Organic vs Conventional Farming: Which is Better in 2021?

Organic vs conventional farming

Did you know that over 72.3 million hectares of land are used worldwide for organic farming?

Not only that, near 44.7 billion euros is the total revenue that organic food captures in the US alone as per the reports published by Statista.

What does this mean?

It simply means that no matter what people say, the marketplace and demand for organic food is increasing at a constant rate since the history of organic farming – when it actually began.

In this definitive guide on organic vs conventional farming, I will tell you the exact differences between both and which one is better for you to start today.

Without any further delay, let’s learn step-by-step.

What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming or organic agriculture is the process of raising crops with the use of organic certified pesticides and methods.

The main purpose of organic farming is to preserve and sustain soil fertility, biodiversity, the environment, and most importantly – human and animal health.

Organic farming
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Organic farming is against the use of all those fatal synthetic fertilizers (like DDT) and GMOs that are available in the market.

What is Conventional Farming?

On the contrary, conventional farming is where crops are raised using synthetic pesticides and herbicides – and the methods used here have the main goal to increase the revenue by increasing the yields using more synthetic fertilizers.

Conventional farming
Image by Martin Ludlam from Pixabay

In terms of using pesticides where organic farming has only harmless pesticides approved, conventional farming allows using harmful pests such as DDT which is also one of the main reasons for deadly diseases like Cancer.

Besides impacting human health, synthetic fertilizers also lead to land degradation which in turn depletes the lifespan and fertility of the soil in a particular area where a large number of pesticides are sprayed.

If I want to summarize both of them in a few lines, I would say that – organic farming is harmless farming that promotes human as well as environmental wellbeing.

On the other hand, conventional or industrial agriculture largely focuses on profit by sometimes sacrificing the quality of the food as well as the land area.

But this is not the case all the time.

Note: Not every farmer that uses conventional farming has this profit mindset. It totally depends on the individual.

Now, as you know the base difference between the two, let’s move forward.

Though the main agenda of this article is to find out the answer to organic vs non-organic farming, you should also be aware of some similarities between the two.

Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

These are bare resemblances but it is better to know them all.

Pesticides

The use of pesticides and insecticides is allowed in both types of farming. The only difference lies in the type of pesticides permitted in both.

While synthetic fertilizers are allowed in conventional agriculture, only a few organic fertilizers are permitted in organic agriculture.

Also, organic fertilizers are made in the farm itself using the crop wastes green manures, bone meal, feather meal, etc.

However, synthetic fertilizers are usually created in chemical factories and purchased by the farmers from the agro agencies located in every small town.

Tools

Although organic farming requires more manpower than machines, there are some tools like tractors and threshers that both types will need mutually.

Though the use of manpower is higher than the machines in organic farming, there is still some usage for methods like tillage and so on.

Therefore, some tools and technology will always be the same in both.

These were the two main similar traits.

Now, let’s move on to the significant part of this article.

Organic vs Conventional Farming: The Difference

Yields

Organic farming usually yields a lesser quantity of crops than conventional farming.

Conventional farming yields a higher percentage of crops than organic farming due to the high use of growth hormones and industrial pesticides.

According to Science Direct, organic farming yields an average of 20% lower than conventional farming.

But, the premium pricing of organic food settles this matter in most cases.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Organic agriculture has a strict prohibition with the use of GMOs

Conventional arming allows the use of GMOs by altering the crop seeds through modern technology.

GMO is any living being whose DNA is altered with another organism of similar species with the main objective to derive the specific desired trait.

For decades, we have been using GMOs to modify animals such as mainly cattle and dogs to achieve desired looks.

The major con of conventional food grown using GMOs is that – they can lead to allergic reactions while some studies have also directly linked GMOs to Cancer.

Environmental impact

No land gets harmed in any way through organic farming. It rather helps sustain the land and maintain fertility for a long period.

The higher use of synthetic fertilizers leads to the exhaustion of the land in conventional farming.

Organic farming preserves the environment and reduces carbon footprint through Carbon sequestration.

Carbon sequestration, in simple terms, is the process of pulling the carbon from the air to the ground where it is truly required.

