A Comparative Study Between Sustainable (Organic) and Conventional Farming Systems and Their Ecological Impacts on the Earth

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A COMPARATIVE STUDY BETWEEN SUSTAINABLE (ORGANIC) & CONVENTIONAL FARMING SYSTEMS AND THEIR ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS ON THE EARTH BY

DENNIS LEE WAN-CHIEN

THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF MULTIMEDIA (FILM & ANIMATION) (by Research) in the Faculty of Creative Multimedia

MULTIMEDIA UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
October 2008

The copyright of this thesis belongs to the author under the terms of the Copyright Act 1987 as qualified by Regulation 4(1) of the Multimedia University Intellectual Property Regulations. Due acknowledgement shall always be made of the use of any material contained in, or derived from, this thesis.

© Dennis Lee Wan-Chien, 2008
All rights reserved

ii

DECLARATION

I hereby declare that the work have been done by myself and no portion of the work contained in this thesis has been submitted in support of any application for any other degree or qualification of this or any other university or institute of learning.

____________________ Dennis Lee Wan-Chien

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank the following people for their invaluable advice and many helpful suggestions: Dr. Ken Neo, Dr. Neo Mai and Ms. Long Yen Yen.

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DEDICATION

This thesis is dedicated to my family and friends, who have been with me through the years, in times of good and bad.

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ABSTRACT

The conventional farming model has been the agriculture industry’s preferred method of cultivating crops since the 20th century (“Conventional Farming”, n.d.). This model advocates the use of heavy machinery, chemicals and vast amounts of energy input. So far, the expenses have been justified in the results as conventional farming has been extremely productive, able to furnish low cost food (Altieri and Nicholls, 2001) and has been a great help in alleviating hunger during humanity’s major population expansions (Prasad, 2005).

However, questions have arisen over its environmental impact on the Earth, especially in the long term. Over-reliance on synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, among other aspects of conventional farming, is having major negative impacts on public health and the environment (Pimentel, Hepperly, Hanson, Douds and Seidel, 2005). Organic farming has emerged as a better way for farming to coexist with the Earth (Lampkin, 1999).

This research focuses on comparing the rival farming systems and its overall environmental impacts on the Earth. Focus was given to the areas of energy usage, soil health and biology, water contamination and air pollution.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

COPYRIGHT PAGE DECLARATION ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DEDICATION ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Introduction Research Questions Justification Methodology Scope Thesis Outline

ii iii iv v vi vii ix x 1 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 8 8 9 11 12 13 13 13 14 17

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Introduction Conventional Agriculture Organic Agriculture Environmental Issues Summary

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Introduction Study Categories Case Study Overview Summary

CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS 4.1 Introduction

18 18

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4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7

Energy Input Soil Composition Soil Biology Water Contamination Air Pollution Summary

19 21 24 25 26 27

CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION & CONCLUSION 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Introduction Discussion Limitations Future Study Recommendations Conclusion Summary

28 28 29 32 32 33 34 35

APPENDICES REFERENCES

36 37

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Energy balance in cereal crop rotation (gigajoules per hectare) in two farming systems (South-Western Slovakia; 2003 – 2005) 20

Table 2. Soil properties (milligram per kg of soil) in two farming systems (Eastern Sicily, Italy; 2002) 23

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Average energy inputs for corn and soybeans (millions of kilocalories per hectare per year) in...
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