Scholarly article on topic '‘Mountain Product’, of High- biological Quality. Meadows’ Poliflora, Organic Fertilizer and a Sustainable Mountain Economy'

‘Mountain Product’, of High- biological Quality. Meadows’ Poliflora, Organic Fertilizer and a Sustainable Mountain Economy Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Radu Rey

Abstract In the mountains of Romania there are about.2.2 million hectares of natural grasslands and hayfields with a valuable polyphloral structure - a result of centuries-old cooperation of Man and Nature, with the help of ruminant animals, through organic fertilizers. These are indispensable key factors that ensure permanent living in mountain areas for more than 800,000 families of traditional farmers, animal breeders who obtain high quality protein organic food for about four million people, with a growth potential of about 50%.Organic fertilizers improve poor and acid mountain soils, by organic substance and alkalinity, with minimum costs and the economic effect of maintaining the floral structure and the valuable biodiversity.In 7-8 years of interrupting this process, the natural flora starts to “turn wild” again, by being invaded by worthless plants. At the level of family farms an important resource of biological nitrogen is wasted and it also becomes harmful factor for animals, humans and the environment - Purina. Good management of organic fertilizer and hays – turns into economic resource and factor for guaranteeing the high quality of agri-food “mountain products”, obtained in the absence of chemicals and in a clean environment. Separation of these guaranteed “niche” products, better prices from selling them on the organic products market in associative-cooperative system, are objectives and a solution able to produce significant economic, social and cultural positive effects and to ensure the preservation of functional biodiversity, based on renewable and sustainable resources.

Academic research paper on topic "‘Mountain Product’, of High- biological Quality. Meadows’ Poliflora, Organic Fertilizer and a Sustainable Mountain Economy"

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Procedia Economics and Finance 8 (2014) 622 - 631

1st International Conference 'Economic Scientific Research - Theoretical, Empirical and Practical

Approaches', ESPERA 2013

'Mountain product', of high- biological quality. Meadows' poliflora, organic fertilizer and a sustainable mountain economy

Radu Reya*

aRomanian Academy, "Costin C. Kiritescu " National Institute of Economic Research, Center for Mountain Economy, The House of R omanian

Academy, Calea 13 Septembrie nr. 13, Bucharest

Abstract

In the mountains of Romania there are about.2.2 million hectares of natural grasslands and hayfields with a valuable polyphloral structure - a result of centuries-old cooperation of Man and Nature, with the help of ruminant animals, through organic fertilizers. These are indispensable key factors that ensure permanent living in mountain areas for more than 800,000 families of traditional farmers, animal breeders who obtain high quality protein organic food for about four million people, with a growth potential of about 50%.Organic fertilizers improve poor and acid mountain soils, by organic substance and alkalinity, with minimum costs and the economic effect of maintaining the floral structure and the valuable biodiversity.In 7-8 years of interrupting this process, the natural flora starts to "turn wild" again, by being invaded by worthless plants. At the level of family farms an important resource of biological nitrogen is wasted and it also becomes harmful factor for animals, humans and the environment - Purina. Good management of organic fertilizer and hays - turns into economic resource and factor for guaranteeing the high quality of agri-food "mountain products", obtained in the absence of chemicals and in a clean environment. Separation of these guaranteed "niche" products, better prices from selling them on the organic products market in associative-cooperative system, are objectives and a solution able to produce significant economic, social and cultural positive effects and to ensure the preservation of functional biodiversity, based on renewable and sustainable resources.

© 2014 The Authors. Published by ElsevierB.V.

Selection and peer-review under responsibilityoftheOrganizingCommitteeof ESPERA2013 Keywords:poliflora; organic fertilizer; "mountain product"

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 40745.507.537. E-mail address:cabinet_fmr@yahoo.com

2212-5671 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of ESPERA 2013 doi: 10.1016/S2212-5671(14)00137-3

1. Introduction

1.1. Romania - mountain area

•The total surface of the Romanian mountain area: ~71,341 km 2 (~ 30% of the country).

• Counties with mountain area: 27 (excluding the mountains of Dobrogea).

• Administrative Units: 657 ATU (NUTS5) - with about3,560 villages.

Buigafi?

Fig. 1: Map of Romanian Carpathians

Agricultural holdings, private: ~ 850,000.

~ 20% of Romania's population (3.37 million inhabitants, of which ~ 2.1 million in holdings, of which 1.3 million farmers - animal breeders, active).

