Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Farming

Intensive farming is a method of growing crops or raising livestock in a small area. This farming uses more inputs and produces more outputs per unit area than extensive farming. On the other hand, extensive farming refers to growing crops or raising livestock in a large area. In this agriculture, fewer inputs are used, and fewer outputs are produced per unit area than intensive agriculture.

Farming is the process of growing food and raising animals in the field to produce food for humans. There are two types of farming: intensive and extensive.

Intensive farming is characterized by large-scale crop production and high use of technology, such as irrigation systems, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. This type of farming aims to maximize output per area of land under cultivation. 

In contrast, extensive farming produces less food per unit area than intensive farming but uses little or no outside inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, etc. 

Intensive vs. Extensive Farming 

First, let’s understand each one individually before going further into detail about the difference between intensive and extensive farming.


Intensive Farming

Intensive farming is a type of agriculture that uses more labor and capital than extensive farming. The goal is to produce more food per unit of land. Sometimes it’s just for high-value crops or livestock, but the goal of intensive farming is always to produce more product in less space.

Intensive farms might be called “factory farms” because they use industrial methods to grow large quantities of food at once. Intensive farms have many tools and machinery—tractors, harvesters, irrigation systems—to do their work quickly and efficiently while using as little land as possible (ideally).

Extensive Farming

Extensive farming is a type of agriculture that uses few or no external inputs to produce crops or livestock. This type of farming is also known as low-input or natural resources-based agriculture. Such farms are characterized by using renewable resources and few non-renewable resources, such as fertilizers and pesticides. 

Extensive farmers may use sustainable practices to protect soil quality, but they do not rely on “factory” production methods that are common with intensive farming techniques.

Extensive farming involves a variety of activities such as rotating crops, growing cover crops between seasons, composting manure and other organic materials from animals on the farm (if any), and rotating pastures. 

Hence, they regrow every three years instead of feeding them all year round, planting hedgerows around fields to provide habitat for insects which help pollinate plants (insects eat pollen) without pesticide chemicals killing them off altogether.

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Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Farming

  • Intensive farming uses more resources.
  • It requires machinery for maintenance, which can be expensive.
  • It also requires more water than extensive farming because intensive crops need to be watered daily or even twice daily, depending on the weather conditions.
  • Extensive farming uses fewer resources.
  • There are no additional costs for land, plants, or labor (except for hiring someone to help with weeding sometimes). So it’s cheaper to run an extensive farm than an intensive one if you are just looking at upfront costs.

The differences between intensive and extensive farming are determined by the methods and inputs used in the production of crops or livestock.

Intensive Farming refers to agricultural systems that use higher levels of technology, more labor, and more resources than traditional methods. Intensive farms rely on mechanization to maximize efficiency while minimizing costs. A common example is a large-scale dairy farm with automated milking machines instead of people doing the job manually.

Extensive Farming is characterized by low input usage, little mechanization, and generally low yields per unit area compared to intensive farming systems (but still high enough for some purposes). Extensive farms often use more labor than intensive operations but may have lower total yields due to lower productivity per hectare/unit area.

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While there are many similarities between intensive and extensive farming, the main difference is that intensive agriculture focuses on maximizing production from a small area of land. It uses high levels of inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, water, and other resources to produce crops at a high output per unit area. On the other hand, extensive farming relies more on natural processes to produce food at lower costs than intensive methods do but with less output per unit area (less yield).

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