Productivity is of particular interest to farmers, who want to maximise the net productivity of their farms.
Arable farmers want to maximise their NPP, while pastoral farmers want to maximise their NSP.
Intensive farming (practiced in developed nations) is ten times more productive.
Intensive farming is designed to maximise productivity (crop/meat/milk etc.) by making use of any appropriate technology. The huge increase in human population over the last few hundred years has beenpossible due to the development of intensive farming.
Intensive farming techniques to increase productivity include:
• Selective breeding. Most of the increases in primary productivity are due to selective breeding of crops and farm animals that grow faster and bigger.
• Fertilisers. Primary productivity is often limited by the availability of minerals in the soil, so fertilisers overcome this limitation and increase productivity.
Intensive Farming 2
• Pest Control. Loss of crops to pests decreases net productivity, so pest control measures increase productivity.
• Factory Farming. By rearing livestock indoors and feeding them specialised diets energy losses due to heat, movement and egestion are reduced. This increases net secondary productivity.
• Large Fields mean less farmland is wasted with hedgerows and field margins, so overall productivity for the land is increased.
• Monoculture means farmers can specialise in one type of crop and find the optimum conditions for maximum productivity.
• Mechanisation means crops can be sown and harvested more quicklyand reliably, cows can be milked more quickly and money can be saved by employing fewer farm workers.
Some of these strategies increase net productivity by increasing gross productivity (e.g.fertilisers), while others do it by decreasing respiratory loss (e.g. by factory farming). Manyof these methods require energy input from the farmer. Building livestock sheds; heating buildings, running farm machinery and producing fertiliser all require energy, usually in the form of burning fossil fuels. The farmer has to make sure that the gains in productivity outweigh the extra costs.