Romania Table of Contents
By the mid-1980s, more than 30 percent of the country's 10 million hectares of cropland was irrigated. The remaining 7 million hectares were subject to recurrent and sometimes severe droughts, which were particularly destructive in the southern and eastern regions.
At the same time, large areas of land along the Danube and in its delta were waterlogged, and the government decided to drain much of this marshland and make it arable. The Danube Delta, covering more than 440,000 hectares, was being developed rapidly after 1984. By 1989 some 35,750 hectares had been made arable and large areas of pastureland had been created. By 1990 more than 144,000 hectares of the delta were expected to be useful agricultural land.
Poor crop rotation practices, with corn and wheat sown year after year on the same ground, led to serious depletion of soil nutrients, and supplies of chemical fertilizers were inadequate to restore the lost fertility. In the early 1980s, for example, only thirty-four to thirty-six kilograms of fertilizer were available per acre. Furthermore, much of the best farmland had been severely damaged by prolonged use of outsized machinery, which had compacted the soil, by unsystematic application of agricultural chemicals, and by extensive erosion.
During the first three decades of communist rule, agricultural planners ordered the slaughter of thousands of workhorses, which were to be replaced by more powerful tractors. Indeed, the number of tractors available to agriculture grew from 13,700 in 1950 to 168,000 in 1983. But with the onset of the energy crisis, the regime reversed its policy. A program adopted by the National Council for Agriculture, Food Industry, Forestry, and Water Management in 1986 called for increasing horse inventories by 90,000 head by the end of the decade and reducing the number of tractors in service by nearly one-third. By 1990, according to plans, horse-drawn equipment would perform 18 to 25 percent of all harvesting and virtually all hauling on livestock farms.
Data as of July 1989