Researches have been carried out within the framework on the EFFICOND Project, focused at evaluating the effectiveness of the standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs) established for Cross Compliance implementation under EC Regulation 1782/2003. In particular the standard 3.1b deals with soil structure protection through appropriate machinery use, with particular reference to ploughing in good soil moisture conditions. The study deals with the evaluation of soil structure after tillage in tilth and no-tilth conditions at soil moisture contents other than the optimum water content for tillage. The Mean Weight Diameter (MWD) of water stable aggregates was used as an indicator of tillage effectiveness. The study was carried out in the period 2008-2009 at six experimental farms belonging to Research Centres and Units of the Italian Agricultural Research Council (CRA) with different pedo-climatic and cropping conditions. Farm management and data collection in the different sites were carried out by the local CRA researchers and technicians. The comparison of MWD values in tilth and no tilth theses showed statistically significant differences in most cases, depending on topsoil texture. On clay, clay loam, silty clay, and silty clay loam topsoils a general and significant increase of MWD values under no tilth conditions were observed. No significant differences were observed in silt loam and sandy loam textures, probably due to the weak soil structure of the topsoils. Moreover, ploughing in good soil moisture condition determined higher crop production and less weed development than ploughing in high soil moisture conditions.
soil moisture conditions, GAEC standard, cross-compliance.