Intensive farming

Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming) and industrial agriculture, is a type of agriculture, both of crop plants and of animals, with higher levels of input and output per unit of agricultural land area. It is characterized by a low fallow ratio, higher use of inputs such as capital and labour, and higher crop yields per unit land area.[1]

Intensive farming of wheat in Lund, Sweden

Most commercial agriculture is intensive in one or more ways. Forms that rely heavily on industrial methods are often called industrial agriculture, which is characterised by innovations designed to increase yield. Techniques include planting multiple crops per year, reducing the frequency of fallow years, and improving cultivars. It also involves increased use of fertilizers, plant growth regulators, and pesticides and mechanised agriculture, controlled by increased and more detailed analysis of growing conditions, including weather, soil, water, weeds, and pests. Intensive farms are widespread in developed nations and increasingly prevalent worldwide. Most of the meat, dairy products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables available in supermarkets are produced by such farms.

Some intensive farms can use sustainable methods, although this typically necessitates higher inputs of labor or lower yields.[2] Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, especially on smallholdings, is an important way of decreasing the amount of land needed for farming and slowing environmental degradation through processes like deforestation.[3] Since agriculture has such large impacts on climate change, Project Drawdown described "Sustainable Intensification for Smallholders" an important method for climate change mitigation.[3]

Intensive animal farming involves large numbers of animals raised on limited land, for example by rotational grazing,[4][5] or in the Western world sometimes as concentrated animal feeding operations. These methods increase the yields of food and fiber per acre as compared to extensive animal husbandry; concentrated feed is brought to seldom-moved animals, or with rotational grazing the animals are repeatedly moved to fresh forage.[4][5]