Are there different forms of Agriculture? The short answer here is obviously yes. So what are some of those forms?
Commercial Agriculture: This category is pretty straight forward. In this method producers (farmers) provide their products on a commercial scale. This usually takes the form of massive monocultures. A monoculture is an agricultural system in which a single product is raised at a time. This typically serves the purpose of generating maximal income for the farmer. In order to accomplish this task commercial farmers tend to have much higher input costs. These come in the form of mortgages on land, large machinery costs, fuel, seed, labor, chemically derived fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and time. The major upside of this form of agriculture is the ability to produce a larger quantity than non commercial producers. This is the form of agriculture that most of us encounter most often. These producers are the ones that sell their goods in retail grocery stores and places like Wal-mart. These goods are generally less expensive per unit and are available over a broad time domain. What this means to us the consumer is that we can go get the same groceries almost year round at reasonable price. Is this the best way to things? That depends on who you are. For many commercial agriculture is the way to feed the world, and it can, to some extent. A large downside however is the reliance on fossil fuels. Tractors and machinery require oil and diesel to operate. Chemical fertilizers and many pesticides are derived from petroleum also. There is also the supply to consider. Commercially grown food does not go straight from the farm to the retailer. It must stop for cleaning, packaging, and shipping. The transportation requires diesel to run planes, and tractor trailers.
I think I will make this a multi-part series about different forms of agriculture. Hopefully the next part in the series will center on CSA’s.