Intensive farming
Overview
 
Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is an agricultural production system characterized by the high inputs of capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

, labour, or heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area.

This is in contrast to many sorts of sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment...

 such as organic farming
Organic farming
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

 or extensive agriculture, which involve higher inputs of labor, and energy relative to the area of land farmed, but focus on maintaining the long-term ecological health of the farmland, also the product which is being produced is generally produced with fewer synthetic chemicals.

Modern day forms of intensive crop based agriculture involve the use of mechanical ploughing, chemical fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s, plant growth regulators and/or pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s.
Encyclopedia
Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is an agricultural production system characterized by the high inputs of capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

, labour, or heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area.

This is in contrast to many sorts of sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment...

 such as organic farming
Organic farming
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

 or extensive agriculture, which involve higher inputs of labor, and energy relative to the area of land farmed, but focus on maintaining the long-term ecological health of the farmland, also the product which is being produced is generally produced with fewer synthetic chemicals.

Modern day forms of intensive crop based agriculture involve the use of mechanical ploughing, chemical fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

s, plant growth regulators and/or pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s. It is associated with the increasing use of agricultural mechanization
Mechanised agriculture
Mechanized agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture, massively increasing farm output and farm worker productivity...

, which have enabled a substantial increase in production, yet have also dramatically increased environmental pollution by increasing erosion and poisoning water with agricultural chemicals.

Intensive animal farming practices can involve very large numbers of animals raised on limited land which require large amounts of food, water and medical inputs (required to keep the animals healthy in cramped conditions). Very large or confined indoor intensive livestock operations (particularly descriptive of common US farming practices) are often referred to as factory farming
Factory farming
Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption...

 and are criticised by opponents for the low level of animal welfare standards and associated pollution and health issues.

Advantages

Intensive agriculture has a number of benefits:
  • Significantly increased yield per acre, per person, and per GBP relative to extensive farming and therefore,
  • Food becomes more affordable to the consumer as it costs less to produce.
  • The same area of land is able to supply food and fibre for a larger population reducing the risk of starvation.
  • The preservation of existing areas of woodland and rainforest habitats (and the ecosystems and other sustainable economies that these may harbour), which would need to be felled for extensive farming methods in the same geographical location. This also leads to a reduction in anthropomorphic CO2 generation (resulting from removal of the sequestration afforded by woodlands and rainforests).
  • In the case of intensive livestock farming: an opportunity to capture methane emissions which would otherwise contribute to global warming. Once captured, these emissions can be used to generate heat and/or electrical energy, thereby reducing local demand for fossil fuels.

Disadvantages

Intensive farming alters the environment in many ways.
  • Limits or destroys the natural habitat of most wild creatures, and leads to soil erosion.
  • Use of fertilizers can alter the biology of rivers and lakes. Some environmentalists attribute the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico as being encouraged by nitrogen fertilization of the algae bloom.
  • Pesticides generally kill useful insects as well as those that destroy crops.
  • Is often not sustainable if not properly managed—may result in desertification
    Desertification
    Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

    , or land that is so poisonous and eroded that nothing else will grow there.
  • Requires large amounts of energy input to produce, transport, and apply chemical fertilizers/pesticides
  • The chemicals used may leave the field as runoff eventually ending up in rivers and lakes or may drain into groundwater aquifers.
  • Use of pesticides have numerous negative health effects in workers who apply them, people that live nearby the area of application or downstream/downwind from it, and consumers who eat the pesticides which remain on their food.

Pre modern intensive farming

Pre modern intensive farming techniques and structures include terracing
Terrace (agriculture)
Terraces are used in farming to cultivate sloped land. Graduated terrace steps are commonly used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease erosion and surface runoff, and are effective for growing crops requiring much water, such as rice...

, rice paddies
Paddy field
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Paddies can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such...

, and various forms of aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

.

Terrace


In agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, a terrace
Terrace (agriculture)
Terraces are used in farming to cultivate sloped land. Graduated terrace steps are commonly used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease erosion and surface runoff, and are effective for growing crops requiring much water, such as rice...

 is a leveled section of a hill
Hill
A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

y cultivated area, designed as a method of soil conservation
Soil conservation
Soil conservation is a set of management strategies for prevention of soil being eroded from the Earth’s surface or becoming chemically altered by overuse, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination...

 to slow or prevent the rapid surface runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

 of irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 water. Often such land is formed into multiple terraces, giving a stepped appearance. The human landscapes of rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 cultivation in terraces that follow the natural contours of the escarpments like contour ploughing is a classic feature of the island of Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 and the Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces also called Payew, are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". It is commonly thought that...

 in Benguet
Benguet
Benguet is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is La Trinidad and borders, clockwise from the south, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya....

, Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, the Inca made use of otherwise unusable slopes by drystone walling to create terraces.

Rice paddy

A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 used for growing rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 and other semiaquatic crops
Aquatic plant
Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments. They are also referred to as hydrophytes or aquatic macrophytes. These plants require special adaptations for living submerged in water, or at the water's surface. Aquatic plants can only grow in water or in soil that is...

. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

-growing countries of east
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 including Malaysia, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. They are also found in other rice-growing regions such as Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

 (Italy), the Camargue
Camargue
The Camargue is the region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. The eastern arm is called the Grand Rhône; the western one is the Petit Rhône....

 (France) and the Artibonite Valley
Artibonite Valley
Artibonite Valley is a valley predominantly in Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola. The Artibonite River flows through the valley, with headwaters in the Dominican Republic as well....

 (Haiti). They can occur naturally along river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s or marshes, or can be constructed, even on hillsides, often with much labour
Manual labour
Manual labour , manual or manual work is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines, and also to that done by working animals...

 and materials. They require large quantities of water for irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

, which can be quite complex for a highly developed system of paddy fields. Flooding provides water essential to the growth of the crop. It also gives an environment favourable to the strain of rice being grown, and is hostile to many species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of weed
Weed
A weed in a general sense is a plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance, and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings, especially farm fields and gardens, but also lawns, parks, woods, and other areas. More specifically, the term is often used to...

s. As the only draft animal species which is adapted for life in wetlands, the water buffalo
Water buffalo
The water buffalo is a domesticated bovid widely kept in Asia, Europe and South America.Water buffalo can also refer to:*Wild water buffalo , the wild ancestor of the domestic water buffalo...

 is in widespread use in Asian rice paddies. World methane production due to rice paddies has been estimated in the range of 50 to 100 million tonnes per annum.

Paddy-based rice-farming has been practiced Korea since ancient times. A pit-house at the Daecheon-ni site yielded carbonized rice grains and radiocarbon dates indicating that rice cultivation may have begun as early as the Middle Jeulmun Pottery Period
Jeulmun pottery period
The Jeulmun Pottery Period is an archaeological era in Korean prehistory that dates to approximately 8000-1500 BC.. It is named after the decorated pottery vessels that form a large part of the pottery assemblage consistently over the above period, especially 4000-2000 BC. Jeulmun means...

 (c. 3500-2000 BC) in the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 (Crawford and Lee 2003). The earliest rice cultivation in the Korean Peninsula may have used dry-fields instead of paddies.

The earliest Mumun features were usually located in low-lying narrow gulleys that were naturally swampy and fed by the local stream system. Some Mumun paddies in flat areas were made of a series of squares and rectangles separated by bunds approximately 10 cm in height, while terraced paddies consisted of long irregularly shapes that followed natural contours of the land at various levels (Bale 2001; Kwak 2001).

Mumun Period rice farmers used all of the elements that are present in today's paddies such terracing, bunds, canals, and small reservoirs. Some paddy-farming techniques of the Middle Mumun (c. 850-550 BC) can be interpreted from the well-preserved wooden tools excavated from archaeological rice paddies at the Majeon-ni Site. However, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 tools for paddy-farming were not introduced until sometime after 200 BC. The spatial scale of individual paddies, and thus entire paddy-fields, increased with the regular use of iron
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 tools in the Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

 Period (c. AD 300/400-668).

Modern intensive farming types

Modern intensive farming refers to the industrialized
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

 production of animals (livestock, poultry and fish) and crops
Crop (agriculture)
A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize , wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include...

. The methods deployed are designed to produce the highest output at the lowest cost; usually using economies of scale, modern machinery, modern medicine, and global trade
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 for financing, purchases and sales. The practice is widespread in developed nations, and most of the meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

, dairy
Dairy
A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffalo, sheep, horses or camels —for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned...

, egg
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

s, and crops available in supermarket
Supermarket
A supermarket, a form of grocery store, is a self-service store offering a wide variety of food and household merchandise, organized into departments...

s are produced in this manner.

Sustainable intensive farming

Biointensive
Biointensive
The biointensive method is an organic agricultural system which focuses on maximum yields from the minimum area of land, while simultaneously improving the soil. The goal of the method is long term sustainability on a closed system basis...

 agriculture focuses on maximizing efficiency: yield per unit area, yield per energy input, yield per water input, etc.
Agroforestry
Agroforestry
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock.It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems.-Definitions:According to...

 combines agriculture and orchard/forestry technologies to create more integrated, diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems. Intercropping
Intercropping
Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. Careful planning is required, taking into account...

 can also increase total yields per unit of area or reduce inputs to achieve the same, and thus represents (potentially sustainable) agricultural intensification. Unfortunately, bra's of any specific crop often diminish and the change can present new challenges to farmers relying on modern farming equipment which is best suited to monoculture
Monoculture
Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area. It is also known as a way of farming practice of growing large stands of a single species. It is widely used in modern industrial agriculture and its implementation has allowed for large harvests from...

