intensification of agriculture

intensification of agriculture

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Intensification of Agriculture


the ongoing and increasing investment of the means of production and labor per unit of ground area or, in animal husbandry, per head of livestock; application of the achievements of science and advanced practice; and improvement in methods of management and in the technology of production. In these ways the productivity of animals and land is systematically increased and a maximum of production is obtained from every hectare with minimum expenditures of labor and resources per unit of production.

K. Marx defined intensification of agriculture as “the concentration of capital upon the same plot rather than its distribution among several adjoining pieces” of land (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 25, part 2, p. 227). Developing this thought, V. I. Lenin observed: “Indeed, the very term ‘additional (or successive) investments of labor and capital’ presupposes changes in the methods of production and reforms in technique. In order to increase the quantity of capital invested in land to any considerable degree, new machinery must be invented, and there must be new methods of land cultivation, stock breeding, transport of products, and so on and so forth” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 5, p. 101). Intensification is a progressive, constantly growing process that embraces all spheres of agricultural production.

Lenin pointed out that intensification of agriculture is “not some accidental, local, casual phenomenon, but one that is common to all civilized countries” (ibid., vol. 27, p. 168).

In capitalist countries the intensification of agriculture is a spontaneous and contradictory process. Capitalist intensification of agriculture is one of the main ways whereby capital penetrates agricultural production in order to obtain maximum profit. The process is accomplished by rapacious use of the land and the crudest exploitation of the toiling masses of the peasantry, and it leads to mass impoverishment and disaster for small and medium-size farms. In the USA, for example, the total number of farms decreased from 6,097,000 in 1949 to 2, 976,000 in 1969, a reduction of more than 50 percent. During approximately the same time the number of farms decreased 30 percent in the Federal Republic of Germany, 34 percent in Canada, 26 percent in Sweden, and 14 percent in Great Britain.

Under socialism the intensification of agriculture is based on communal socialist ownership and abets the development of production and social relationships to satisfy the rapidly growing needs of the working people. Planned intensification of agriculture has become possible in the USSR only as a result of the country’s industrialization and the socialist transformation of the countryside.

The Communist Party and the Soviet government view intensification as the general trend in improving agriculture and developing its productive forces. The Program of the CPSU points out that the main way to improve agriculture and satisfy the growing needs of the country for agricultural production is the all-around mechanization and ongoing intensification of production (see Programma KPSS 1971, p. 76). The problems of intensifying agriculture were posed with particular acuity by the March 1965, May 1966, and July 1970 plenums of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU (1971), which established a long-term comprehensive program for developing agriculture on the basis of all-around intensification.

The intensification of agriculture is based on unbroken technical progress and is being carried out on the basis of improving agriculture’s material and technical base; increasing the production of mineral and organic fertilizers, the means of protecting plants, and chemical preparations for animal husbandry; increasing comprehensive mechanization in agriculture and animal husbandry; developing irrigation, land improvement, and liming of acid soils; introducing advanced practices; perfecting the structure of planted areas; developing intensive cultivated and technical crops; replacing low-yield plantings by high-yield special strains; introducing consistent specialization both by zones and within farms; constructing large complexes and factories for the production of meat, milk, eggs, and vegetables, with extensive use of automation and electronics, and of the achievements of biochemistry, microbiology, and so on; and improving the material incentives of personnel for obtaining a larger amount of production.

Tremendous efforts have been made to intensify agriculture in the USSR. The power capacity of agriculture at the end of 1970 had reached 224 million kilowatts (kW) (336.4 million hp), an increase of seven times over 1940. The energy available to labor, calculated per single worker, increased 22.4 times and totaled 7.44 kW (11.2 hp), as opposed to 0.368 kW (0.5 hp) on peasant farms in 1913–17. Deliveries of mineral fertilizers to agriculture are increasing at a rapid rate. In 1913 they totaled 188,000 tons (in standard units); in 1970 they totaled 45,649,000 tons. Considerable irrigation construction has been done over the years of Soviet power. In comparison with the pre-revolutionary level (1916), the total irrigated land and land with a drainage network increased more than 2.5 times. Intensification of animal husbandry is marked by an increase in the number of livestock and in the production of livestock products per unit of land surface.

The intensification of agriculture is a complicated process embracing all of the basic aspects of the economics of agriculture. It is characterized by a system of indexes: the production funds per unit of land surface, the value of farm machinery and equipment, expenditures of fertilizer per unit of land surface, and the value of gross and marketable produce per unit of land surface and per ruble of fixed and working capital. Among the main synthetisized indexes of the intensification of agriculture are the rate of increase of labor productivity, of reduction of unit cost of production, of increase of the yield of farm products and productivity of animals, of increase of gross and net income, and of increase of profitability of production. Years of experience in the USSR and developed countries abroad show that the higher the level of intensification of agriculture, other things being equal, the higher the yield of agricultural crops and the productivity of animals, gross harvests and revenues, and labor productivity and the lower the unit cost.

The gross output of agriculture in 1970 increased by 104 percent over that of 1940 for the USSR as a whole; the area under cultivation increased by 37 percent during that time.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 25, part 2, p. 227.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, pp. 140, 159–60, 167–68, 191–92.
Lenin, V. I. Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 101, 106.
Programma Kommunisticheskoi partii Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moscow, 1971. Page 75.
Brezhnev, L. I. O neotlozhnykh merakh po dal’neishemu razvitiiu sel’-skogo khoziaistva SSSR: Doklad na Plenume TsK KPSS 24 marta 1965 g.—Postanovlenie Plenuma TsK KPSS, priniatoe 25 marta 1965 goda. Moscow, 1965.
Brezhnev, L. I. O khode vypolneniia reshenii XXIII s”ezda i plenumov TsK KPSS po voprosam sel’skogo khoziaistva: Doklad na Plenume TsK KPSS 30 okt. 1968 g.— Postanovlenie Plenuma TsK KPSS, priniatoe 31 okt. 1968 g. Moscow, 1968.
Brezhnev, L. I. Ocherednye zadachi partii v oblasti sel’skogo khoziaistva: Doklad na Plenume TsK KPSS 2 iuliia 1970 goda.—Postanovlenie Plenuma TsK KPSS. priniatoe 3 iuliia 1970 goda. Moscow, 1970.
Materialy Maiskogo (1966 goda) Plenuma TsK KPSS. Moscow, 1966.
Materialy XXIII s“ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1966.
Materialy XXIVs“ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo SSSR v 1969 g.: Statisticheskii ezhegodnik. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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