Pros and Cons of Agricultural Expansion
Since the Agricultural Revolution began in the 18 th century, agriculture has continued to rapidly expand
and develop. Agricultural expansion refers to the phenomenon of agriculture constantly expanding at
exponential rates worldwide. The Agricultural Revolution of the 18 th and 19 th centuries was influenced by
many powerful changes in the agriculture industry. There were improvements in the way land was
allocated for farming in order to maximize efficiency, including the introduction of crop rotation
methods. Technological advances brought about new methods and machinery for improving agricultural
production. Advancements in breeding has allowed for the introduction of new crop species and cross-
strains, ultimately allowing for the introduction of genetically modified organisms that have been
scientifically altered for modern purposes.
Although the Agricultural Revolution may have ended, agricultural expansion has continued all the while
and shows no signs of slowing down. There are many serious advantages and disadvantages to modern
agricultural expansion. While this expansion has served to meet some of our most important needs in
life, there are always unintended consequences that deserve to be thoroughly analyzed and fully
considered. It is especially important for individuals in the agribusiness industry to understand both the
advantages and disadvantages that come with agricultural expansion. This allows agribusiness
professionals to develop a deeper understanding for these globally relevant concerns, therefore making
them better equipped to apply such knowledge to their local region. Becoming mindful of these pros
and cons will be of aid in the creation of new solutions for mitigating unintended consequences of
agricultural expansion. Ultimately a major goal in agriculture is to achieve superior sustainable
agriculture development practices.
The primary advantage of agricultural expansion is the way that expansion has made an invaluable
contribution to addressing the problem of global hunger issues. Worldwide hunger, food insecurity and
malnourishment are longstanding global concerns. The rapid expansion of modern agriculture has
produced food products at such a rate that there are now less hungry, malnourished people in the
world. Worldwide hunger is now better addressed than ever before, and this is true in spite of alarming
world population growth. Although the world population continues to grow exponentially, agricultural
expansion has also grown at incredible rates, helping to prevent what otherwise would be a growing
number of people experiencing hunger, food insecurity and malnourishment worldwide.
Even at a local level, excess agricultural products are often provided to foodbanks and churches that in
turn feed hungry families living in the local community. Meat is a major food source for the majority of
Americans as well as many other countries and communities worldwide. Without modern animal
husbandry there would not be any meat available for purchase in grocery stores, nor would it be
available to be served in restaurants. It has been necessary for agriculture to constantly expand and
grow in order to meat the growing food needs for both the United States and the entire world. It is easy
to take the availability of so many food products and agriculturally derived materials for granted in our
modern world, but none of these would be available if it was not for the expansion of agriculture.
Another major advantage to agricultural expansion is the plethora of economic benefits that the
industry offers. Agribusiness has created countless jobs that enable so many individuals to support
themselves and their families. Farmhands and laborers are often able to find physical work in areas
where agriculture is a dominant industry. Agricultural production requires management and oversight
from experienced professionals who understand their industry. Agriculture engineers, agronomy
experts, biochemists, bioinformatics scientists, environmental engineers, geneticists, food scientists, and
even agricultural economists all lend their expertise to this constantly expanding industry. The food and
beverage industry relies on agricultural expansion for food products and ingredients to serve in grocery
stores and restaurants. Even the adult beverage industry counts on the increased production of
agricultural products. This is also true for many household products and apparel garments that are also
sourced in whole or part by agriculture, including paper products, cotton and wood.
While these major advantages to agricultural expansion have offered society so many invaluable
benefits, the disadvantages are very grave and deserve meaningful consideration. A primary
disadvantage to agricultural expansion would be its impact on the composition of natural ecosystems.
Ecosystems affected by agricultural expansion may begin lacking in biodiversity and start functioning
differently. This is in addition to the introduction of harmful chemicals used in herbicides and pesticides.
When introduced into the natural ecosystem, these changes can have a negative effect on the balance
of life that existed before agriculture introduced these changes to the local area. Agriculture expansion
is also responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Marine ecosystems and natural freshwater sources can be adversely affected by dramatic increases of
nitrogen and phosphorus. This process is called eutrophication. When natural water sources are
eutrophied by released nitrogen and phosphorus, the natural biodiversity of that ecosystem is likely to
suffer. Often algae will grow excessively and oxygen will be depleted. The eutrophication of natural
bodies of water is an example of water pollution of global concern. Tropical deforestation is also
unfortunately caused primarily by agricultural expansion. Even tropical rainforests have been cut down
to clear the way for cash crops, such as coffee and tea.
Although there are drawbacks to agricultural expansion, agriculture industry professionals have made
great strides in developing solutions to help mitigate these serious concerns. Agriculture science has
developed methods for sustainable development in agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is agriculture
production that is done with the utmost care to protect limited natural resources. With an appropriate
focus on sustainable agriculture practices, agricultural expansion may continue its path in a more eco-
friendly direction by committing resources towards practices that best preserve precious natural