What is Integrated Production or Integrated Agriculture?

Hello gardeners. Today in Agrohuerto we are going to explain what integrated production is.  We will also see its differences with organic farming, its normative regulation and its evolution in Spain.

What is Integrated Production?

The Integrated Production is a type of agriculture. A form of food production similar to Organic Agriculture.  It has similarities and some differences with organic farming, but it is closer to it than to conventional or intensive agriculture .

Integrated Production is a type of production halfway between intensive and organic agriculture.   It uses compatible techniques aimed at protecting the environment and conserving water, air, soil and landscape. That is why Integrated Production can be the starting point for the «Agroecological Transition» or «Reconversion». (The Reconversion : it is a change in the way of doing agriculture.

It is aimed at achieving the majority practice of Organic or Ecological Agriculture instead of agriculture with intensive methods and the use of chemical or artificial substances).

Due to its environmental benefits, governments and institutions in developed countries promote and regulate this way of farming.

The objective is to one day reach the end of this «reconversion» and achieve a sustainable agriculture that achieves sufficient production but ensuring for the future the diversity of the ecosystem and the conservation of natural resources, while responding to the new social demands regarding the quality of the products (healthier and more natural food) and respect for the environment.

Differences between integrated agriculture and organic farming

The origin of integrated protection is in  the biological fight or integrated fight , which is one of the basic aspects of Organic Agriculture. Like this one, it seeks environmental sustainability. As we have already seen in other posts, the integrated fight is the integration of a set of techniques and actions on crops. It aims to minimize or eliminate the use of chemicals to control pests and diseases.

Unlike what happens in Organic Agriculture , in Integrated Agriculture or Production, the use of artificial chemicals is allowed. Although the minimum use of them is sought and with limits or restrictions set out in the corresponding regulations. In the case of Spain, for example, there are specific Technical Standards for each crop.

The European Union does not have a specific legal framework for Integrated Production.  However, every country that practices it has state or regional standards. If not, it presents standards established by private initiatives that seek to improve agriculture and the environment. Normally all these standards follow the guidelines and definitions established by the OILB (International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control).

Integrated production in Spain

The Integrated Production Spanish is regulated by Royal Decree 1201/2002, of 20 November, the purpose and scope summarized in the following points:

  • Establishment of production standards and general requirements that operators using integrated production systems must meet.
  • The regulation of the use of warranty identifications that differentiate these products to the consumer.
  • The recognition of the groups of integrated production in agriculture for the promotion of said production.
  • The creation of the National Commission for Integrated Production in charge of advising and coordinating on integrated production.

Positive evolution of Spanish integrated production

The environmental awareness of farmers and the promotion of Integrated Agriculture by public and private institutions , has resulted in a large increase in this type of production. In fact, in Spain, Integrated Production has quadrupled in the last ten years. It currently represents 3% of the Spanish agricultural area. You can see this increase in the following image.

Integrated protection for crops in Spain

As for crops, the most produced in Spain through Integrated Agriculture is the olive grove, with more than 400,000 ha. Therefore, the autonomous community with the largest area dedicated to this type of production is Andalusia. This autonomous community exceeds half a million registered hectares. It is followed by Extremadura, with just over 100,000 hectares cultivated according to the canons of Integrated Production.

Well … after you have spoken in other posts of Organic Agriculture and Environment , of Agriculture Natural , of Permaculture … and organic foods   (common in all these currents), has a fundamental resemblance explain me a little is this the Integrated Production since, as we have seen, it is the previous step to reach a mostly organic agriculture and food.

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