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1. Route of agriculture

1. Route of agriculture

It begins at the link between the N-321 Loja – Priego and the rural road that leaves for the plains of “El Raso” passing through a group of farmhouses that are articulated by the Vía Pecuaria. After several crossings that go north and that are left on the right and after crossing the “Arroyo Palancar”, it turns towards the “Raso Alto y Bajo” haciendas, to head gently towards the lands of Palancar. Here the itinerary intersects the local highway Algarinejo – Fuentes de Cesna, the end point of the route and the beginning of Route 10 (Ruta de la Frontera). If we continue for about 700 m along the road in an easterly direction, we will connect with a path on the right hand side of the NO2 highway that goes towards the “Molino de Chicurro” and the “Río Pesquera” (Route 4).

Rainfed crops in El Raso

The route takes place through the medium-high mountains of the Subbética geological zone that surround the “El Raso” depression and the tributary basins of the central area of the Pesquera river. In it we can see a gallery forest in a good state of conservation dominated by poplars, rushes, bulrush, brambles, hawthorns, false broom and barberry. In the “Arroyo Palancar” basin, there are also patches of Mediterranean forest that alternate with crops, highlighting groves of hundred-year-old gall oaks (Q.faginea) in the most humid areas. A singular botanical enclave is “El Raso Bajo”, 150 m east of the farmhouses, where 6-7 specimens of spectacular dimensions are located.
Striking presence of a diverse fauna, both in herpetos (Culebra Bastarda, Culebra de Escalera), mustelid and carnivorous mammals (Weasel, Badger, Genet, and the scarce Mongoose), Common Hare and Red Partridge, numerous finches and insectivorous birds in wooded areas , as well as in birds of prey (Royal Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture and Honey Buzzard in migration). In the streams there is Boga (in decline), Gypsy Barb and Fang, and several species of waterfowl: Gray Heron, Coot, Common Redfish and Mallard, easily observed in their frequent movements towards nocturnal roosts or to feed.

General view of the Palancar.

Rainfed agriculture in the “El Raso” Depression and irrigation of the fertile plains of the streams has been the main human activity in this area, especially suitable for the quality of the soils and very flat landforms. In the III millennium BC, the first farmers in the region began the exploitation of herbaceous crops (fodder for livestock and various cereals), seasonally alternating their cultivation with legumes (lentils, broad beans, chickpeas, etc.) in order to avoid depleting the soil. . Livestock was integrated for the use of stubble and provided a sufficient amount of organic matter to close the agricultural cycle of nutrients.
This model was maintained until the 20th century when the introduction of chemical fertilizers began to alter historical practices, although traditional techniques and a remarkable quality of horticultural products can still be perceived in this area. As an area of great interest for agricultural exploitation, there are numerous farmhouses in an excellent state of conservation, highlighting the “Raso Alto” and the “Raso Bajo”, large farms with attached habitat whose origin must be related to the distribution during the 16th century.
of plots of land granted to the new Castilian settlers after the conquest of the kingdom of Granada.

Cortijo El Raso Bajo