• The land fund: - ~ 4mil.ha. of forests and forest vegetation;- 2.9 million ha. of agricultural lands (a decrease of about 300,000 ha in the last 10 years, enclosed in the forest fund ...), of which:

• Grasslands: ~ 1.283 million ha.; hayfields: ~ 938,000 ha.; arable lands: ~ 616,000 ha.; orchards:- 53,000 ha.

• Animalst (decrease by ~ 50 %!);Cattle: ~ 558,000; Sheep: ~ 1,920,000 (decrease of ~ 20%); Goats: ~ 184,000; Horses: ~ 113,000 (~ 20% decrease).

• Average areas / household: at 6-700 meters of altitude ~ 2.5 ha.; at more than 800 meters ~ 3.5-4.5 ha. General average area / household - 3.9 ha.

• Elements of differentiation - compared to plains / hills:

- Low fertility soils (Category 3,4,5)

- Slopes (most of them) - > 15%

- Limited mechanization

- Climate regime more severe during winters months

- Shorter vegetation period

- Agri-livestock systems very different

- No use of chemicals, minor pollution, extensive / semi-extensiveanimal breeding

- Economic efficiency - lower

- Grazing animal breeds adapted

- Physical efforts, higher transport costs.

• A third of Romania is covered by mountain area, with geo-climatic, traditionaland economical localdifferences.

1According to the General Agricultural Census - 2010

• One of the greatest assets of the Romanian Carpathians is the natural fodder flora of grasslands and hayfields.

The polifloralqualitativestructure

ofmountain meadows represents a fortunate centuries-old cooperation betweenMAN and NATURE, with the help of ruminant animals, through organic fertilizers.

Fig. 2: Biodiversity in a natural meadow

• Romanian Carpathians are one of the great mountain ranges of Europe, being living mountains and the mountain farmers - local animal breeders with stable households are the main irreplaceable factors who have valuable traditional knowledge, "best practices" which ensured the continuity in the use of organic fertilizers -with an essential role in the formation and maintenance of natural polifloral of mountain grasslands and hayfields.By grasslands, hayfields, cattle,sheep and organic fertilizers it was possible to close thesummerwinter cycle and to provide the permanent dwelling of mountains.

Fig. 3: Braun breed on grasslandFig. 4: Sheep going up the mountains

In the Romanian mountains, by the 3 million hectares of agricultural lands (of which about 2.2 million ha. grasslands and hayfields and about 850,000 family farms), on the least productive farmlands - people are still producing basic food for more than 3 million people and by good management they can produce food, essentially high quality protein, for about6 million people.

2. Research results and observations from traditional practices:

•Organic fertilizers from ruminant animals (manure and purina) improve

poor and acid mountain soils, by organicsubstance and alkalinity, with minimum costs, by which the valuable fodder flora is maintained.

Fig. 5: Landscape in mountain area

The research undertaken by specialized institutes and the direct observations of agricultural specialists and animal breeders showed that in only 7-8 years of interrupting the continuity of the correct use of organic fertilizers the natural fodder flora, created in centuries of human perseverance, in harmony with nature, for survival ("punishment of the mountains" ...) starts to "turn wild" again.

Hence the need for prioritization of interventions supporting mountain grasslands and animal breeders.

In the Romanian Carpathians, under profoundly changed conditions of XXI century, with multiple alternatives for young mountainfarmers (massive migration to cities or abroad), ensuring continuity, conservation of quality of grasslands and of production of human food in the mountains, is seriously jeopardized.There is the risk of permanently losing, by human desertification, a major source of food and other renewableeconomic resources that are capitalized thanks to the existence of mountain farmers with their farms (family farms), placed in the valleys or disseminated on slopes at altitudes that exceed 1.500m.

The agri-zootechnical productive yields inevitably lower in the natural conditions of mountain areas do not allow the mountains to compete, as volume, with high fertility areas of lowlands / hills.

2.1. Organic fertilizers

The fertilizers from ruminant animals have a special importance: -Sheep(goats) -play a major rolein the formation and improvement ofgrasslandsandhayfields (anaerobic fermentation, alkalinity, scattering without costs).

-Cattle- witha major role for maintenance and improvement of grassland flora: -Manure: requires collecting platforms (rottingalcalinity/30-40t.ha)

-Urine (Purina)-great resource for biological nitrogen:requires collecting basins, means ofdispersal(billion liters per year - not used).

