Extensive agriculture is dedicated to the production of crops by taking advantage of the natural resources available in the field. It is usually carried out on big surface areas and it combines nature's resources with agricultural techniques. All of these characteristics lead to a result in extensive agriculture where production per hectare is lower than that of intensive agriculture. The combination of natural resources and agricultural techniques requires little labour force and machinery.
Another aspect of extensive agriculture is has less impact it has in its surroundings than intensive agriculture, which makes it more sustainable in the long term. This type of agriculture is also used as a resource in many places to prevent eutrophication (excessive accumulation of water) so it protects the environment. Finally, extensive agriculture is known for not having great irrigation infrastructures which makes it an alternative for saving water and reduces risk of desertification.
One of the main differences between extensive and intensive agriculture is the types of crops used in each system, since some species adapt better to one than the other. For instance, some of the crops cultivated extensively are:
- The Cereals, specially oat, wheat, barley and rye.
- Las Pulses, such as chickpeas and greenpeas.
- Some fruit trees, such as olive trees and almond trees.
- La Vine, which is one of the most usual in the Mediterranean area.
- Some fruits and vegetables, such as onions and cantaloupes.
A great part of extensive agriculture crops are cultivated in dry farming, and takes advantage of the water resources that nature offers for vegetable development. An analysis of extensive agriculture in Spain is directly related to three main crops, characteristic of the country: cereals, vine and olive.
Plantae in Extensive Crops
What does Plantae contribute to extensive agriculture?
Extensive agriculture is characterised because crops are often subjected to a great hydric stress because it only receives water from the rain, or support irrigation in the drier years. Therefore, it is essential to know the amount of water that the plant receives during the cropping cycle to make sure that a water deficit won't cause harvesting losses in an already low production.
In the other hand, soil in this type of agriculture is submitted to strong humidity fluctuations. This implies a variation in the soil's salt concentration that has a direct impact on its structure. Therefore, the formation or tear of the aggregates due to salt movement will change the water's behavior in the soil and the plants' ability to absorb water and mobilize nutrients. Therefore, knowing the soil's moisture, salt concentrations and even temperature is important to understand the conditions under which the crop finds itself and prepare measures that protect production based on the field's reality.
At Plantae, we are aware that these decisions involve a critical moment in the design of the productive plan, therefore we offer the necessary tools to guide the irrigation management towards the optimum point. The Plantae station's readings provide with the necessary data on which to base the irrigation program. Each reading has its function:
- Humidity:change the irrigation cycles based on each reading to give the crops the exact water it needs: quantity, frequency, duration
- Conductivity:keep the soil's salinity levels below the detrimental thresholds for the crops.
- Temperature:: actuación frente a heladas y control de otros parámetros (plagas, fenología…).
- Subsoil temperature:control of the soil's temperature and correlation with the surface temperature.
- Flowmeter: irrigation monitoring, irrigators control, incidence localisation...