Intensive farming is a method of farming that attempts to maximize the yield of crops on available land. It involves the heavy usage of modern technology such as pesticides, fertilizers, and mechanical plowing, and it is therefore a direct contrast to organic farming or no till farming, in which the yield per land is lower, but the land is not degraded.
Despite being a profit-driven method of farming that neglects the environment in favor of productivity, intensive farming remains a popular method of farming today, and the technology it utilizes is always being upgraded.
The biggest advantage of intensive farming is that its crop production levels are high, and often massively so compared to sustainable alternatives. For this reason, the cost of farm produce such as fruits, vegetables, and poultry has decreased significantly in many nations, meaning that poorer people can afford healthier and more nutritious food. Moreover, the large yields ensure that food can be supplied to larger populations, reducing the risk of starvation.
- Intensive farming is an unnatural method of farming. Its reliance on pesticides, fertilizers, and other poisons greatly affect the nutritional value of the food yielded, as well as the health of the consumers whom eat it, since these poisons do not wash off the produce easily. Indeed, studies and reports have proven that there is a direct correlation between the consumption of food procured from intensive farms, and the rising number of cancer patients in the United States. Many researchers have stated that the consumption of modified, inorganic, and chemical-ridden foods is the direct cause for this increase.
- Pesticides are indiscriminate in what they kill, and they kill useful insects just as often as the insects that destroy crops. Fertilizers in particular can damage the biology of water bodies such as lakes and rivers, and the chemicals can often drain into groundwater aquifers.
- Intensive farming also has a similarly devastating impact upon soil ecology, particularly when the farms are mismanaged. The aggressive plowing methods employed by intensive farmers destroy the habitats of wild creatures, which are needed for natural soil maintenance. For example, earthworms are natural tillers that gently filter the soil and ensure that it doesn't suffer from erosion. But mechanical plows kill earthworms and other useful lifeforms, creating the first requisites for desertification (this will happen anyway, since the poisons sprayed on the land will eventually render the land toxic and infertile regardless of how well it is looked after).
Clearly, then, the disadvantages of intensive farming completely outweigh the advantages.
Intensive farming is not a wise farming method; it rejects long-term environmental consequences in favor of immediate profit. While organic and sustainable farming methods (e.g. no till farming, lasagna farming, or any farming that does not utilize chemicals or aggressive machinery) can not match the production levels of intensive methods, their techniques are in much greater accord with nature's own. This means that in the long-term, land that has been farmed using natural methods will actually produce more crops than land that has been farmed using intensive methods, since intensive farming eventually destroys the land, whereas organic farming enriches it and ensures that future generations can utilize it for centuries to come.