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Difference between Subsistence Farming and Intensive Farming

Difference between Subsistence Farming and Intensive Farming

When most people think of farming, they might imagine a small family farm where the farmer grows crops or raises livestock to support their own family. However, modern farming practices have shifted away from this traditional model towards intensive farming operations that are larger in scale and often rely on industrialized methods. This has led to debates about the best way to produce food and what is the most sustainable method. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between subsistence farming and intensive farming, and examine some of the pros and cons of each approach.

What is Subsistence Farming?

  • Subsistence farming is a type of agriculture where farmers grow crops and raise animals in order to meet their own needs, rather than selling them on the market. This is in contrast to commercial farming, where farmers produce crops and livestock for sale.
  • Subsistence farming is often associated with developing countries, where many people still rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, it can also be found in developed countries, particularly in rural areas. In some cases, subsistence farmers may sell some of their produce in order to generate income, but their main goal is to provide food and other necessities for themselves and their families.
  • Subsistence farming can be challenging, as farmers must contend with unstable weather conditions, pests, and soil depletion. In addition, they typically lack access to modern technology and other resources that could make their work easier. As a result, subsistence farmers often have very low incomes and live in poverty.
  • Despite the challenges, subsistence farming plays an important role in many communities. It provides food security for those who engage in it and helps to preserve traditional cultures and ways of life. In some cases, it may also be the only form of employment available.

What is Intensive Farming?

Intensive farming is a type of agriculture where large amounts of land are used to produce significant yields. This approach is often associated with large-scale operations, such as factory farms. One key characteristic of intensive farming is the high amount of inputs required, such as chemicals, water, and energy. This type of farming can also put a strain on the environment, as it can lead to soil degradation and water pollution. In addition, intensive farming often relies on monoculture, which is the practice of growing a single crop over an extended period of time. This can make crops more susceptible to pests and diseases. While intensive farming can be successful in terms of yield, it has come under criticism in recent years for its negative impact on the environment and animal welfare.

Difference between Subsistence Farming and Intensive Farming

  • When it comes to farming, there are two common types of approaches that farmers take, which are subsistence farming and intensive farming. Though both types of farming aim to achieve the same goal, which is to harvest crops and rear livestock effectively, they differ in many aspects.
  • One major difference between subsistence farming and intensive farming is the scale or size of the farm. A subsistence farm is usually small and only just enough to meet the needs of the farmer and his family. On the other hand, an intensive farm is usually much larger as it needs to produce enough food not only for the farmer and his family but also for sale.
  • Another difference between the two types of farming is the type of crop grown. Subsistence farmers usually grow crops that staple foods in their region such as wheat, maize, and rice. These crops are easy to grow and can be stored for a long time. Intensive farmers, on the other hand, grow cash crops such as coffee, tobacco, and cotton. These crops are more valuable but require more care and attention.
  • Finally, subsistence farmers typically use simple tools and methods while intensive farmers use more sophisticated equipment and techniques.


The difference between subsistence and intensive farming is vast. Subsistence farming is a way of life, where families farm to survive and provide for their community. Intensive farming is a business model, where the goal is to produce as much food as possible in order to make a profit. These two models rely on different principles and have different impacts on the environment. It’s important that we understand these differences so that we can make informed decisions about how our food is produced.

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