Fig. 6: Modernized stable Poiana §tampei, Suceava county

Harmful effects - in stables: emanations of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and others. Emergencies:

Hygiene in stables.In the mountain area, in about90% of stables the hygiene is poor! (poor yields, health problems for humans / animals). Serious risks: failure to have milk "compliant" and the milk to be not accepted in

commerce! (a certainty after 2014).

Fig. 7: Traditional stable

• Solutions—>modernizing stables: -Basins forpurine

-Manure platforms

-Natural ventilation,efficient

- Light - running water.

Fig. 8 and 9: New stable

Detailing:

Differences regarding organic fertilizers

a) manure from sheep/goat;

b) manure from cattle.

a) Sheep-goats: through the natural form of manure is that of a capsule.Fermentation occurs in confined anaerobic space, with a short rotting period and turning from acid to alkaline. Factors that boost fermentation: soil moisture - given by rain or dew, solar heat.

Advantages: transportation to and spreading on grasslands are free, by the normal move of flocks.

A traditional "best practice" is the late free grazing in autumn of hayfields - after harvesting the second "hay." An additional fattening of hayfields is obtained.

b) Cattle: the natural form of manure during grazing is different from stabulation.

On grasslands: flat shape, 25-35 cm in diameter, semi-liquid consistency ("grass" manure), with high degree of acidity - that "burns" the vegetation and does not help the valuable plants - by alkalinity. Rotting is slow, carried out with large loss of nitrogen in the atmosphere.

In stabulation: "hay" manure, semi-solid, traditionally stored in simple piles without platforms, which is not advisable.

For hayfields: different role compared to grasslands - essential for maintaining the valuable natural fodder flora. Accumulation in "manure platforms" during the stabulation period (6-7 months / yr) enables anaerobic fermentation, rotting and transfer from acid to alkaline, with a semi-sterilizing effect for some bacteria and parasites. But the Heavy weight of manure does not allow transportation on long distances, especially in terms of slope.It is a reason that determined the location of many households (stables) at altitudes, advisable in the upper third of slopes, in order to be able to use gravity when transporting manure on grasslands.

The practice of spreading manure in winter (quite widespread) is not recommended, due to large loss of nitrogen in the atmosphere.

• Purina from cattle (urine + small fragments of manure) is a great resource for free "biological" nitrogen, almost unused in mountain areas.Purina has to be collected daily in basins (and left there for at least 3 months) and requires to be extracted from the basin (pump) and spread on hayfields, in strips, after dilution with water in a proportion of 1/3 - 1/4, depending on soil moisture (dry or rainy periods).Traditionally, it is recommended after mowing the hayfields - being able to still get a crop of grass (hay) in the same year.

Note: in countries with mountains, like Austria, Switzerland, Germany, etc., all stables have manure platforms and purina basins, the exceptions being entirely rare.

Different from sheep/goats - the conservation and use of manure and purina involves transportation costs and costs related to farmers' labor.

2.2. Conclusions

To ensure the conservation and improvement of natural fodder flora of mountain grasslands (functional biodiversity) requires the existence of ruminant animals with the distinctive role of sheep/goats and cattle - on grasslands (during summer) and hayfields (in winter), aspect that explains and justifies the perpetuation of mixed family farms (cattle and sheep/goats) in mountain areas.

3. Quality of hays.Aflatoxins

The traditional conservation of hay during winter, in stacks not covered, subject to weather, is obsolete.

• Negative effects: moisture (rain, snow) and mechanical losses (wind, wildlife).

- Can appear aflatoxin in milk, which can become a reason for "blocking" the recognition of "ecologic" product.

• Cheap solution at hand: haybarns - on hayfields (wood quality II-III).

• Modern solutions (more expensive) - mechanization is required: baling, wrapping.

Fig. 10: Traditional system for storing hay Fig. 11: Haybarns solution

4. "Mountain product" - with high nutritious value

A special chance for mountain agri-livestock consists of the high quality of MOUNTAIN AGRIFOOD product, given by:

a) flora fodder, multifloral, of natural grasslands and hayfields (multivitamins, multi-mineral salts, other protective factors - including the contribution of medicinal herbs, which, together with clean waters, unpolluted air and the traditional extensive system of animal breeding gives the "package" of conditions that justify the biological quality of milk and meat, superior to other products produced in the plains and hills, by using chemicals, in environmental conditions with varying degrees of pollution, feeding with reduced number of plant species, breeding under industrial semi-intensive or intensive conditions);

b) Traditional extensivebreeding of moving ruminant animals, elimination of toxins through perspiration;

c) Absence of use of chemicals (nitrates, nutrites, pesticides) in an agricultural world intensively usingchemicals;

d) Unpolluted environment: water, air - clean.

