21 June, 2021

Organic and conventional cultivation

Organically cultivated food is food certified under the KRAV food-labelling scheme. To gain a KRAV label growers must use organic seed, not combine organic production with other production, use natural fertiliser and not use chemical pesticides or genetically modified organisms. 

Conventionally cultivated food does not have to meet the same criteria.

The differences between, and benefits of, organic and conventional cultivation have been the subject of many studies and discussions over the years. They have been the focus of much research, due to conventional [AG1] cultivation’s harmful effects on the environment in terms of biodiversity, soil quality and the spraying of poisons. On the other hand, studies have shown that organic cultivation produces a lower yield per square metre, meaning that a much larger area is required to generate the same yield compared to conventional cultivation. It also means that organic cultivation results in more deforestation than conventional cultivation.

”Organically cultivated food has a much greater climate impact than conventionally produced food. This is because organic cultivation requires larger areas of land, according to an international study produced by among others Chalmers University of Technology.” (from forsknings.se)

Consequently, conventional cultivation results in fewer net emissions and is, therefore, regarded as a more sustainable method of cultivation. 

Stefan Wirsenius, one of the researchers behind the study, believes that “Greater use of land in organic cultivation indirectly results in major COemissions due to deforestation”.

I believe that both conventional and organic cultivation offer significant development potential, and that their ongoing development and mutual competition will advance both methods. 

Agtira’s method is actually a unique combination of organic and conventional cultivation, where we harness the advanced technology offered by conventional cultivation with the application of natural fertilisers and pesticides used in organic cultivation. Unfortunately, we cannot be KRAV-certified due to the fact that we do not cultivate directly in the ground.

”All crops certified by KRAV must be cultivated in the ground. Anything cultivated in nutrient solutions – which is normal in commercial greenhouse cultivation – cannot be KRAV-certified.” (https://www.krav.se/krav-markt/det-har-ar-krav/mest-hallbara-odlingen/)

It is not clear why the KRAV label does not permit cultivation in nutrient solutions per se, although this would of course be understandable if we only used chemical nutrient solutions. I think that this merits further discussion due to the fact that we use waste water from fish farming. Agtira cultivates its plants in a natural nutrient solution, which I believe should be regarded as a natural fertiliser, and therefore our plants should be KRAV-certified.

I would also like to emphasise that our cultivation methods combine the benefits of conventional and organic cultivation. Our methods promote biodiversity and result in sustainable cultivation with a higher yield and generate fewer emissions. In addition, by using the same water for both vegetable cultivation and fish farming, Agtira keeps water utilisation to a minimum. Last but not least, Agtira constantly maximises its harvest by using AI technology to develop climate-management systems at its facility.

Adim Mizban B.Sc.