides and/or cultivation.
Zone-till and strip-till are popular terms in some areas, and are considered modifications of no-till,
mulch-till or other tillage types, depending on the amount of crop residue left on the soil surface after
Reduced-till leaves 15-30% residue after planting. Conventional tillage leaves less than 15% residue
cover after planting. It generally involves plowing or intensive tillage.
The goal is to develop a conservation tillage system applicable to the majority of crop farmers in
2. Capacity Building and Replication
First of all the target groups have to be identified, as well as the type and contents of the information
required by these beneficiaries. The target groups should cover a very wide range of institutional and
professional backgrounds and interests.
Two major levels of dissemination can be distinguished:
(i) Local: farmers, land owners, local policy makers and advisory organizations;
(ii) National: farmer organisations, agricultural advisory organisations, national policy makers and
advisory organisations, researchers and academia, industry.
These beneficiaries may have different as well as overlapping information needs and interests, and so
will be addressed through a variety of dissemination means. For example the needs of farmers and field
based organizations will be met through workshops and field visits, whereas technicians and researchers
will be addressed via technical documents and scientific papers. The general public and policy makers
are more likely to be influenced by brochures and leaflets, TV, radio and written press. The
dissemination process will include awareness creation about all the site-specific elements that need to be
given consideration. A Conservation Tillage Manual and Extension Principles Manual have to be
developed under this component.
A number of senior officials, as well as the top participants from training courses shall travel abroad to
study extension delivery, and sustainable agriculture technology in the countries with high experience in
conservation tillage. Crop Breeding Institute “Selectia” and Soil Institute might lead the training staff for
field delivery of Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry programs.
It is important to understand and disseminate the different soil management practices used to cultivate
the soil and grow the crops. To facilitate this, various assessments e.g. crop cover, date of emergence,
disease prevalence, weed incidence will be made during the season and over the five year duration of the
project, thereby taking into account the farm's crop rotation.
The economic viability of the practices employed will be the key to their successful uptake by farmers
inside and outside the project. Project farmers will be encouraged to keep farming calendars throughout
the project duration, noting economic inputs (costs of land preparation, treatment application,
cultivations and management practice, harvesting costs, marketing costs, transport, variable and fixed
costs, gross margins) and outputs (yields).
3. Project Management
Overall responsibility for financial management of the project will rest with the Office for combating the
consequences of global climate changes in agriculture (Office). An assessment will be performed during
appraisal of the Project in order to ensure that the Office financial management system is adequate for
implementation of the Project. The following issues should be addressed in order to adjust financial
management capacity of Office for implementation of the Project: (i) development of the chart of
accounts to incorporate disbursement categories, project components and activities in order to produce
Financial Management Reports (FMRs) and for disbursement purposes; (ii) development of the formats
of the financial monitoring reports to reflect project implementation activities; and (iii) incorporation, as
appropriate, of the financial management requirements of co-financiers, if any. Project managementoriented Financial Management Reports will be used for project monitoring and supervision and, subject
to the foregoing, the indicative formats of these will be included in the Office accounting manual. The
Office will produce a full set of FMRs every six months throughout the life of the project.
Approach: Specific methods include the following: conservation tillage systems and crop rotations to
disrupt weed cycles and enhance competitiveness of crop plant through additions of N-fixing cover
crops. Three farms will be selected to participate in this project. County extension agencies and scientists
will collaborate and provide technical assistance to the farmers and help in disseminating research
The activities are envisaged programmatically, to allow for scaling up, cofinancing with development
partners. The GoM is highly interested in promoting of conservation agriculture.
The project will build upon various efforts intended to support rural development and sustainable
agriculture in Moldova as well as to improve the environment. The agricultural extension activities
supported by the project, would laid the ground of increased understanding of how much important
conservation agriculture could be in improving living conditions in the rural area. The project will also
provide strong impetus for progress on critical policy actions for the agricultural sector by increasing
incentives for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry to invest in proper land and water
The program will have impacts across the entire agricultural, rural and environmental sector.