. Vertical farming
Vertical farming
Vertical farming is a concept that argues that it is economically and environmentally viable to cultivate plant or animal life within skyscrapers, or on vertically inclined surfaces...

, a type of intensive crop production that would grow food on a large scale in urban centers, has been proposed as a way to reduce the negative environmental impact of traditional rural agriculture.

Intensive aquaculture

Aquaculture is the cultivation of the natural produce of water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 (fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, shellfish
Shellfish
Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Although most kinds of shellfish are harvested from saltwater environments, some kinds are found only in freshwater...

, algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

, seaweed
Seaweed
Seaweed is a loose, colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includes some members of the red, brown and green algae...

 and other aquatic organisms). Intensive Aquaculture can often involve tanks or other highly controlled systems which are designed to boost production for the available volume or area of water resource.

Intensive livestock farming

"Factory farming" is a term referring to the process of raising livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 — a practice typical in industrial farming
Industrial agriculture (animals)
Industrial animal agriculture or industrial livestock production is a modern form of intensive farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, including cattle, poultry and fish...

 by agribusiness
Agribusiness
In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in food production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales....

es. The main product of this industry is meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

, milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 and eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

 for human consumption. The term is often used in a pejorative sense, criticising large scale farming processes which confine animals.

Managed intensive grazing

This sustainable intensive livestock management system is increasingly used to optimize production within a sustainability framework and is generally not considered Factory farming
Factory farming
Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory — a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption...

.
Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is an agricultural production system characterized by the high inputs of capital, labour, or heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area.[1][2]

This is in contrast to many forms of sustainable agriculture such as permaculture or extensive agriculture, which involve a relatively low input of materials and labour, relative to the area of land farmed, and which focus on maintaining long-term ecological health of farmland, so that it can be farmed indefinitely.

Modern day forms of intensive crop based agriculture involve the use of mechanical ploughing, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators and/or pesticides. It is associated with the increasing use of agricultural mechanization, which have enabled a substantial increase in production, yet have also dramatically increased environmental pollution by increasing erosion, poisoning water with agricultural chemicals, and destroying forests to make room for farmland.[1]

Intensive animal farming practices can involve very large numbers of animals raised on limited land which require large amounts of food, water and medical inputs (required to keep the animals healthy in cramped conditions).[2] Very large or confined indoor intensive livestock operations (particularly descriptive of common US farming practices) are often referred to as Factory farming[3][1][4] and are criticised by opponents for the low level of animal welfare standards[4][5] and associated pollution and health issues.[6][7]

Individual industrial agriculture farm

Major challenges and issues faced by individual industrial agriculture farms include:
  • integrated farming
    Integrated farming
    Integrated farming or integrated production is a commonly and broadly used word to explain a more integrated approach to farming as compared to existing monoculture approaches...

     systems
  • crop sequencing
  • water use efficiency
  • nutrient audits
  • herbicide resistance
  • financial instruments (such as futures and options)
  • collecting and understanding own farm information
  • knowing products / markets / customers
  • satisfying customer needs
  • securing an acceptable profit margin
    Profit margin
    Profit margin, net margin, net profit margin or net profit ratio all refer to a measure of profitability. It is calculated by finding the net profit as a percentage of the revenue.Net profit Margin = x100...

  • cost of servicing debt
  • ability to earn and access off-farm income
  • management of machinery and stewardship investments

Integrated farming systems

An integrated farming system is a progressive biologically integrated sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment...

 system such as Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture
Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture
Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture provides the by-products, including waste, from one aquatic species as inputs for another...

 or Zero waste agriculture
Zero waste agriculture
Zero waste agriculture is a type of sustainable agriculture which optimizes use of the five natural kingdoms, i.e. plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and algae, to produce biodiverse-food, energy and nutrients in a synergistic integrated cycle of profit making processes where the waste of each...

 whose implementation requires exacting knowledge of the interactions of numerous species and whose benefits include sustainability and increased profitability.

Elements of this integration can include:
  • intentionally introducing flowering plants into agricultural ecosystems to increase pollen-and nectar-resources required by natural enemies of insect pests
  • using crop rotation and cover crops to suppress nematodes in potatoes

Crop rotation

Crop rotation or crop sequencing is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops
Crop (agriculture)
A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize , wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include...

 in the same space in sequential seasons for various benefits such as to avoid the build up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped. Crop rotation also seeks to balance the fertility demands of various crops to avoid excessive depletion of soil nutrients. A traditional component of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 through the use of green manure
Green manure
In agriculture, a green manure is a type of cover crop grown primarily to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Typically, a green manure crop is grown for a specific period of time , and then plowed under and incorporated into the soil while green or shortly after flowering...

 in sequence with cereals and other crops. It is one component of polyculture
Polyculture
Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture...

