Intensive farming has become a buzzword in the precision farming community, it has also split opinions as to whether or not it is beneficial. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of using the intensive farming method and hopefully help you evaluate whether it is the right method for you to employ on your precision farm.
Intensive farming on a basic level means using everything available to a precision farmer to maximise the output from their farms. This can be through fertilising fields to sometimes extreme levels, keeping livestock inside in smaller spaces or using high levels of pesticides to maintain soil at an optimal level. Probably, from this summary alone you can tell there is going to be a lot of backlash from welfare groups and green farming communities.
So, what are the pros of this?
Advantages of Intensive Farming
The major advantage of intensive farming is extreme yields and high outputs.
- Farm yields are higher than traditional farming methods with yield per hectare being significantly higher.
- Supervision of the farm becomes easier as time goes on, this is because the farm adapts to the new high output ratio and farmers become more experienced in keeping their farms running at this level.
- More economical. The process allows for greater control over input to maximise output and profit margins reflect this.
- Intensive farming meets the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) protocols so produce is considered healthy, safe for consumption and because it is mass produced it is also readily affordable.
- Better scalability due to the output to input ratio, farm land is being used more effectively.
- Healthier produce types like fruits and veg are more affordable to the public when intensive farming practices are used.
The major attraction to intensive farming for precision farmers is twofold. Initially it is based on higher profit margins but on the back of those increased profits is a supply and demand aspect whereby supply is now equalling the demand for produce.
Disadvantages of Intensive Farming
There are major criticisms levied at intensive farmers and they have at times been vilified, especially by activist groups and environmental agencies, this can have a very detrimental effect if people associate your farm with bad farming practices and negatively affect profit margins.
- Increased use of fertilisers and pesticides has a detrimental effect on the wider environment with bodies of water situated close to intensive farms being significantly more contaminated than traditional farms
- Poorer conditions for livestock means that the quality of produce drops greatly and animal welfare groups are likely to take a very dim view of your farming practices.
- Intensive farms are likely to me more pollutant in general due to more chemicals being used in smaller areas.
Intensive farming has a very attractive financial aspect, but this is countered by the significant ethical argument that is put against it. At the end of the day it all comes down to how important profit is over reputation and this should be a primary driver in your decision about whether to adopt intensive farm methods.