Speaking amidst a field of sunflowers near the Black Sea coast in Romania, third-generation farmer Celzin Aedin said, “To be a successful farmer is really hard. That’s the part that’s not really understood by many people. There are many farmers in Romania, but to succeed requires taking lots of risks. Decisions can be extremely difficult. You have to be in the fields all the time, and you have to pay a lot of attention to the crops.”
Nevertheless Celzin loves his life as a farmer. “The most beautiful thing about the farm is waking up in the morning and walking along the road, through the forest and smelling that fresh smell. Admiring the landscape, seeing the birds next to the road, the animals, and watching the sunrise.
“Apart from agriculture, I could not think of doing anything else. It’s the only thing I like, and I’m happy doing it. Thinking that after my work in the field that I can feed thousands and thousands of people…That’s why I think I couldn’t let this job go. It’s the only thing that I like to do.”
Celzin’s farm is in Osmancea, one of the most arid areas of Romania. Precipitation in Constanta County, located on the Cobadin Plateau averages just 400 millimetres per year.
Despite the challenges, Celzin has exceeded all expectations, and his farm has been recognised for record Romanian yields by SC Micul Agricultor Srl.
He grows wheat, along with barley, corn, sunflower and rapeseed. “We don’t have rapeseed every year. It depends on the rainfall. Rapeseed is a very risky crop.” A big enemy of rapeseed is a disease called ‘blackleg’ that is caused by a fungus.
In fact, each of his crops faces a variety of pests and diseases, not all of them the same. For example, Celzin said his wheat crop is susceptible to a fungal leaf spot disease called septoria. In barley he has to be careful for tearing of the leaves due to pests. And he constantly keeps an eye out for other diseases in his fields of corn and sunflower.
“In the case of spontaneous disease or plague, we intervene immediately. If we leave it to the next day, we risk losing it all in one night.”
The farm, one of the largest in the area, has always relied on pesticides, and for generations the farm has been implementing IPM. Celzin’s grandfather applied IPM from the very first year. “In our farm, pesticides play a very important role and are absolutely necessary to achieve high production. Without them, I do not think we could produce what we are doing now. If we were not using pesticides, we could lose between 50 and 70 percent of our current production,” Celzin said. “And a loss like that is out of the question.”
As important as pesticides are to his crops, Celzin explains that farmers are very meticulous when applying them. And contrary to popular belief, farmers only use pesticides when necessary. “I have to use the right pesticides at the approved dose, on the approved crops and at the right time. I do not apply pesticides too soon or too late… and never without a specific purpose,” Celzin said. “In fact I want to apply as few plant protection products as possible.”