From Statistics Explained
Extensive farming, the opposite of intensive farming, is characterised by a low use of capital and labour (e.g. fertilisers, pesticides, machinery) relative to land area. The crop yields per unit of land are lower than in intensive agriculture.
Extensive farming in general is more beneficial to the environment. Due to a lower use of fertilisers and pesticides, the risks of nutrient and pesticide run-off into surface and groundwater are lower. However, the actual effect of the use of inputs on the environment is not only depending on the amount of inputs used, but also on how they are applied. Inputs like fertilisers are also needed to sustain soil fertility, when crops are harvested. Too little use of fertilisers may therefore also lead to environmental degradation.