This helps decrease the carbon from where it is not required to where it is mostly needed: soil.

Cost of the product

The cost of the product in organic farming is higher due to the high quality and chemical-free raising. The cost of producing organic food is also high.

The cost in conventional farming is lower as it focuses higher on increasing quantity rather than quality.

A study confirms that organic food costs at least 10-20% higher than non-organic food (Source).

Methods

Organic agriculture largely uses methods such as crop rotations, intercropping, compost, organic livestock management, etc to fight harmful insects and grow crops the right way.

Conventional agriculture largely relies on GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, intensive tillage, etc.

Human health

Though there is no research proof to back the nutritional value of organic produce, it is logically healthier due to its natural and more efficient way of being upraised.

Due to the use of harmful fertilizers and various inappropriate techniques without any concern, the products of conventional farming may be lesser healthier to the consumer. It depends on the number of pests used while growing a crop.

You can count on organic food as it is prepared under strict benchmarks and general supervision.

Soil health

Organic farming is the main reason for maintaining and improving soil health. This is because it uses no such chemicals that will prove to be detrimental.

Higher use of chemicals in conventional farming leads to poor soil fertility in the years to come.

Pesticides

The pesticides allowed in organic agriculture are harmless.

Some of them are Compost, Green manures, Crop waste, Ivermectin, Pyrethrin, Rotenone, Elemental Sulfur, etc.

In conventional agriculture, the pesticides used are synthetic in nature and therefore, harmful.

They are DDT, man-made fertilizers, insect killers, herbicides, etc.

Organic vs conventional farming

This was the main battle of organic vs conventional farming.

Hopefully, these dissimilarities will help you better understand the type of farming that is best for you and why.

There may be many other differences but I found the above listed to be concrete and most commonly cited.

This concludes the article, I guess.

But before concluding, here are some of the FAQs that I think will be helpful for you.

You can read them for further knowledge concerning highly specific questions.

Commonly Asked FAQs on Organic Vs Conventional Farming

If your main focus while farming is to give maximum quality food to your consumers without compromising the soil fertility, then yes, organic farming is better than non-organic or conventional agriculture.

But if your main focus is to increase the overall profits by increasing the yields through synthetic fertilizers, then conventional farming is for you.

Practicing both by maintaining the balance is also a decent choice.

If you ever visit an organic food store, you will often find that the price of the food certified with the label ‘organic’ will be of a higher price than any typical product.

This is because organic products are raised through techniques that are harmless on the land as well as on humans.

Organic farming is better for the environment not only because it uses organic pesticides on its land but also because of the fact that organic farming promotes biodiversity and everyone’s wellbeing as well as food security.

The major difference between the two is – organic farming is chemical-free farming while conventional farming requires using some harsh chemicals which reduce the food quality to a certain extent.

The only limitation of organic farming is it requires more time to see results which initially increases the cost of land and labor.

But once the crops are turned into finished goods or even sold directly under the label ‘organic’, they usually get sold at a significant price which is higher than conventionally-grown food.

Conventional farming is not bad if done with utter supervision. People mistake conventional farming with using truckloads of dangerous pesticides.

You can use advised pesticides under a certain limit and still do conventional farming at the same time.

With many things strictly banned in organic farming, some of the core ones include: using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, growth hormones, GMOs, feeding non-organic food to the livestock, etc

What’s Your Take?

This was the definitive contrast between organic vs conventional farming. Hopefully, you learned something new from his article.

Lastly, I would like to say that out of the two, none is better or superior to the other.

Both have their own pros and cons. You may like some things that organic farming allows you to do while others of conventional farming.

Therefore, it does not matter which farming method you prefer to choose.

However, your primary goal should be producing foods that are 100% safe and healthy to eat.

And this is where organic farming has a more evergreen space, according to many.

This was all up to me.

Now, I would like to hear from you.

Out of both the famously practiced farming, which one is your favorite and why?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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2 Comments

  1. Soil diversity is happening to be reduced by every day because of anthropogenic materials. And that causes the need of bringing awareness about it and the benefits of organic farming. Bring it up.

    1. I didn’t know about Anthropogenic materials. Will have to research more about it. Thank you so much, Purvangi.

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