What Is Intensive Farming?

Intensive farming uses large amounts of labor and resources as they relate to land area by applying fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation systems to achieve a profit. As of August 2014, intensive farming uses high-tech machinery to grow crops and raise livestock. Mechanization is expensive, but labor costs are reduced and productivity increases.

Intensive agriculture produces a larger profit on the same amount of land used for extensive farming. However, many farmers cultivate larger tracts of land to keep farm equipment in use and to return a faster profit to cover the expenses of large machinery. Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that expansive economic activity, along with the efficiency of machinery, lead to larger farms.

In less-developed nations, laborers work for little money to harvest crops on plantations, according to Dennis O'Neil of Palomar College. This model of intensive farming produces crops, such as sugar, vegetable oil, fruit and fiber for global markets. Because of petroleum imports and agriculture exports, intensive farming is a global enterprise dependent upon factors beyond just cropland and pastures.

Intensive farming dates back 5,000 years to Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, South America and Mesoamerica as human populations grew beyond what natural food sources supplied. Irrigation practices and domestication of large animals for plowing accelerated intensive farming all over the world.