. Crop rotation can also improve soil structure
Soil structure
Soil structure is determined by how individual soil granules clump or bind together and aggregate, and therefore, the arrangement of soil pores between them...

 and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants.

Water use efficiency

Crop irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 accounts for 70% of the world's fresh water use. The agricultural sector of most countries is important both economically and politically, and water subsidies are common. Conservation advocates have urged removal of all subsidies to force farmers to grow more water-efficient crops and adopt less wasteful irrigation techniques.

Optimal water efficiency means minimizing losses due to evaporation, runoff or subsurface drainage. An evaporation pan can be used to determine how much water is required to irrigate the land. Flood irrigation
Surface irrigation
Surface irrigation is defined as the group of application techniques where water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity. It is by far the most common form of irrigation throughout the world and has been practiced in many areas virtually unchanged for thousands of years.Surface...

, the oldest and most common type, is often very uneven in distribution, as parts of a field may receive excess water in order to deliver sufficient quantities to other parts. Overhead irrigation, using center-pivot or lateral-moving sprinklers, gives a much more equal and controlled distribution pattern. Drip irrigation
Drip irrigation
Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or microirrigation or localized irrigation , is an irrigation method which saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves,...

 is the most expensive and least-used type, but offers the best results in delivering water to plant roots with minimal losses.

As changing irrigation systems can be a costly undertaking, conservation efforts often concentrate on maximizing the efficiency of the existing system. This may include chiseling compacted soils, creating furrow dikes to prevent runoff, and using soil moisture and rainfall sensors to optimize irrigation schedules.

Water catchment management measures include recharge pits, which capture rainwater and runoff and use it to recharge ground water supplies. This helps in the formation of ground water wells, etc. and eventually reduces soil erosion caused due to running water.

Nutrient audits

Better nutrient audits allow farmers to spend less money on nutrients and to create less pollution since less nutrient is added to the soil and thus there is less to run off and pollute. Methodologies for assessing soil nutrient balances have been studied and used for farms and entire countries for decades. But at present "there is no standard methodology for calculating nutrient budgets and there are no accepted 'benchmarks' figures against which to assess farm nutrient use efficiency. [A standard methodology] for calculating nutrient budgets on farms [is hoped to help reduce] diffuse water and air pollution from agriculture [through] best management practices in the use of fertilisers and organic manures, as part of the continued development of economically and environmentally sustainable farming systems."

Herbicide resistance

In agriculture, large scale and systematic weeding is usually required, often performed by machines such as cultivators or liquid herbicide sprayers. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often based on plant hormones. Weed control
Weed control
Weed control is the botanical component of pest control, using physical and chemical methods to stop weeds from reaching a mature stage of growth when they could be harmful to domesticated plants and livestock...

 through herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

 is made more difficult when the weeds become resistant to the herbicide. Solutions include:
  • using cover crops (especially those with allelopathic properties) that out-compete weeds and/or inhibit their regeneration.
  • using a different herbicide
  • using a different crop (e.g. genetically altered to be herbicide resistant; which ironically can create herbicide resistant weeds through horizontal gene transfer
    Horizontal gene transfer
    Horizontal gene transfer , also lateral gene transfer , is any process in which an organism incorporates genetic material from another organism without being the offspring of that organism...

    )
  • using a different variety (e.g. locally adapted variety that resists, tolerates, or even out-competes weeds)
  • ploughing
  • ground cover such as mulch or plastic
  • manual removal

See also

  • Environmental issues with agriculture
    Environmental issues with agriculture
    The environmental impact of agriculture varies based on the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world.-Climate change:Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes, both of which take place on a global scale...

  • Green Revolution
    Green Revolution
    Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s....

  • Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture
    Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture
    Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture provides the by-products, including waste, from one aquatic species as inputs for another...

  • Permaculture
    Permaculture
    Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture...

  • Polyculture
    Polyculture
    Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture...

  • Small-scale agriculture
    Small-scale agriculture
    Small-scale agriculture is an alternative to factory farming or more broadly, intensive agriculture or unsustainable farming methods that are prevalent in primarily first world countries. Environmental Health Perspectives has noted that " Sustainable agriculture is not merely a package of...

  • System of Rice Intensification
    System of Rice Intensification
    The System of Rice Intensification is a method of increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It was developed in 1983 by the French Jesuit Father Henri de Laulanie in Madagascar. However full testing of the system did not occur until some years later...

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