Difference between Extensive and Intensive Farming

Difference between Extensive and Intensive Farming

Farming requires a lot of things, from different methodologies, equipment, purchasers, to people. A farmer would have to give up one thing to gain another in terms of productivity and profitability against the impact such farming has on the environment. Intensive and extensive farming are two different methods of farming.

While intensive farming is a type of food production that majorly focuses on mechanization and intensification of agricultural practices, it’s mainly done to increase the profitability and productivity of your land. Extensive farming is a situation where you as a farmer have an enormous piece of land but lack human labor, inputs, and income to tend to it. This leads to a high production cost, but the product is limited.

Intensive Farming Vs. Extensive Farming

The significant difference between these two farming methods is that in intensive farming, the inputs are high when it comes to insecticide, labor, and capital, whereas in extensive farming, the inputs are far less. Intensive farming has limited land, and it’s very expensive, but in extensive farming, land is massive, and it is not costly. The output in intensive farming is larger, usually per hectare than in extensive farming.

Intensive farming is an agricultural method of food production, whereas extensive farming is an agrarian farming method. While land is limited in intensive farming, it utilizes a higher workforce and equipment. This reduces the cost of production because of the increased involvement of machinery. This method is more suitable for the industrial level of farming. On the other hand, extensive farming techniques are based on survival.

What is Intensive Farming?

As stated earlier, the method majorly relies on mechanization and intensification. Higher productivity is promoted because higher levels of inputs are incorporated. For instance, they include higher levels of insecticide, labor, fertilizers, herbicides, capital, among other factors. They also have genetically modified crops that can withstand harsher environmental factors.

An excellent example of this type of farming is using Monsanto herbicide roundup plus incorporating genetically modified soybeans seeds. This principle can also be applied in animal farming. It majorly relies on chemicals as well as high-yielding crops to enhance greater productivity.

You are wondering how this type of farming impacts the environment as it uses tons of chemicals. Most intensive farming does not have to be unsustainable. For instance, the millennium ecosystem assessment helps understand how this type of farming can be used to nurture, protect, and use the environment without negatively impacting it.

What is Extensive Farming?

Extensive farming tries to explain a situation where huge parcels of land are available, but the workforce, machinery, income, and inputs limit productivity. Therefore, this will make the cost of production high but the produce of the firm to below. Its productivity is directly related to the natural fertility of its soil, the terrain, and the climate of the region. This aspect has allowed farmers to have to toil vast parcels of land to get profits.

Even though the total yield can be high, it has to be over an extensive piece of land. This type of farming per hectare tends to produce lower yields when you look at this type of farming. This makes the farmers charge a lot more when it comes to a high premium per crop than its counterparts so that they can break even.

A good example of extensive farming is traditional cultivation methods that sprout out seasonal products. The farmers will produce products that are seasonal while incorporating lower inputs techniques. These products are usually sold to small target markets. This makes the GDP of extensive farming to be lower and, therefore, less profitable to farmers when compared to intensive farming.

One advantage of using extensive farming is that it is eco-friendly. It uses minimal input, and so various natural ecosystems remain intact. You will not have to incorporate expensive techniques to safeguard the environment.

Difference between intensive farming and extensive farming


Intensive farming incorporates intensification and mechanization in order to produce as much yield as possible. It utilizes a workforce that will enhance the machinery at hand to get that optimal level. In economics, you can say that intensive farming uses high levels of inputs per cubic space. While extensive farming majorly incorporates large parcels of land with fewer inputs. The method depends on natural fertilizers and available capital. The capital is usually higher because it involves the rearing of cattle.

Locations and farming land

The intensive farms are located in the residing premises. While the farming space is small, it goes through thorough machinery applications that foster huge produce yields. The farmers will incorporate herbicides and insecticides while using rigged irrigation provisions. Whereas extensive farming incorporates large parcels of land that go beyond what the eyes can see.

The land is usually located in the city’s outskirts where land is cheaper, and the atmosphere has fresh air. Farming there operates on the seasoned cycle of the soil, natural affluence, and cattle to the rear and available labor. On the other hand, intensive farming will locate itself closer to the market for more accessible transportation.


Intensive farming looks to increase its yield by depending on fertilizers, machinery, and labor and is suitable for small-scale industry-related products. Conversely, extensive farming has labor costs making its production to be high. Its output requires a little bit of care to attain massive yields.


Intensive farming has a negative effect on the environment because it is done to increase productivity. They incorporate chemical fertilizers that help to increase production. The fertilizers remain in the soil to cause soil erosion and soil degradation.

Conversely, extensive farming does not incorporate a lot of chemicals and machinery, so they do not negatively affect the environment. They depend on the natural cycle of soil, plus they are located in a serene atmosphere where the air is fresh. But extensive farming is mainly to rear cattle and livestock.


Intensive and extensive farming methods are used in various aspects to increase yields in productivity. The methods are different as intensive is volume-based when it comes to machinery and chemicals in order to increase productivity. On the other hand, extensive incorporates a lot of labor and less input.

For you to acquire massive yields in extensive farming, you have to toil a huge parcel of land, which is not the case for intensive farming. Whichever way you go, you will always get the outcome you desire when the right inputs and other factors are put in place.

Leave a Comment