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Conventional Organic Farming and GROW BIOINTENSIVE
By Ecology Action Staff

Have you ever wondered what the differences between conventional organic farming and the GROW BIOINTENSIVE® method are? Here is a side by side comparison.

Conventional Organic Farming


Generally planted in rows.

Planted using hexagonal spacing that allows approximately 4 times the plants to occupy an equal area resulting in 2 to 6 times the yield.

Generally prepares soil to a depth of 6–8 inches.
Prepares soil to a depth of 24 inches, thus providing more air—the most essential element for healthy crop production, deeper water penetration and storage, and more root organic matter production. Fosters good soil structure, and, as a result, greatly increased nutrient cycling, which allows higher yields per unit of area and time.

Often does not add annual application of compost to the soil, thereby depleting the soil of organic matter over time. When compost is added, materials often come from off-farm, depleting soil elsewhere.
Adds annual applications of cured compost to all growing areas. The materials used to produce this cured compost are grown by the farm as carbon crops. Maximizes closed- system approaches by minimizing inputs of organic matter and fertilizer. This greatly reduces depleting of other soils.

Usually rotates crops and grows a wide diversity of crops for market.
In addition to rotation, careful planning and maximum crop and genetic diversity are used to increase production and ensure yields despite unfavorable growing circumstances. Encourages interplanting with legumes, when possible, which fosters on-site production of nitrogen.


Typically uses machinery for planting, maintenance and harvesting, which is expensive. For example, a rototiller has more than 2,000,000 calories of embodied energy, and each gallon of fuel is equal to 35,000 calories.

Uses only manual tools, making it available to most people worldwide. Minimizes soil compaction.
Recycling Soil Nutrients
and Organic Matter

Fertilizers and compost generally from off-farm and dependent on nonrenewable resources such as petroleum. In most forms of organic farming, the soil's nutrients and organic matter are not fully replenished, and the soil can be depleted approximately 7 to 70 times faster than it is built up naturally.

When fully and properly used, recycles all soil nutrients and organic matter, so that these levels are maintained and replenished. Can improve the health and structure of the soil, building fertile top soil up to 60 times faster than it is built up naturally.
Rows leave many unused farmable soil areas.
Intensive offset planting and other system practices maximize fertile soil and resource utilization. These, combined with a properly used, biologically intensive, living-soil, whole-system approach and deep soil structure, enable crop growing to be skill-intensive

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