Testing the Effectiveness of the European Cross-compliance Standard 3.1 “Ploughing in Good Soil Moisture Conditions”

Document Type: Case Report


1 Research Centre for the Soil-Plant System (CREA-RPS), Roma, Italy

2 Research Unit for Agro-pastoral Systems in Mediterranean Environment (CREA-AAM), Sanluri, Italy

3 Research Centre for Agro-biology and Pedology (CREA-ABP), Firenze, Italy

4 Cereal Research Centre (CREA-CER), Foggia, Italy

5 Research Centre for Fodder Crop and Dairy Productions (CREA-FLC), Lodi, Italy

6 Research Unit for Cropping Systems in Dry Environments (CREA-SCA), Bari, Italy

7 Veneto Agricoltura, Regional Agency for Agriculture, Forestry and Agri-food sector, Legnaro, Italy


A three years monitoring was carried out at 9 sites in Italy to evaluate some physical indicators of soil quality related to soil structure degradation and compaction: bulk density, packing density, surface roughness of the seedbed, and crop yields, and test effectiveness of European cross-compliance Standard 3.1 ‘Ploughing in good soil moisture conditions’. Two plots were set up in each site: low soil moisture (L), with soil main tillage at lower water content, and high soil moisture (H) with soil main tillage at higher water content. The volumetric soil water contents at ploughing in the two treatments were compared with Upper Tillage Limit (θUTL) and Optimum Tillage Limit (θOTL). Grain yields of crops were lower as average when soil was tilled at high moisture content in comparison with the low moisture treatments. The physical parameters adopted as indicators of soil structure degradation proved effective in assessing the differences among the treatments, and could be adopted as a routine scheme in similar researches on the effects of soil tillage on soil degradation.