What Are Characteristics of Subsistence Agriculture?

Subsistence agriculture is a farming practice meant to provide self-sufficiency for farmers and their families. It is meant to provide all they need to live simply and comfortably.

Subsistence agriculture has several characteristics that set it apart from the wide-scale farming that is commonly practiced in modern times. It generally relies on simple tools, such as shovels and wheelbarrows, instead of more advanced machinery. This stems from being unable to support the costs of standard technology and chemicals as well as the lack of need for intensive and widespread cultivating. Using simple tools helps to support the farmer’s lifestyle by keeping it more localized.

A reliable and efficient water supply is crucial to subsistence agriculture. A municipal water supply and a motorized pump are essential to providing the water necessary to sustain the crops and animals that are raised on the farm.

Most of the food produced by subsistence agriculture is vegetarian in nature, since more food can be grown on a smaller amount of land as opposed to raising only animals for food. Grains and fruits are very common and important crops. Raising animals for food is typically done on a smaller scale that focuses on quality over quantity with simple and economically sound practices.

Plowing new land is done with either a draft animal or hand tools if the weather permits.