Difference Between Subsistence Farming And Intensive Farming

Difference Between Subsistence Farming And Intensive Farming

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Nowadays there are more and more different ways on how to approach farming. The goal is always the same – get the best product there is. Some of the farming options are subsistence farming and intensive farming. What must you know about the difference between subsistence farming and intensive farming if you want to be a farmer?

There are a lot of differences between subsistence and intensive farming. Some of them are the use of fertilizers and pesticides or not, the use of modern farming techniques or not, the use of a wide variety of seeds or the use of poorly seeds, and more.

There is more and more technology being incorporated into modern farming nowadays. But still, there are some farmers that use the old and more traditional techniques with their farming. There are some benefits to both intensive and subsistence farming. Most commercial agriculture is intensive farming, and subsistence farming is reserved for families to grow their own food.

What Is Subsistence Farming?

Difference Between Subsistence Farming And Intensive Farming

Under the term of subsistence farming, one considers a self-sufficiency farming system in which farmers grow their food to feed themselves and their families. They focus on getting enough food using more traditional techniques that can sometimes result in poorer results.

The output of subsistence farming is mostly for local requirements, and include little or no surplus trade. Some people decide on subsistence farming so they could simply provide good and organic, high-quality food to their families and children.

It is important to mention that subsistence farming usually doesn’t use any chemical pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones, because these substances cause a lot of damage to the human body, and food loses its real taste as well.

Subsistence farming is a farming option for smaller farms or even family houses. For example, subsistence farming can be growing food for your family’s direct consumption. That can be a backyard garden, including fruits, starch crops, and animals as well.

What Is Intensive Farming?  

Intensive farming or intensive agriculture and industrial culture is a type of agriculture, arable farming, and animal husbandry that enables a higher level of input and production per square unit of the agricultural land area. Intensive farming is characterized by low tillage, higher use of capital and labor, and higher crop yields per unit area of land.

Most commercial farms and agriculture is intensive in one or more ways. Farming that relies on industrial methods is often called industrial agriculture that is characterized by innovation aimed at increasing yields. There are some techniques that characterize this kind of farming and it is planting more crops per year, reducing the frequency of years of land rest, and more. 

Intensive farming includes the increased use of fertilizers, plant, and pesticide growth regulators, and modern, mechanized agriculture as well. This kind of farming includes continuous innovations in agricultural machinery and farming methods. There are also included genetic technology, techniques for achieving economies of scale, logistics, and technology for data collection and analysis.

One must mention that intensive farms are most common in developed countries and are becoming more and more popular worldwide. Most of the products such as meat, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables that are being sold in the supermarkets come to set up such farms.

There are also some intensive farms that may use sustainable methods that require higher labor inputs or lower yields. 

When it comes to animals, intensive animal husbandry involves a large number of animals raised on limited land, for example, in the western world as farms with concentrated animal nutrition. Thanks to these techniques and methods, the yield of food and fiber per acre is increased compared to extensive livestock for example.

What Techniques And Technologies Do They Use?

There are a lot of more modernized techniques and technologies being used when it comes to intensive farming. For example, pasture intensification is the improvement of pasture and grass soil to maximize the potential of food production in livestock systems.

This method is commonly used to reverse pasture degradation which is a process characterized by forage loss and reduced animal carrying capacity. The result of that is from overgrazing, poor nutrient management, and lack of soil conservation as well.

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

What Is The Difference Between Subsistence Farming And Intensive Farming?

Difference Between Subsistence Farming And Intensive Farming
Intensive FarmingSubsistence Farming
Use of fertilizers and pesticidesNo fertilizers or pesticides
Use of irrigationNo irrigation
Very good variety of seedsSeeds of poor quality
Modern farming techniquesNo modern farming techniques
The yield per hectare is high and usually made for profitYield per hectare is much less and just enough to be consumed by that particular family

There are various differences between subsistence and intensive farming concerning the use of technology, and modern farming techniques, the use of fertilizers, and more. Intensive farming is a more modern and high productive kind of farming where subsistence farming uses traditional methods.

Subsistence farming is a type of farming in which generally poor farmers cultivate crops in a very small piece of land. Whereas in intensive farming the farmers cultivate crops in small fields but in a good way, meaning using more modern techniques and incorporate new technologies to better their products.

The farmers that own subsistence farms use no fertilizers or pesticides, whereas the intensive farms use chemical fertilizers to protect their crops and allow better harvest in the end. The subsistence farms can also be home farms or gardens for growing organic food for personal use.

It is important to mention that in subsistence farming the farmers use poor quality seeds, and in intensive farming, there are farmers that use very good quality seeds. These farmers tend to get the best product there is to later sell it and earn money from it.

Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is a kind of farming where a lot of capital and labor are used to increase the yield that can be obtained per area. The intensive farms also use medication for animal stocks whereas the substantive farms don’t use it.

The output in subsistence farming is mostly for local requirements or personal use, as I mentioned before. Opposite to that, the intensive farming the yield per hectare is high and are meant for sale. This type of farming is commercialized and requires a lot of hard work and labor.

There is a lot of money put into intensive farming for the new technologies, the high-quality seeds, the animal stock, and the medication that is required to obtain healthy life and in the end a good product to sell. This type of farming is generally only done for profit.

You can call yourself subsistence farming if you own a backyard vegetable garden and are growing vegetables, fruits, and crops. The vegetables and fruits grown in subsistence farms have no pesticides which result in healthier products in the end.

It is important to mention that the efficient use of fertilizers and pesticides in intensive farming is due to improve the quality of crops. It is important for intensive farms to obtain good products fast and without any diseases so they can sell them and earn money.

One more thing that differs sustenance farming from intensive farming is the irrigation in the field. The subsistence farms don’t do irrigation in the field whereas intensive farming does it. Therefore the production in the subsistence farm is limited, it depends upon the monsoon and fertility of the soil. The intensive farms have better results and usually sell their products to grocery shops and markets.

Both subsistence farming and intensive farming have one in common, and that is the seeding and harvesting of the crops, vegetables, and fruits. If you want to try and become a farmer, choose the type of farming that suits you best. Some enjoy the small farms and organic food, and some want to earn profit from their agricultural knowledge which is also fine.

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