Conventional farming is a form of farming which is almost a norm for industrialized countries nowadays that uses new seed varieties and genetically modified (GM) seeds, massive quantities of synthetic or chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels rather than animal manure and plants, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, huge machinery, irrigation and heavy plowing to maximize crop yields and profitability.
Unlike organic farming which is the traditional way of farming that raises animals and crops together, conventional farming engages in large scale mono cropping of growing the same type of crop on the same field year after year and relies heavily on chemical inputs and highly mechanized approach as well as heavy tillage.
Conventional farming requires livestock to be raised on "concentrated animal feeding operations" (CAFOs) separate from farms for mass-produced crops and allows antibiotics and hormones to be introduced to livestock, factory farming and practices that compromise with animal welfare regulations (See article "Sustainable Table > Hungry for info > conventional and organic farming").
One school of thought is that it is still possible to feed a population of 10 billion people using an intensified method of farming by either the alternative or conventional method and without using more land simply by adopting multi-cropping, more efficient irrigation method, higher labour quality and lower reliance of agrochemicals which small farms in developing countries do (See Science for Environment Policy report on Alternative agriculture: key to preserving food security and biodiversity issued by the European Commission dated 23 January 2013).
Another school of thought recommends a “hybridized system between the large-scale industrial and organic farming” which “will yield much better benefits and make current farming much more sustainable”. It is believed that it is not possible to switch from industrial to organic practice completely without leading to “a dip in agricultural productivity…many drastic changes within the infrastructure of farming companies, workers, and production methods”. Unlike industrial farming, organic farming requires a great deal more labour and workers say for weeding which is done by hand and not by fertilizers. Workers will need to be trained and it will not be easy for a large scale enterprise engaged in industrialized farming to train or secure the employment of trained workers within a short time. Since the world has been dependent on large quantities of food produced by industrial farming for some time, it will suffer a shortage of food if industrial farming is immediately converted to organic farming. An immediate conversion of the farming system can give rise to debates and complaints from large scale industrial farmers and industrial farm workers.