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Agriculture is the science and art of growing crops, cultivating the soil, and raising livestock. It also includes the production of animal and plant products to distribute in markets and for people to use.
Agriculture is essential to global society as it provides most of the world with its fabrics and food. Materials such as cotton, leather, and wool are agricultural products. It also provides wood for construction purposes and paper products. Agricultural products and the methods used will differ from one part of the world to another.
There are several types of agriculture like shifting, subsistence, intensive, etc. In this article, we’ll be focusing on intensive vs extensive agriculture.
Intensive agriculture is defined as a technique of agriculture that utilizes large amounts of labor and money to increase the yield of the land. In an industrialized society, intensive agriculture involves using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals to increase the yield, using and acquisition of machinery to grow crops, and aiding in picking and chemical application.
Intensive agriculture reduces the need for a large area of land to grow crops and raise livestock. Few countries, such as Canada and the United States, use intensive agriculture to overproduce agricultural products often as companies want to increase their market share. Further, profits are diminished, so landowners and farmers continue to overproduce to stay economically viable.
Pasture intensification is one of the characteristics of intensive farming. The increase in production and value occurs due to labor, money, pesticides, and pastures. Scholars believe that agricultural and pasture intensification were both important steps in creating the modern society that we live in today. This is because new techniques and equipment in farming and increasing yields allow for large populations to grow.
An example of intensive agriculture is livestock. Most livestock in the United States live most of their lives on industrial factory farms. These factory farms use various intensive methods to overproduce dairy, meat, or eggs for less money. One such intensive technique in animal agriculture is confining the farm animals to small spaces and delivering their food to them. This technique forces the animals to grow bigger more quickly and reduces the need for more area.
Another example is the use of selectively bred animals that grow faster than naturally occurring breeds, allowing the slaughter of many animals in a short time to keep up with human demand. This method often leads to harsh repercussions for the farm animals, such as difficulty in standing, walking, and breathing.
Extensive farming is the farming method or situation where large land areas are available for use. However, the inputs, labor, money, and more are the limiting factors in the productivity equation. In extensive agriculture, the overall cost of production is much more, and the produce is less.
The productivity of the land entirely depends on the fertility of the soil, the location, the climate, etc. Due to this, landowners and farmers will have to work with large areas of their land to earn more income and yields. The total crop yield is high but is less spread over a wider area. That is because extensive farming mostly leads to lower yields per hectare compared to intensive farming- even though the total yields of intensive and extensive farming might be the same. Farmers practicing extensive farming will, thus, have to charge a higher premium per crop.
Examples of extensive agriculture are traditional cultivation practices based on seasonal products. The production is generally based on seasonal produce and integrates lower-input methods. The product is sold to a smaller target market, making extensive agriculture’s GDP much smaller than intensive agriculture. It is also less profitable for farmers.
There are several perks of extensive agriculture. Extensive agriculture is environmentally friendly. Considering the environmental issue the world is facing, extensive agriculture is better. It is also low input, and the natural ecosystem of a region remains safe without the need for protection or conservation.