In the past
few years, the importance of the way we eat and live our lives has gained much
needed attention. However, there are so many terms thrown around about farming
nowadays it’s hard to keep up with what it all means. Before the 1950's,
"farming" was all agricultural activity, but new terms have evolved
and it may be useful to clarify them as we see agriculture growing in Easton
1. Traditional farming
This is the type of farming carried out throughout the world for millennia past. It is characterized by self-sufficiency, age-old traditions of animal husbandry and natural methods of fertilizing
2. Modern farming
Modern farming, as we know it, began to develop in the West during the 1920's. It is typified by a more intensive use of land and buildings, mechanization and the use of artificial, chemical fertilizers, weed and pest control. This was the start of the transition into industrialized farming and large companies developing to stimulate and supply the needs of industrialized farming.
3. Factory farming
In the last half of the 20th Century, certain areas of modern farming have become even more intense and farm animals are now being mass-produced in industrial conditions. The most extreme example is poultry, where some units hold millions of birds in small, individual cages. Pigs are probably the next, most intensively produced farm animal with units of hundreds of thousands of pigs (The numbers are in the millions in the US) housed in factory-like buildings. Beef and other farm animals are also produced in large feed lots and kept in slatted-floor housing. High-protein rations (including until recently, meat and bone meal) artificial hormones and antibiotics are fed to the animals to forcibly improve productivity in such dire living conditions.
4. Biotech farming
This controversial type of farming has developed mainly in the last 20 years. The technology is designed to increase agricultural productivity by genetically engineering or manipulating (GM ) genes in plants, sometimes by adding animal genes. GMO crops have been developed to be resistant to specific herbicides and pests.
5. Sustainable farming
This is a term that needs some standardizing. Organic and sustainable are often
used interchangeably. Yet organic can be unsustainable, even industrialized, in
certain circumstances, and sustainable need not be organic. Sustainable
agriculture encourages the recycling of natural wastes, such as manures, and
encourages appropriate technology
6. Biointensive Farming
Biointensive gardening, sometimes called mini-farming, is a combination of Irish lazy-bed, 19th C. French raised-bed, and Chinese traditional methods of farming. It claims enormous outputs from a very small area –enough to feed a family from a few hundred square feet of land. This can have great production results but the yield may be the only good thing. Without rest time for the soil (crop rotation) depleting the soil web may be the down side to this technique.
7. Biodynamic farming
Basically the same as organic farming but with a more esoteric and philosophical base. Part of the anthroposophic teaching of Austrian, Rudolf Steiner, it purports to help the health-giving forces of nature with special methods and preparations. The farm works in harmony with nature, moon phases, and the use of manure from the farm. Some also would call this close circuit farming.
9. Organic farming
Organic farming developed in modern times as a response to what was perceived to be the polluting of our food supply by modern and factory farming methods and the ensuing degradation of the environment from chemicals and other by-products of the industry.
With this all said, I believe in the union of Sustainable
and BioDynamic Farming. Through work I have done on several projects over the
past year, I have come to find out that “certified organic” is a term developed
by the USDA as a marketing tool. The issues are that with the ongoing changes
to the chemical industry, pesticides are getting the green label of organic
more and more. So how long before we
lose the wholesome value of the term organic? Well, before humans took control,
the eco system was balanced and providing for its own. Low impact,
environmentally friendly farming practices make sense. I have developed a model of a true,
sustainable, biodynamic farm. One
colleague said in a forum that sustainable, small scale farming is not
profitable. I ask that person, what is profitable? If one is able to live happily, be healthy and
pay for all their family’s needs then that is profitable. High crop production does not mean profitable.
Which type of farming do you believe in?