Extensive agriculture

Extensive agriculture
Patches of flowering plants can make a contribution to the extensivisation of use in the farmland biotope. © Hermann/ pixelio.de

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Arable land


Agricultural extensivisation measures include extensive (restriction of intensive crop cultivation, i.e. maize, wheat) and diverse crop rotation (cultivation of at least five different crops per year), reductions in the use of mineral fertilisers and chemical plant protection products, suspension of cultivation during breeding periods, and reduced density of grain sowing. Winter vegetation as well as green strips and patches of flowering plants can make a contribution to the extensivisation of use in the farmland biotope. In the long term, such measures promote the conservation and improvement of ecologically valuable habitats on farmland sites, especially for field breeders and wild herbs on agricultural fields. By upgrading farmland as a habitat, extensivisation measures make an important contribution to the biotope network. Extensively used areas are important insular and stepping stone biotopes, especially in an intensively used agricultural landscape.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Reduction of fragmentation or creation of new valuable habitats Extensivisation increases the permeability of the landscape matrix and thus decreases the possible barrier effects of farmland.
Improvement or preservation of habitats Measures for the extensivisation of agriculture improve habitat quality (species richness) and create buffer zones to areas of intensive use.
Element of ecological network Extensively used areas are important elements of a biotope network. The impact is increased if individual areas are integrated into a network of extensively used spaces (including other biotope types, e.g. meadows).
Other Supports groundwater and soil protection, protection from erosion.
Time of realisation for measure Months: The impact of relevant measures starts soon after implementation.
Impact scope Local (municipality): Local planning of a network of extensively used areas (including grassland) increases the impact of individual extensive areas.


Implementation period Weeks: Extensive management practices can be well-integrated into land-use management. The aim should be to establish long-term strategies (at least 5 years).
Frequency Recurring

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Very low (less than 1'000 EUR): Depending on the measure, subsidies of €50-1000/ha may be available.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Extensivisation of agriculture also enriches landscape appearance and hence its recreational value.
Sources of financing Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Extensivisation measures form part of cultural landscape/countryside management programmes and contractual nature conservation programmes, with appropriate subsidies for specific extensivisation measures.

Further information

Evaluation The provision of support for extensive agriculture is an established part of programmes for the conservation of the cultural landscape and contractual nature conservation programmes. Further information about funding conditions can be obtained from the relevant authorities and nature conservation organisations.
Information Other: All relevant nature conservation and agricultural authorities.

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