Various Agricultural Models

by Maude Saint-Hilaire translation : Lucy Savage  photos : La Fermette, Hemmingford (June 2021)

A multitude of farming practices provide the framework for various agricultural models. Throughout history, each model was designed to meet requirements reflective of the times using available technology and knowledge. Today, conventional agriculture is the most common model used worldwide. At the beginning of the 20th century, labour shortages following the First World War, coupled with population and economic pressures, led to the increased use of mechanization and synthetic chemicals. This methodology enabled efficient and stable production, making use of greater surface areas with less labour. Today, the primary objective of this model is to maximize productivity using agricultural inputs (fertilizer, energy and pesticides) for pest elimination.

Despite the numerous advantages associated with the conventional agricultural model, several key issues related to intensive farming practices have been identified. Specifically, these include production associated changes to the natural environment such as the soil, air and water, and in turn, biodiversity. In order to mitigate the potential impact of these issues and to address consumer concerns, alternate farming models continue to emerge.

The organic agricultural model is centered upon environmentally favourable practices. Its goals are to sustain the health of the surrounding environment, ecosystems and animals, thus maintaining biodiversity and ensuring the responsible management of natural resources. In this model, the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), irradiation and certain artificial agents used in food processing, are prohibited. Furthermore, the term “organic” is designated by the MAPAQ and is thus strictly regulated according to provincial law. As with any model, it has its limitations and drawbacks. For example, the criteria used to define organic practices and produce may vary from one country to another. This can be challenging when a particular product is banned in one country and not another. Moreover, the increased cost of organic produce may be a financial barrier for some consumers. For these reasons, among others, buying locally is a consistent and reliable option.

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach incorporates both conventional and organic practices. Cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical methods are all considered to prevent, manage and control pests such as weeds, insects and micro-organisms, in an effective manner that is both economically and environmentally sound.

Implementation of the IPM approach is a multi-step process that includes: 1) prevention (knowledge and familiarity with the crop, associated pests and various control techniques), 2) monitoring (documented), 3) implementation of solutions (interventions used, assessment of efficacy and continued monitoring). To learn more about IPM, please visit: (English only) or (French only).

Opting for foods that are limited in synthetic pesticides and artificial agents may be a preferred choice, though enjoying all fruits and vegetables is important in consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Selecting locally grown produce, regardless of the agricultural model, remains an optimal choice as it supports healthy eating and sustainable economic development in our region.

Additional References: Library of Parliament. Organic Agriculture in Canada. Publication No. 2020-07-E, 1 May 2020. Corentin Bialais, Economics, Resources and International Affairs Division. Canadian General Standards Board CAN/CGSB: 32.310-2020 Organic Production Systems, General Principles and Management Standards. Available at: 310/032-310-eng.html.Accessed: March 30, 2021.