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The difference between conventional and organic farming
There is a common misconception that organics is a new fad or something reserved for left-wing hippies, greenies or the well-to-do.
What people forget is that organic farming is actually the traditional way of farming. Conventional farming became the new norm for industrialised countries after the ‘green-revolution’ of the 1950s and 60s. This period saw the development of new seed varieties, and mass use of fertiliser and irrigation to produce higher yields.
The big difference between organic and conventional farming is that conventional farming relies on chemical inputs and a highly mechanised approach, whereas organics is about farming the natural way. Although, it is important to note that some large-sale organic farms still use conventional approaches such as mono-crops and some conventional farms also adhere to organic principles, using limited amounts of chemical inputs.
For ease, we have used the traditional definitions of ‘conventional’ and ‘organic’ farming when explaining the differences, however, an alternative approach to industrial farming which is gaining support is ‘agro-ecological farming’ This is a way of growing food that builds, rather than destroys ecosystems. Instead of spraying chemicals to get rid of pests, it is about growing plants that attract beneficial insects. Instead of applying fossil-fuel-based fertilisers to the soil, which destroys the soil’s capacity to regenerate, a technique is to lace the fields with legumes, which naturally help to fix nitrogen in the soil1. This approach shows promise for the future of food.
See more from Sustainable Table on Organics:
Find out more about why organics is a big part of the answer at the BFA guide to ‘What is organic?‘