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Press release 01/31/2012


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Approximately a third of cattle, horse and goats graze on common land

17% of holdings with grazing animals make use of pasture on common land

In the Basque Country, of the 10,314 holdings with grazing animals, 17%, which amounts to 128,333 head, make use of common pasture land, according to Eustat data. Notwithstanding, there are large differences between the Provinces: in Álava common pasture-land is employed by 45% of holdings, whilst in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa this figure stands at 17% and 9%, respectively.

Use of common pasture-land by type of livestock

Common grazing lands are used to a greater degree by those holdings with cattle, goats or horses and such holdings are larger than those that do not employ common land, which is particularly true in the case of holdings with goats and horses. 20% of holdings with cattle, which represent 35% of the total head, use these pasture-lands, whilst 21% of those with horses do the same, accounting for 34% of the total heads of horses.

Amongst bovine herds, free-stall housing with semi-liquid manure collection is the option commonly found in the largest holdings

The number of holdings with stabled cattle stands at 6037 with a total of 149,750 stalls, which translates to an average of almost 25 stalls per holding. In Álava, this ratio ascends to 54 stalls, whilst in Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia it stands at approximately 20.

Free-stall housing with semi-liquid manure or liquid manure collection systems is present in 10% of holdings and account for 23% of stalls. The majority of holdings (69%) have “other type of housing”, although such housing is typically found in those of a smaller size. In general, amongst bovine cattle, no notable differences in housing are found between the provinces.

Cattle housing

The 909 pig farm holdings boast 14,257 stalls, an average of 16 stalls per holding. 43% of the pig stalls, taking in 78% of the holdings, entail “other types of stables”, a stable type that is predominant amongst small holdings and mainly found in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. Furthermore, housing with completely slatted flooring (38% of stalls) is also noteworthy. This takes in the largest holdings (3% of the holdings and 176 stalls per holding) and is the predominant option in terms of stalls in Álava (68% of stalls).

Irrigation via sprinklers is the most common type in Álava, whilst in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa localised irrigation Systems are most commonly employed

Irrigated land in the Basque Country amounts to 7322 ha, representing 12% of the land taken in by herbaceous cultivations. Álava is the province wherein, as a result of its climatological conditions, we find the highest proportion of this type of land (6371 ha), although, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa are noteworthy as the provinces with the highest percentage of horticultural cultivations.

Localised irrigation is the method most commonly employed in agricultural holdings (74%); however, irrigation via sprinklers is the most common in terms of irrigated land (75%). 83% of the irrigated land in Álava was irrigated via sprinklers. In Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia localised irrigation is noteworthy, taking in 52% and 42% of irrigated land, respectively. In these provinces, the use of gravity irrigation also bears mention.

Irrigation methods in holdings with land

Organic fertilizer is applied in 18% of the useable agricultural land, a percentage that rises to 25% in the case of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa

In 39% of the registered holdings organic fertilizer is employed, whilst 18% of the useable agricultural land employs this type of fertilizer. Here, we find notable differences between the provinces: whilst 18% of the useable agricultural land in Álava receives this type of fertilizer, this percentage rises to 25% in the case of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa.

Fertilised land

With regards to the type of organic fertilizer applied, solid manure is applied in 64% of the holding and semi-liquid manure in the remaining 39%. However, with regards to the land receiving one or other type of organic fertilizer, the percentages are more balanced (53% with solid fertilizer and 47% with semi-liquid fertilizer). By province, in Álava and Bizkaia the use of solid manure is predominant, whilst in Gipuzkoa, attention should be drawn to semi-liquid manure in terms of land area.

The techniques of Minimum Tillage and Direct Planting are still employed in only 6% and 2%, respectively, of land given over to herbaceous cultivations

Conventional tillage is the method that is most extensive in herbaceous cultivations, both in terms of the number of holdings and the land taken in. Specifically, 92% of the land (50,007 ha) and 93% of the holdings (5653 holdings) with herbaceous plants employ this method, whilst minimum tillage and direct planting account for no more than 6% and 2%, respectively.

Land given over to winter crops represents 63% of total herbaceous cultivations, a practice that also ensures that the land is covered during the winter

Amongst actions for soil conservation, coverage via winter crops is the most predominant option (63% of land). The remaining procedures of winter coverage (“cover crops or intermediate crops” and “plant waste”) are employed in an anecdotal 0.7% of land. In 36% of land, no action is undertaken to protect the soil during winter.


Methodological note: This operation was carried out in collaboration with the National Statistics Institute (INE) in the Basque Country and the Basque Government’s Ministry for the Environment, Territorial Planning, Agriculture and Fishing.

Research was carried out in the first quarter of 2010, via interviews with the title-holders of the agricultural holdings registered in 2009 Agricultural Census of the Basque Country.

The data refers to the 2009 agricultural year, that is, the campaign spanning between the 1st of October 2008 and the 30th of September 2009.

The main characteristics that were researched are as follows:

- For holdings with land: variables complementing the irrigated land in the Census (average useable agricultural land irrigated in the last three years, irrigated land according to method, the source of irrigation water and the irrigation water management system), the maintenance of landscape elements, tillage, soil conservation actions and the use of fertilizer and fertilizer techniques.

- For holdings with cattle: bovine, pig and egg-laying hen housing; the use of pasture-lands and installations for the storage of natural fertilizers of animal origin.

For further information:

Basque Statistics Office C/ Donostia-San Sebastian, 1 01010 Vitoria-Gasteiz Tlf:+34-945-01 75 00 Fax:+34-945-01 75 01 E-mail: eustat@eustat.es Contact: Mariano Gonzalez Izquierdo Tlf:+34-945-01 75 42 Fax:+34-945-01 75 01

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Approximately a third of cattle, horse and goats graze on common land

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