Conventional farming involves a regular approach to farming.
Contrary to its name, conventional framing is different from traditional farming.
It is a modern approach to farming that uses chemicals, machinery, and technology to increase the yield.
The process is also called intensive agribusiness or industrial farming and is non-sustainable.
Conventional farming is one of the most practiced farming methods, which is highly- productive and uses large areas under cultivation.
It involves high capital investment and technological innovations.
Why conventional farming?
With the increasing population, the world needs to complement the food supply.
The traditional method of farming failed to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of the population.
This resulted in the introduction of the green revolution. As a part of the green revolution, the use of chemicals increased for growing crops.
Conventional farming was the result of the green revolution and it became popular.
This method of farming helps to feed the world and make greater profits with increased yield.
Facts on Conventional Farming
- Conventional farming is resilient to herbicides and fungicides for optimum cropping.
- The intensive farming method uses less land and makes more profit
- Conventionally grown apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries, potatoes, green beans, kale, and other greens are among the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides.
- Conventionally grown onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangos, eggplant, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, and mushrooms have some of the lowest pesticide levels.
- Livestock is mostly induced with antibiotics and hormones and given highly concentrated feed to improve milk production.
Characteristics of Conventional Farming
- Extensive use of chemicals- pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are used to control pests and diseases, weeds and enrich soil nutrients, respectively.
- Rapid technological innovation- Intensive technology like drones and irrigation systems are used in conventional farming.
- Mechanization of farm work- Farm machinery, like tractors, harvesters, seed drills, etc., is used to improve productivity and reduce waste and labor.
- High-yielding hybrid verities are used to increase yield
- Genetically modified crops are used for resistance against certain pests. Ex- Bt. cotton
- Large-scale farms are used for growing crops
- Monoculture- generally, a single crop is grown on the farm as the chemicals will not be effective on multiple crops.
- Capital investment- Large capital investments in technology and equipment are needed for machinery and land.
Dependency on agribusiness becomes more due to the use of chemicals, machinery, etc.
Conventional farming vs. Organic farming
|Age of practice||Here the farmers become dependent on industry for seeds, fertilizer and pesticides.||It is a new practice and started in the last few decades. Perhaps after the industrial revolution|
|Input material||Mostly synthetic ones derived from industry||Present since ages like from ancient history. Perhaps like some thousands of years ago.|
|Dependency||Animals, microbes, and insects can live in a harmonious fashion.||Natural and derived from plants and animal sources.|
|Environment hazard||It is hazardous to the environment as it causes pollution of soil, water, and air.||Here the farmer has the freedom and is not dependent on others.|
|Effect on nature||Here the farmers become dependent on industry for seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides.||It is nonpolluting and facilitates sustainable living.|
|Cost||The cost of input material is very high and keeps on rising.||The cost of input materials is very low and decreases over time.|
Pros and cons of Conventional farming
- Increased food production- With the use of pesticides to kill pests and herbicides to inhibit the growth of weeds, our plant health gets boosted and they get more protection. Thus, less crop is damaged and it ensures more yield.
- Feed the world- with an estimated population of 10 billion population; there is a high need to produce adequate food. With conventional farming, we can gain more yield in less area. So it is a better option.
More milk production as animals of higher yield breeds are used.
- More meat yields due to better varieties of breed, food and care.
- Lower cost- as it is produced in large quantities, fewer resources and labor are used. Mass production enables us to keep the product price low; even the consumers get it at fair prices. So it is a win-win situation for both parties.
- More job opportunities- With high mechanization and the use of technology, skilled human capital is required in the process of innovation and dissemination of technology. This strengthens the employment opportunities in the agribusiness sector.
- Conventional farming appeared as the best option, but its adverse effects were known after the 1980s.
- Using extensive pesticides and fertilizers made the pests develop resistance against these chemicals, caused soil degradation and water pollution, and became hazardous to the human, animal, and aquatic lives.
Impact on the Environment
- A decline in soil productivity- use of chemicals hamper biological activity and organic matter in the soil, water holding capacity is reduced, and salinization occurs in high-irrigated farmlands.
- Eutrophication- due to excess irrigation, the chemicals like phosphates and nitrates get leached into rivers, oceans, and lakes.
- This encourages the dense growth of plant life, which depletes dissolved oxygen. This becomes dangerous to aquatic life.
- Overuse of surface and groundwater for irrigation reduces water availability.
- Several insects, pests, and fungi became resistant to pesticides. They affect pollinators and beneficial insects, disturbing the entire ecosystem.
- With the need for a large area under cultivation, deforestation has become popular.
- This increases the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, it becomes a cause of climate change.
Impact on humans
- Residues of pesticides enter the food chain and contaminate food and drinking water. These are considered to cause serious illnesses like cancer.
- In conventional farming, we focus on staple crops. This limits the availability of different kinds of food and distorts a balanced diet. So it may cause malnutrition or obesity.
- A disadvantage to small farmers- farmers with large farmland will dominate. Landless laborers and small farmers will be affected by this method of farming.
- Conventional farming is beneficial for food security and the economy. It has benefits, but the disadvantages may outweigh those benefits.
- So, the proper focus must be done to reduce the ill effects of conventional farming.
The method should be channelized to provide food sustainably, reducing health and environmental hazards.
Frequently asked questions and answers
Why did conventional farming become unprofitable
Convention farming became unprofitable due to the increased need for expensive synthetic inputs with each passing year.
Every year, for better yield, the farmer needs to add more synthetic inputs, which could be way higher than the actual returns from the crop yield.
Why do most farmers use conventional farming?
Due to more advertisements by the companies involved in synthetic farm produce and also a lack of knowledge of sustainable inputs in soil health