La Higueruela Experimental Field Station

Finca experimental de La Higueruela, estación biológica del MNCN.

La Higueruela Experimetal Field Station (HEFS) has an extension of 90 ha, and is located at 80 km from Madrid (N 40° 3'21.80" / W 4°25'31.13") 486m asl. The area is characteristic of semiarid Mediterranean environments that are almost exceptional among experimental field stations.

La Higueruela Field Station is invaluable for the study of the different processes that create, produce and maintain diversity, sustainable use of natural resources, ecological restoration, recovery of degraded soils and water systems, and to analyze the influence of global change on our environment.

Cultivos experimentales en La Higueruela, estación biológica del MNCN

La Higueruela was created in 1972 as part of "Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales", now extinct, to survey and protect the biodiversity, study the adaptation of organisms to this semiarid environment, as well as experimental sustainable agriculture. Since 2011 La Higueruela became part of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales with a great potential to be useful for Natural Resources objectives related to semiarid Mediterranean environments.


La Higueruela, estación biológica del MNCNThe agricultural origin of La Higueruela has a positive legacy. The field station has collected climatic parameters obtained from the weather station installed in La Higueruela, working at real time, with a complete historical information recorded in the last 40 years about climatic cycles and trends. There is also a complete description of soil chemistry and edaphic horizons certainly valuable. Farming areas persist in La Higueruela together with abandoned fallow domains that are available for experiments in natural.

Cooperation between LIFE projects:

Project partners "LIFE10 ENV/ES/471 Traditional crops" and "LIFE 11 ENV/ES/535 CO2 Operation" in May 2015 visited the "La Higueruela" field station, in order to cooperate and exchange experiences. YoutubeSee the video  

Long term experiments in progress (running already for 20 years):

• Ecological Management of agroecosystems of cereals: rotations, flora arvense and fertilization.
• Interaction of weeding and fertilization in Ecological Farming
• Conservation Agriculture in herbaceous farming.
• Use of different natural sources of organic matter. 
• Cultivation of the pistachio trees (Pistacia vera). An alternative crop for the climate change. 
• Different planting densities and cereal crop rotations. 
• Recovery of financial mismanagement in traditional arable crops. In lines grouped planting, weeding with harrow 
• Green fallow land. 
• Ecological Succession on abandoned agricultural land of cultivation with reforested areas. 
• Implementation of perimeter fences to regenerate biodiversity and erosion control.
• Cultivation in bands in areas of slope following the level curves and reinstalled with shrub vegetation for erosion control.

Experiments at La Higueruela

Permanent stations:

• Station for the study of air pollution and its impact on ecosystems. 
• Taphonomic Station. 
• Station for the study of climate change 
• Station for the study of the diversity in abandoned areas of cultivation. 
• Station for the study of erosion and soil degradation in Mediterranean ecosystems of environments.

Experiments are constantly and closely surveyed by the staff of the field station. La Higueruela also counts with a recently built facilitates to organize working meetings, workshops and visits.

The wide extension of this experimental field, the diversity of installations, a wide variety of soils and topography, natural fauna and flora and most importantly, the characteristic semiarid environments give to La Higueruela a special value for short, medium and long term experiments for Natural Resources.

Summary of the scientific activity in the Station:


Activity TOTAL
Publications SCI or Peer Reviewed                       157
Publications no SCI   80
Books and chapters of books 283
Doctoral Theses   32
PhD in progress     6
Patents     5
Patents in progress     2
Awards to investigation     6
Projects of Investigation   98
Contracts     3
Experimental projects  18
Involved Researchers 333


Technical advisor: Carlos Lacasta Dutoit
Scientist in charge: Yolanda Fernández Jalvo