There have been many definitions of Sustainable Intensification (SI). The term can mean different things to different people, according to their individual perspectives and goals. In a farming context, SI generally involves managing farmland to increase farm output and competitiveness, whilst protecting the countryside and enhancing environment and social benefits. 'Intensification' of farming should not be confused with 'intensive' farming. SI does not assume a shift from less to more intensive modes, or vice versa. Instead, farmland is managed to maximise outcomes across economic, environmental and social dimensions.
What constitutes SI may not always directly benefit those instigating change, nor produce a benefit on the same scale at which a change was made. What is measured as sustainable and beneficial using one scale or indicator may not be when using others.
SI can benefit people locally, for example increasing rural income; regionally, for example by improving air and water quality; or globally, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural land. For SI to be effective, collaboration between the farming community, academia, industry experts and policy makers, is vital.