Intensive farming is an agricultural system that aims to get maximum yield from the available land. This farming technique is also applied in supplying livestock. You could say that under this technique, food is produced in large quantities with the help of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are appropriately used to save such agricultural land from pests, and crop diseases.
Products, such as eggs, meat, and other agricultural items that are easily available in many supermarkets today are produced using modern intensive farming methods. Jay Rayner, a restaurant critic of the Observer says, 'Sure, it might be cruel, but intensive farming saves lives.' It is practiced widely by many developed economies of the world. Sustainable intensive farming, intensive aquaculture, intensive livestock farming, and management-intensive grazing fall under this farming category.
Advantages of Intensive Farming
Lower Food Prices
With the introduction of intensive farming, farm produce, such as vegetables, fruits, and poultry products have become less expensive. It also aids in solving the worldwide hunger problems to a great extent. This means that common people can now afford a balanced and nutritious diet.
Many opine that organic food can be afforded only by the elite strata of the society. Apart from that, large farming spaces are required to cultivate organic crops using natural manure. However, with the introduction of intensive farming, the space, equipment, and other requirements for farming are less and more economical.
Disadvantages to Intensive Farming
Poor Living Conditions for Livestock
Intensive farming involves the use of various kinds of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. Apart from this, it is also associated with farms that keep livestock above their holding capacity, which in turn leads to pollution, various diseases, and infections brought about by overcrowding and poor hygiene.
Reports and studies reveal that intensive farming affects and alters the environment in multiple ways. Forests are destroyed to create large open fields, and this could lead to soil erosion. It affects the natural habitat of wild animals. Use of chemical fertilizers contaminates soil and water bodies, such as lakes and rivers.
Excessive Use of Fertilizers and Pesticides
Pesticides sprayed on crops not only destroy pests and contaminate the crops, but also kill beneficial insects. Heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers also affects the workers (who spray the pesticides) and the people residing nearby. Eventually, these chemicals are passed on to the human beings, who consume the agricultural produce.
Damage on Crops and Human Life
Fruits and vegetables purchased from farms that promote intensive farming are covered with invisible pesticides. These cannot be washed off easily. Exceeding the use of pesticides affects the health of human beings severely, leading to skin allergies, physical deformity, and congenital disease.
Higher Risk of Cancer
Statistics show a direct relation between the consumption of food procured from intensive farming sites and an increase in the number of cancer patients and children born with defects. Researchers opine that consumption of inorganic poisonous vegetables, fruits, poultry, and meat could probably be one of the reasons for causing such damage in the human body.
Intensive Farming Alternatives
It is very difficult to pick a side in the debate regarding intensive farming. While it is true that agricultural intensification is necessary to meet the ever-increasing population growth, it is also true that intensive use of chemical fertilizers will largely affect the health of human beings, plants, fish, honey bees, frogs, birds, and livestock. There is a tug-of-war between the animal rights activists and farmers of intensive farming. However, the debate is still ongoing, but we hope to see some new inventions or improvements in the near future.