Castile and León Primary sector


The fields of Castile and Leon are arid and dry although very fertile, predominating in them the dryland farming. Despite this, irrigation has been gaining importance in the areas of the valleys of Douro, Esla, Órbigo, Pisuerga and Tormes. The scarce orography and the improvement of communications has favored the entry of technical innovations throughout the process of agricultural production, especially in areas such as the province of Valladolid or the province of Burgos where the production per hectare is one of the highest in Spain. The most fertile Castilian-Leonese area coincides with the Esla valley, in León, in the fields of Valladolid and Tierra de Campos, a district that extends between province of Zamora, province of Valladolid, province of Palencia and province of León.

Use of arable land

Castile and León has an agricultural area close to 5,783,831 hectares, which is more than half of the total area of its total territory. Most of the farmland is dryland, due to the climate and the low rainfall. Only 10% of the area is irrigated, with plots of intensive production, much more profitable than dryland crops.

Despite the decline of the population in rural areas, the Castilian-Leonese agricultural production still represents 15% of the Spanish primary sector and its average occupation is lower than that of other autonomous communities.

Types of crop

Castile and León constitutes one of the main Spanish cereal areas. As the popular saying says: “Castile, granary of Spain”. Although the most traditional crop was wheat, the production of barley has gained ground since the 1960s. These two cereals are followed, in number of hectares cultivated and volume of production, rye and oats. In addition to legumes, such as carob and chickpeas, sunflower cultivation has spread in the southern countryside.

The vineyard (56,337 ha) saw the number of hectares cultivated during the last three decades of the 20th century decrease considerably; However, the application of the most modern aging techniques has notably improved the Castilian-Leonese wines, which compete in quality with those of La Rioja and begin to be known outside the Spanish borders. The main viticultural areas of the region are Ribera del Duero (DO), Rueda (DO), Toro (DO), Bierzo (DO), Arribes (DO) and Tierra de León (DO). Irrigated land is planted with sugar beet, a product that has been subsidized by the regional authorities, potatoes, alfalfa and vegetables. In the province of León, corn, hops and legumes are also sown.


Livestock represents an important part of the final agricultural production. Next to the small livestock units, which proliferate in the regions of pre-eminent agricultural dedication or in the mountain areas, now appears a modern livestock activity, with cattle, pig and sheep farms, of development. These farms are oriented both to the production of meat and to the supply of milk to the cooperatives that channel their subsequent commercialization, since the dairy production of Castile and León -more than one and a half million liters per year- is the second largest in Spain, only surpassed by Galicia.

Thus, small livestock farms tend to disappear, largely due to the effect of rural depopulation and the consequent loss of labor. Transhumant grazing is conserved in some areas; large herds, mainly sheep, travel every year hundreds of kilometers from the flat lands to the land with mountain pastures as in the El Bierzo, the Cantabrian valleys of province of León, the sierra de Gredos or Picos de Urbión. It is hard work that every time has less labor, having previously constituted a testimony of first importance on the history and cultural roots of the Castilian and Leonese people.

The sheep herd is the most numerous, with 5,425,000 heads, followed by domestic pig (2,800,000) and cattle (1,200,000). A long way away is the goats (166,200 heads) and horses (71,700 horses, mules and donkeys). The highest production of meat corresponds to that of pigs (241,700 t), followed by bovine (89,400 t) and poultry (66,000 t); in wool production Castile and León leads the national balance with 7,500 t. Within the section of Protected Geographical indication (I.G.P), highlights Lechazo de Castilla y León, based in Aranda de Duero.

Forest exploitation

In Castile and León there are about 1,900,000 hectares of non-arboreal, representing 40% of the total forest area. This deforestation is mainly due to the hand of the man who, over the centuries, has made forests disappear, giving way to areas of non-arboreal vegetation. Little by little, with the abandonment of rural areas and the reforestation policy of the Castilian and Leonese governments, this situation has been reversed.

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