Traditional Agriculture Vs Modern Agriculture

Agriculture is the industry that supports the most basic life need, food. Civilizations around the world had close ties with agriculture and in the post-industrialization period, world economies were mostly agrarian.  

Modernization has changed the face of agriculture although traditional agriculture is still prevalent in different parts of the world. Traditional agriculture uses primitive knowledge, traditional tools and organic fertilizers whereas modern farming uses technically advanced tools and machineries.

This session makes a comparison between traditional agriculture and modern agriculture.

Parameter Modern farming Traditional farming
Techniques Monocropping, precision agriculture etc Crop rotation, agroforestry, slash and burn cultivation etc
Fertilizers Chemical fertilizers Manure, vegetable waste, ash etc
Input Higher input required Lower input required
Number of crop varieties Less More
Knowledge system Scientific knowledge system Traditional knowledge system
Product standards High Low


Some common types of traditional farming are:

  • Slash And Burn Agriculture

In slash and burn agriculture, a forested land is cleared of its vegetation which is then burned on the same land.  The layer of ash that is formed after burning the vegetation enriches the soil with nutrients and the land is used for cultivating different crop varieties. After some years of cultivation, the land will be depleted of its nutrients after which it is abandoned to allow the natural vegetation to regrow and the soil regains its nutrients.

Slash and burn agriculture has been practiced in different parts of the world like Central America, Mexico, Brazil etc.

  • Agroforestry

The practice of mixing trees with crops began before thousands of years. The technique aims to exploit the ecological interactions of different components within the forest and cropland. Experts are promoting the practice of agroforestry, as it is a climate smart practice that improves food security and crop productivity.

  • Crop Rotation

In crop rotation technique, a sequence of plant species is grown on the same land. Cultivating same crop in a large area of land referred to as monocropping leads to decline in soil quality and climate change. Hence experts suggest crop rotation as an alternative cropping method.

Some common modern farming practices include:

  • Monocropping

Growing a single crop in a given piece of land is referred to as monocropping. The land has to be tilled in the same style as the same type of crops are planted, thereby making the cultivation process easy.


Traditional farming doesn’t involve the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Slash and burn agriculture depends on the natural replenishment of soil nutrients. Manure, kitchen refuse, waste from processing crops etc are used as fertilizers in traditional farming.

As modern farming techniques attempt to increase the productivity by multiple folds from available pieces of land, they use chemical fertilizers and pesticides more.


Maximizing the output from a given piece of land is the objective of modern farming, which is why it requires higher input of seeds, irrigation, fertilizers, and agrochemicals. Traditional farming is usually practiced to meet the food needs of a families or localities, thereby reducing the input of seeds, fertilizers and irrigation it will require.

Number Of Crop Varieties Produced

Adopting modern farming technology is not practical for cultivating all crop varieties because not all crops will be worth the money spent for implementing modern farming practices. Hence the number of commodity species produced in modern farming is less than that of traditional farming that can be efficiently used to cultivate underutilized and neglected species.

Crop Varieties

According to the soil conditions and climate of particular agricultural lands, special crop varieties including hybrids can be developed and cultivated using modern farming practices. Traditional farming methods hardly rely on hybrid crop varieties and instead depend on crop varieties that were traditionally cultivated in the lands.

Product Standards

Modern farming is especially used to meet specific market requirements, and hence has to maintain the standards lest they will lose the market value. Traditional farming is practiced to support local economies and communities, indicating that the products will have variable quality and might lack standards.

Selection Of Crop Variety

High quality seeds have to be selected to ensure the yield from the farms. The seeds used in modern farming are formed by employing scientific breeding techniques in research centers. In traditional farming, farmers select the seed varieties that are available locally.

Knowledge System

Modern farming uses scientific knowledge system that is continuously updated by newer innovations and technologies whereas traditional farming is dependent on traditional knowledge system that is passed on from one generation to the next.

Post Harvest Processing

As modern farming produces agricultural products that are sold in national and international markets, multiple post harvesting processes employing scientific techniques are involved in it. On the other hand, traditional farming involves low-tech post harvesting processes.


Modern farming aims to revolutionize the agriculture sector using several advanced techniques like precision agriculture technology, GPS technology etc to meet the growing needs of the global population.

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