Industrial Agriculture

April 29, 2010Agricultureby EconomyWatch

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Industrial agriculture is defined as a modern form of capital intensive farming in which the machinery and purchased are substituted for the labor of human beings and animals. Industrial agriculture requires huge amounts of innovation in agriculture machinery and their utilization, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic technology, large amounts of irrigation water and creates new markets for consumption. The method ofindustrial agriculture is used mostly in the developed countries.

Properties of Industrial Agriculture:
  • Monoculture- Industrial agriculture derives its profits from economies of scale that is achieved through practicing monoculture. Monoculture is the procedure of growing a single crop year after year. It reduces the production costs significantly and thus help the farmer to earn a higher share of profit.

  • Pest prone- In the absence of crop rotation, industrial agriculture has a tendency to get attacked by pests and weeds. This asks for huge reliance on pesticides and other chemicals to get rid of them. For similar reasons, a huge amount of fertilizers is also required.

  • Unhealthy livestock- Industrial agriculture is practiced over large arable lands. This needs a huge amount of livestock also. Often the livestocks are kept in filthy conditions thus making them susceptible to communicable diseases.

  • Practiced frequently- In United States, almost all major commodity crops are grown under industrial agriculture. However the practice of monoculture is frequently discontinued.

Industrial agriculture has been under controversy because according to many agriculturists its benefits can't outweigh its costs. Industrial agriculture has brought into existence cheap agricultural products and at the same time has magnified the profit that goes to the pocket of the farmer. The crop produced under industrial agriculture has developed demand in the global market also as US exports 60 percent of wheat and 30 percent of soybeans thus produced.

However the environmental costs of industrial agriculture is simply huge. Besides pollution and soil destruction, it also consumes large amounts of water, energy and chemicals.