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intensive agriculture

  In opposition to extensive forms of agriculture which involve seasonal patterns of transitory land use over large areas, intensive agriculture is characterized by the repeated cultivation and/or grazing of the same area of land using supplementary energy inputs (Simmons, 1996). They are, in other words, land-intensive and require a large number of inputs per hectare to maintain or increase the volume of output year on year. Over the course of the twentieth century these inputs have become increasingly artificial, including chemical fertilizers and pesticides; animal pharmaceuticals; mechanization; and genetic engineering (see, for example, Healey and Ilbery, 1985; Goodman et al., 1987). As these technologies have become established, so the range of soils and environmental conditions amenable to intensive agriculture has increased.

Intensive agricultural practices have become closely associated with growing public concerns about the environmental and food safety problems of industrial systems of production (Clunies-Ross and Hildyard, 1992). These problems range from water pollution caused by agricultural chemical runoff and the loss of biodiversity associated with monocultures, to the incubation and spread of animal diseases like BSE. (See also agricultural geography; extensive agriculture.) (SW)

References Goodman, D., Sorj, B. and Wilkinson, J. 1987: From farming to biotechnology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Clunies-Ross, T. and Hildyard, P. 1992: The politics of industrial agriculture. London: Earthscan. Healey, M. and Ilbery, B., eds, 1985: Industrialisation of the countryside. Norwich: Geobooks. Simmons, I. 1996: Changing the face of the earth. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, ch. 6.



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Other Terms : opportunity costs | nearest neighbour analysis | urban managers and gatekeepers
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