FOOD PRODUCTS OBTAINED UNDER MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS, by the best traditional practices (improved), are essentially environmental and the animal protein (dairy, meat) is of high biological quality.

Today, with agriculture intensively using chemicals and general human food charged with factors that are aggressive or unsafe for health, the "mountain products' of high quality and sanitary guaranteed are " niche "

products aimed at healthy self-feeding the producers and at the market of "niche"urban consumersthat is growing.

Separation of these products from the ones from non-mountain areas and selling them for fully justified higher prices,for the direct benefit of producers and not the intermediaries - is the unique way by which a basic mountain agri-food economy can be revived, accompanied by other support measures, at national and Community level.

This type of mountain economy is based on renewable energy and is also sustainable - factors of great importance in the XXI century and clear objectives of EC.

In order to better turn into account the high quality mountain livestock products and in order to increase farmers' incomes and re-encourage the younger generations - it is essential the farmers to associate themselves into cooperatives at the level of marketing (and not at the level of production - where the individual system is fine), with their own processing and marketing capabilities, achievable on bio-areas large enough (8-12 communes), able to cope with current and future conditions of the market, which involve:

- Sufficient volume of products;

- Continuity throughout the year;

- Guarantee of mountain origin and quality;

- Ensuring food safety.

• The market for organic products is growing for exports and the national market is evolving positively, in

correlation with consumers' buying potential and awareness degree on the high quality of mountain food products, appreciated under the name of 'mountain product' at the level of EC/2013 (Regulation 1151/2012 - officially published on December 14th , 2012).

Examples:

• Formation of financial resources to increase the prices for milk and meat as quality "mountain products" - through self-reproduction:

- + 30% - average selling price (e.g. Switzerland, Italy, etc.);

- Avoiding intermediaries— 40%;

- Value added and short chains: ~ 20-30%.

Table 1 - Projection of selling prices

Current Expected

MILK (cow) 0.7-1.0 lei / liter (0.2 euros) 2.0-2.5 lei / liter (0.4-0.5 euros)

MEAT (young cattle / 400 kg live weight) 5-6 lei / kg / alive (1.2 euros) Minimum 10 lei / kg - alive

(~ 2.2 euros)

5. Education- foragri-economic specificity of mountain environment and lifestyle - is a prerequisite.

Required:

- Training of students/agricultural specialists on mountainagri-economic specificity

- Establishment of mountain agricultural vocational schools

- Secondary schools in mountain rural area (more than 500);introduction ofsubject and book of "mountain rural economy"

- All types of continuous education for mountain farmers

- Brochures, agri-mountain calendars, radio, TV, Internet.

Fig. 12: Dorna Candrenilor vocational Fig. 13: Practical demonstration for young mountain agricultural highschool farmers

6. Research (Suggestions)

• Determination of high quality of dairy and meat products, based on mountain poliflora (started in 2011 -USAMV Timisoara, RMF, FAM-Dorna, CEMONT. Incomplete - lack of financial support).

• Differentiated bio-chemical and social-economic complex studies, at the level of traditional mountain bio-areas.

• Complete technologies to achieve the quality of organic fertilizers - in mountain family farms (manure, purina) and the optimal use in vegetal production.

• Deciding upon the geo-climatic and economic differentiations, by degree and groups of disadvantages, at the level of traditional bio-areas and mountain communities (see Switzerland, Austria, etc.).

Conclusions

• Demographic growth, rampant (towards 11 billion people - in XXI Century) and the effects of climate changes, causes sharp increase of the importance of mountain areas for the production of food and uptake of carbon (the role of meadows alongside the role of forests).

• Guidelines of European Commission's recent CAP/2014-2020 aim to support medium and small farms (family farms) - with focus and differentiation in favor of mountain agri-livestock economy.

• Conservation of valuable mountain natural fodder flora and its improvement, based on organic fertilizers - is a purpose and a priority, very urgent (the phenomenon of flora "turning wild again" is extremely expensive to recover, depending on the setting of young generations that are willing to continue to breed animals).

• Better capitalization of "mountain products" in associative-cooperative system and the motivation of producers and young mountain farmers to ensure continuity and modernization of traditions - are prerequisites and opportunities for 2014-2020.

• The breeders of ruminant livestock and the polifloral mountain grasslands are first-order factors for today and for the future, in close connection with the cultural and spiritual traditions of the Romanian people from the Carpathians and a guarantee of continuity beneficial for the Romanian and European society.

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