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 high- 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 that 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, 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, irrigation systems are used in conventional farming.
- Mechanization of farm work- Farm machinery like tractors, harvesters, seed drills, etc., is used to improve productivity, 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.
Pros and cons of Conventional farming
- Increased food production- With the use of pesticides to kill the 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 estimate 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 is used.
- More meat yield 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 to keep the product price low and 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.
Initially, 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, water pollution and became hazardous to 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, salinization occurs in high-irrigated farmlands.
- Eutrophication- due to excess irrigation, the chemicals like phosphates, nitrates get leached into rivers, oceans and lakes. This encourages the dense growth of plant life, which depletes the dissolved oxygen. This becomes dangerous to aquatic lives.
- Overuse of surface and groundwater for irrigation reduces water availability.
- Several insects, pests and fungus 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 for 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 and the method should be channelized to provide food sustainably, reducing the health and environmental hazards.