We’re very familiar with commercial farming, where farmers grow their crops to sell and make a profit. Substinence farming, in contrast, is when a farmer grows only what his or her family needs to survive. Substinence farming, most common in under developed countries, is all about self-sufficiency. Productivity, compared to commercial farming, is low, and so is the output of harmful pollutants into the environment. (Open Geography Education)

What are the key differences between substinence and commercial farming?

There are many differences between the two styles of farming, but a few are:

–       Involvement in crop and livestock: In substinence farming, the farmer is almost always involved in both crop and livestock production. In commercial farming, a farmer is typically only involved in one of these areas to yield a higher profit.

–       Scale: Substinence farms are typically much smaller in size to their commercial counterparts. This is because substinence farming is only geared for a family’s individual needs; excess materials can be sold, but profit is not the primary goal, unlike commercial farms where sheer size is needed to grow more crops or graze more livestock.

–       Technology: Commercial farming tends to require more industrial and technologically advanced equipment, which also makes them contribute more pollutants than substinence farms which are smaller scale and use less or no machinery.

–       Chemicals: Substinence farming rarely uses inorganic pesticides and fertilizers, whereas commercial farms employ them heavily to increase their yield.

–       Variety: In substinence farming, a variety of crops are harvested and livestock are tended to from a need for a diversified food source. However, commercial farms tend to focus on only one or two crops.

(Difference Between)

The production yield of substinence farming is not enough to sustain a global population, but its commercial farming counterparts all too often emit massive amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere. A balance that melds the productivity of commercial farming with the environmentally friendly impact of substinence farming—sustainable agriculture—is the answer to feeding our world safely and effectively. (Subsistence, Commercial, and Sustainable Agriculture)