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Orgovany Meadows – Rekettye Study Trail

The southern continuation of the Fulophaza Sand Dunes, the Orgovany Meadows (Orgoványi rétek) stretches between the villages Agasegyhaza and Orgovany. The 4000-hectare area has been a nature reserve since 1972, first as protected landscape, and later as part of the Kiskunsag National Park. This diverse landscape is a sampler of all features of the Danube-Tisza Interfluve (Duna-Tisza köze) region. Besides sand dunes, the area includes reedbeds, wetlands, and saline grasslands. Its vegetation is a transition between that of the Fulophaza and the Bugac sand dunes. Various types of orchids, the Large/Fringed Pink (Dianthus superbus; buglyos szegfű), and the Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe; kornistárnics) can also be found here.

Those interested in learning more about the Orgovany Meadows and the local culture are invited for a walk on the Rekettye (Moorland) Study Trail leaving from Agasegyhaza, or the Pimpo (Cinquefoil) Study Trail leaving from Orgovany. The study trails are marked by a white arrow, and the hiking trail linking the two study trails between Agasegyhaza and Orgovany is marked with a red square. (The red square hiking trail branches off the red stripe trail at Agasegyhaza, near the Sandortelep School.)

Information boards with maps can be found in Agasegyhaza, in front of the school, and in the village center in Orgovany, in front of the Community Center (Művelődési ház).

Rekettye Study Trail – Agasegyhaza

The six stations of the Rekettye Study Trail introduce the geological evolution of the Orgovany Meadows, its land surface, its flora and fauna, as well as the rural life on the characteristic local homesteads (tanya).
  • Length: 2,3 km
  • Type: w/ information boards
  • Languages: Hungarian, English
  • Trail mark: red square
  • Available: year round; pedestrians, bicycles

Agasegyhaza is a locality 16 km South-West of Kecskemet, and it can be reached from Kecskemet by bus. We can reach Sandortelep, the first station of the Rekettye study trail by following the red stripe trail. The study trail leaves from the last building of Agasegyhaza-Sandortelep, 4.7 km from the information board placed in front of the school in Agasegyhaza.

Start of the Rekettye Study Trail: Orgovany Meadows, Agasegyhaza, Hungary Stations
  1. Orgovany Meadows
  2. Geoevolution and land surface of the Orgovany Meadows
  3. Homestead farming
  4. Water conditions of the region
  5. Characteristic vegetation
  6. Birdlife of the meadows

1. Orgovany Meadows

Part of the Kiskunsag National Park, Orgovany Meadows encompasses the Agasegyhaza and Orgovany Meadows as well as the saline grasslands (szikes) of Csira-szek, and the western sand dunes 105-125 meters above sea level: Sashegy 121 m, Vaskapu 120 m, Hollos-halom 123 m.

At the eastern part o the 20 km long Kunadacs-Orgovany sand dune, we can see several extensive flats. The 5-10 km long, 2-3 km wide hollows running NW – SE are filled with saline lakes (like Kondor-tó and Csíra-szék, for example) and marshes (Ágasegyházi-rét, Orgoványi-rét). The erstwhile wetlands partially dried out, due to the artificial channels formed to drain inland inundation.

The patchwork of lakes, old-time stone quarries, reedbeds, marshes, grasslands, forests, ploughlands, vineyards, and orchards reflects a traditional lifestyle honoring nature’s resources available on the land and below the ground.

2. Geoevolution and land surface of the Orgovany Meadows

The protected landscape is part of the Danube-Tisza Interfluve Ridge (Duna-Tisza közi Hátság). The Ridge is the most expansive sandland of the country, with an area of 7,500 km2. Near the surface, we can find tens of meters thick wind-laid sediment: alternating layers of shifting sand and loess. This stratification mirrors periodic changes in climate on the geologic time scale: the loess deposits reflect the cold, dry periods of the glaciation, and the shifting sand was laid by the wind during the warmer periods of the Pleistocene epoch. The NW – SE direction of the sand dunes corresponds with the dominant wind direction.

The sand comes from the previous alluvium of the Danube. At the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch, the Danube ran diagonally on the Danube-Tisza Interfluve, however, for over half a million years now it flows in its present N – S direction. It is from this time on that the wind-laid sediment accumulated on the ridge, including the Agasegyhaza and Orgovany region.

3. Homestead farming

The area is a typical homestead farming region. We can still see many inhabited or vacant homesteads built on high ground, in the meeting zone of the dryer mounds and the wetlands. This type of homestead farming started with the repopulation of the Kiskunsag (Small Cumania) following the devastation during the Turkish occupation.

Homestead farming organically adapted to the natural conditions in the area. Besides animal husbandry, the locals also cultivated the land surrounding the homestead, and they planted trees by the road leading to the residence, thus protecting it from the wind.

The home and the farm buildings were complemented by shops, barns, and sheds necessary for animal husbandry. Near the homestead there would normally be a meadow, pasture, adobe hole, vineyard, orchard, and a garden as well. The groups of trees around the homestead provided shade for animals and humans alike, and often they provided firewood in the winter. On occasion, the mulberries growing in the yard supplied feed for the fowl and the pigs.

The social changes of the 1960s suppressed homestead farming so much so that one of the challenges of our days is to preserve the one-time architectural forms of the ranch, and to maintain the remaining farmsteads.

4. Water conditions of the region

The flats of the Agasegyhaza and Orgovany meadows used to be shallow lakes, fed by precipitation, surface water coming from the highlands, and groundwater. The carbonate silt, limestone sediments, and the saline clay soils near the ground surface formed a watertight layer.

The Kolon Lake artificial canal system created in the 1960s lead to the diversion of the surface water and a drop in the groundwater levels. The set of lake basins were connected, and their waters indirectly channeled into the Danube. The persistent drought significantly changed the once wet and watery habitat. The surroundings of the erstwhile lakes are now replaced by desiccating wetland meadows and saline grasslands.

5. Characteristic vegetation

The region’s vegetation is determined by its soil, and water- and weather conditions. The earlier good water supply created reedbeds, tall sedge (Carex appressa; magassás) and tussock sedge (Carex stricta; zsombéksás) communities on the lowlands. On the Agasegyhaza Meadows, wetland meadows and tussocky fields turned into various types of willow scrub (willow moor; rekettyefüzes) wetlands.

On the fields seasonally saturated with water persistent- and drying out wetland meadows dominate, but due to the drought, saline grassland vegetation can also be found here.

The late moorlands were replaced by creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera; fehér tippan) fields. In the vicinity of these, where the groundwater is lower, we can find grasslands with meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis; réti csenkesz) and tall oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius; franciaperje). The higher grounds are characterized by communities of arid zone sand grass (száraz homoki gyep).

Agasegyhaza Meadows, Hungary
6. Birdlife of the meadows
  • Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus; ugartyúk)
  • White Stork (Ciconia ciconia; fehér gólya)
  • Great Bustard (Otis tarda; túzok)
  • Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor; kis őrgébics)
  • Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus; barna rétihéja)
  • Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus; vörös vércse)
  • Short-toed Snake-Eagle (Circaetus gallicus; kígyászölyv)
Here, at the last station of the study trail, we can find an observation tower from which we can see the panorama of the Orgovany Meadows, the wide puszta laced with wetland meadows and forests.

Source: Kiskunsag National Park

More information

Kiskunsagi National Park Directorate
House of Nature
6000 Kecskemet, Liszt F. u. 19

Phone: +36-76-501-594