Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Farming

Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Farming

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If you are looking to find out the differences between intensive and extensive farming look no further, because in this article we will tell you everything you need to know about them.

The main differences are in the level of input and production per square unit of agricultural land, region population, location, land, output, and how it impacts the environment.

In the rest of the article we will go into details about the difference between intensive and extensive farming, so continue reading to find out more.

Difference between Intensive and Extensive farming

ParametersIntensive FarmingExtensive Farming
MeaningIntensive farming is a type of agriculture, arable farming and animal husbandry, with a higher level of input and production per square unit of agricultural land area.Extensive agriculture is a farming system that uses a small amount of labor and capital relative to the area under cultivation. Crop yields in extensive agriculture depend primarily on the soil’s natural fertility, relief, climate and water availability.
PopulationDensely populated regionModerately populated region
LocationClose to marketsRemote location. Far from market
Farming LandSmall and expensive agriculture system within a densely populated areaLarge and inexpensive farming technique practiced in a moderately populated area

Intensive Farming

Intensive farming, also known as intensive agriculture and industrial agriculture (as opposed to extensive agriculture) is a type of agriculture, arable farming, and animal husbandry, with a higher level of input and production per square unit of agricultural land area. It is characterized by low tillage, higher use of inputs such as capital and labor, and higher crop yields per unit area of ​​land.

Most commercial agriculture is intensive in one or more ways. Forms that rely heavily on industrial methods are often referred to as industrial agriculture, characterized by innovation aimed at increasing yields. Techniques include planting more crops per year, reducing the frequency of years of land rest, and improving cultivars.

Also included are increased use of fertilizers, plant, and pesticide growth regulators, and mechanized agriculture, under the control of increased and more detailed analyzes of growing conditions, including weather, soil, water, weeds, and pests.

This system is supported by continuous innovations in agricultural machinery and farming methods, genetic technology, techniques for achieving economies of scale, logistics, and technology for data collection and analysis.

Intensive farms are widespread in developed countries and are becoming more widespread worldwide. Most of the meat, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables in supermarkets are produced by such farms.

Some intensive farms may use sustainable methods, although this may require higher labor inputs or lower yields.

Intensive animal husbandry involves a large number of animals raised on limited land, for example by rotational grazing, or in the western world sometimes as farms with concentrated animal nutrition.

These methods increase the yield of food and fiber per acre compared to extensive livestock; the concentrated feed is brought to animals that are rarely moved, or by rotational grazing, the animals are repeatedly moved to fresh food.

Techniques and technologies

Pasture intensification

Pasture intensification is the improvement of pasture and grass soil to maximize the potential of food production in livestock systems.

This is commonly used to reverse pasture degradation, a process characterized by forage loss and reduced animal carrying capacity resulting from overgrazing, poor nutrient management, and lack of soil conservation.

This degradation leads to poor grazing land with reduced fertility and water availability and increased rates of erosion, degradation, and acidification. Degraded pastures have significantly lower productivity and higher carbon footprints compared to intensified pastures.

Extensive Farming

Extensive agriculture is a farming system that uses a small amount of labor and capital relative to the area being cultivated. Crop yields in extensive agriculture depend primarily on the soil’s natural fertility, relief, climate, and water availability.

An extensive farming production system, compared to intensive farming, requires a large amount of labor, but much less investment in the processing, application of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. This results in lower agricultural yields and the need to use larger production areas to pay off food production.

Therefore, extensive agricultural production is cost-effective in the production of labor-intensive crops (eg strawberries), in areas where population density is low and the market value of land is low relative to labor and capital. Otherwise, an extensive food production system is necessarily more expensive than intensive agriculture.

Management of extensive farming production systems is often characterized by resistance to new insights, innovations, and advancements, and their productivity is low and very slowly changing.

What does Extensive Farming really mean? It is a production that does not force high production results using artificial fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, insecticides, etc. Some of the other names for it are organic and eco-farming.

This is when cows are free to graze, pigs are free to move and can graze in the mud, poultry roams the earth and catches earthworms and snails. Fruits and vegetables are not sprayed and have the almost forgotten taste that many of us have remembered as the taste of the products we once received from relatives from the countryside.

One of the basic postulates of organic farming is animal welfare, that is, a breeding method that will not force animals to the extreme of their potential, which prohibits the use of antibiotics and hormones, confinement and restraint of animals. The obligation is that animals have the freedom of movement and the ability to exhibit natural forms of behavior, that is, a behavior characteristic of the species.

Unfortunately, as we all know, intensive farming is more and more used, it is faster, brings more results, and profit is much bigger. Downsides are products that are of worse quality and don’t even taste like real food anymore.