What does Intensive Agriculture Mean?

Agriculture is the set of tasks that involve tilling and cultivating the land to obtain food and different raw materials that are used in the most varied production processes. Intensive, meanwhile, is an adjective that refers to what is carried out with an intensity or energy greater than usual.

Intensive agriculture refers to agricultural activity that fully exploits the means of production. Such intense use of the productive means can be developed in terms of capitalization, inputs or labor.

Take the case of an intensive farming system that appeals to constant capitalization. In this case, the activity will require large sums of money to develop facilities that allow the environment to be controlled. When pressure on labor intensifies, on the other hand, it becomes necessary to have many workers to carry out cultivation or harvesting tasks. As for the inputs, an example of intensive agriculture is produced with those flowers that require the application of multiple products so that, in the markets, they look in good condition.

At a general level, it can be said that intensive agriculture is committed to obtaining large productions in small spaces. It is usual to focus on a single product, deriving all resources from its exploitation.

The use of pesticides, fertilizers and other agrochemicals and a high amount of fuel is frequent in intensive agriculture to increase the productivity of the land.

It is important to mention that intensive agriculture usually generates negative effects on the ecosystem, affecting native fauna and flora and damaging the terrain, which can cease to be productive due to over-exploitation.

When thinking about ecological intensive agriculture, a very common example is the so-called deep bed method. This is the creation of a spongy bed of earth in which vegetables grow very easily, and their roots can develop properly, in a straight line and with the expected depth. One of its main advantages is that it does not require the presence of a large surface, since it takes advantage of each square centimeter better than other methods.

The origin of the deep bed is very old, and over the decades it has received different names, among which the French method, the Chinese method or, as it is known in North America, simply the Method. In addition to its benefits for farmers, we can also say that it does not harm the environment as much as other more aggressive practices. Its use is usually reserved for home or school gardens.

If we look in the opposite direction to intensive agriculture, we find extensive agriculture, a production system characterized by making use of the natural resources that are in place, unlike the first, which seeks to maximize productivity. in the shortest possible time, through processes such as drainage or irrigation, and with the help of chemical products.

Between the 1960s and 1980s, an increase in agricultural productivity took place in various parts of the world, which became known as the green revolution. This phenomenon, which started in the United States and later spread to other countries, is often referred to as a historical intensification of agriculture, and for this reason it is not uncommon for confusion to be generated by the term intensive agriculture.

In short, intensive agriculture and the green revolution are completely unrelated, mainly because the former closed decades ago, but also because it simply involved an expansion of extensive agriculture.

Intensive Agriculture