What is the difference between intensive and extensive agriculture?

What is the difference between intensive and extensive agriculture?

As in certain terms, aspects, etc. There are different types, in agriculture it also happens in the same way. In this case, there are several models of this and two of them are the most used in terms of production: intensive and extensive. However, knowing the difference between intensive and extensive agriculture is not easy, especially when you are not sure what you are referring to.

If you want to dedicate yourself a little more to agriculture, these terms, you need to know what they mean because they can help you decide what kind of agricultural production method you are going to implement. We tell you more below.


Let’s talk intensive agriculture

green and plowed field

Before introducing you to the difference between intensive and extensive farming, it is important that you know what each term entails.

There Intensive farming is a production method with which production is maximized in the short term.. That is, he seeks to achieve a high amount of production. And for this, different means are used for this purpose. For example, use of special seeds, special irrigation, specialized machinery, fertilizers and fertilizers, phytosanitary products and pesticides…

The objective is cultivate the land twice a year; one for spring and summer; and another for fall and winter.

Among the advantages that this method offers us, there is no doubt that one of the first is the possibility of increasing agricultural production. That is, to get more produce per harvest. In addition, they are cheaper in the sense that, being faster, they consume less. And they require less time since crops are influenced to shorten their production time (thus sacrificing quality).

The problem, which you have surely noticed, is that it can have medium and long-term consequences on earth. As desertification can be when abused (the land ends up consuming its nutrients and in the end it ceases to be productive). In addition, with the use of chemicals, the soil can be damaged or a resistance to the products can be broken, which forces the use of more powerful products (which can alter the crops).

This type of agricultural production is the one that is used above all in developed countries and by farmers since it seeks to maximize production to obtain more crops and with it a practically constant remuneration.

All about extensive farming

panorama of a rice field

If we are now interested in extensive agriculture, we must know that it is based on a production model that follows the natural rhythm of natural resources. In other words, the usual crop life cycle is followed, as well as the land.

In this case, the means of production that speed up the process are not used, nor the production the goal, but rather quality and respect for the environment.

Realize, natural techniques are used (planting, maintenance, etc.) trying not to affect it with chemicals and allowing time for the crops to develop naturally (without accelerating them). By not overusing machines, nor by using chemicals, even less by exploiting the soil, it remains healthier, allowing it to replenish itself between harvests and promoting biodiversity.

For the consumer too There are benefits since the products that arrive in stores are of better quality, health and flavor. But this implies a higher price because they are foods that cannot be found all year round and have required more care since they have been in the field.

In summary, The advantages of extensive farming are::

  • You don’t need so much machinery, in fact manual work takes precedence over mechanics.
  • Soil doesn’t need a lot of work. If he is well fed, just let him patiently do his job.
  • Fertilizers are not used, nor are pests and diseases to be treated (and if they are, less harmful and invasive treatments are used).

now too It has drawbacks, like not getting high production, nor to be able to exploit the fields two or more times. This implies that the crops take longer to be ready, which implies a lower profit with each harvest.

The difference between intensive and extensive agriculture

apple orchard with fruits

Now that you know what intensive and extensive farming is, it is possible that you will know more clearly what is the difference between the two. But just in case, we summarize the differences between them below.

  • Intensive agriculture is based on an invasive method, because it seeks to maximize the production of the soil and for this it applies treatments to achieve its objective. In contrast, with extensive agriculture, resources are respected and time is given to each crop.
  • There intensive farmingbecause of this maximization of production, requires more manpower and machinery that the vast
  • There is a increased consumption of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides in intensive agriculture than in extensive agriculture. Where respect for the environment and organic farming and without the use of chemicals, but natural, are priorities.
  • Regarding the land, in intensive agriculture He tries to get the most out of it as quickly as possible., having to be very aware of him to prevent him from becoming sterile. On the other hand, in the extensive, by not influencing it, it can last much longer.

Currently, extensive agriculture is spreading in all countries because they seek not to harm the environment and at the same time obtain better quality food.

Even so, not all countries do so yet. For the moment, only the United States, Argentina, Africa and Asia have bet on this method of agricultural production. Sometimes even by combining it with the intensive.

Among the crops, those that stand out the most are cereal and fodder plants.

Now that you know the difference between intensive and extensive agriculture, which of the two would you choose?

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