Is Permaculture Better than Conventional Agriculture?

Permaculture is better than conventional agriculture as it’s guided by principles of self-sufficiency, eco-friendliness and sustainability as it mimics natural systems. Permaculture farmers practice biomimicry, by adopting systems that are designed to allow nature to do the majority of the work.

Essentially, permaculture aims to preserve the environment, while supporting sustainable ecosystems for food production. Conventional agriculture on the other hand, revolves on maximizing production, without concern for biodiversity and soil health.

Conventional agriculture involves the use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides which are detrimental to the environment. Permaculture is therefore the preferable and more beneficial farming system for long-term sustainability. 

Permaculture is good for the soil

Conventional agriculture is faced with perpetual problems such as depleted topsoil, contamination of the soil and groundwater, deforestation, and global warming. This type of agriculture aims to achieve mass food production to cater to the growing global population.

brown soil in orange plastic bucket
Photo by Greta Hoffman on

Therefore, it will incorporate use of chemicals, and monocultures meant to satisfy specific needs of the population. Permaculture solves most of these issues by working with nature instead of against it. There is no need for chemical inputs or large quantities of water.

Permaculture encourages the recycling, renewal and repairing of water resources and the replenishment of soil content. This makes it a better approach to farming than conventional agriculture because it can achieve similar levels of food production, but with less negative environmental impact. 

Diversity of yields

Permaculture encourages the diversity of species. This approach encourages the observation of your local environment and designing your farm to resemble nature. Therefore, you are able to support a wide range of animals and plants that increase biodiversity. This results in the development of a resilient system that can consistently withstand changing climatic conditions. 

Diverse permaculture farm
Photo by Tom Fisk

Conventional agriculture promotes mono-cropping which is bad for the soil. Chemical farming is more suited to monoculture cropping, due to specific inputs such as irrigation, harvesting methods and use of fertilizers.

Permaculture encourages multi-cropping and the integration of different farming systems. For example, you can practice agroforestry in permaculture. This makes permaculture the better farming method due to the integration of natural designs that increase the diversity of your crops and yield. 

Permaculture is less energy-intensive

Monocultures rely heavily on human involvement and are energy intensive. Conventional farming will involve the use of machinery that require significant amounts of fuel and energy.

green tractor plowing the fields on focus photography
Photo by Jannis Knorr on

Further, human involvement is required at each level of development to ensure a specific type and amount of yield. Permaculture is labor intensive in the initial stages, but once the plants are established, it requires little human involvement.

The principles of permaculture aim to minimize waste, human labor and energy input by adopting a more holistic system. Default agricultural practices produce a lot of waste, often dumped onto water sources.

Permaculture requires the farmer to examine each step of the process to examine how any waste generated can be reintegrated back into the system. You should ideally recycle and repurpose everything in permaculture as best as you can. 

Permaculture has economic benefits

Permaculture is an economically sustainable practice. Good design and efficient management in permaculture lead to the development of stable systems that are socially and environmentally responsible.

farm harvest

Once your permaculture crops are well established, they will ensure regular yield for many years. You will not need to spend any money on replanting or purchasing fertilizers to boost your yield. In an ideal permaculture system, natural processes will determine the quality and frequency of your yield.

The economic benefits of permaculture may take longer to manifest compared to those of conventional agriculture. Traditional and industrial farming will lead to faster profits, but they are unsustainable. Permaculture will take longer to produce a profitable yield, but you will enjoy the economic benefits for longer. 

Can permaculture replace modern agriculture?

Yes, permaculture can replace modern industrial agricultural practices. It can support high production with less input, while building resilience among small farmers, improving soil health and encouraging self-sufficiency.

Conventional agriculture focuses on few market-driven crops. This means most consumers restrict their dietary choices to certain cereals and vegetables under mass production. Consequently, industrial farming has neglected various food choices that offer significant nutritional and health benefits.

Permaculture opens up the opportunity to supplement the global food basket. Additionally, permaculture replenishes the soil and saves on the cost of fertilizer. The principles of permaculture emphasize on the nourishment of soil, which keeps plants in the soil for longer. Permaculture farms are more resilient and can weather harsh conditions just like forests and other naturally occurring systems.  This means less labor input and more yield in tough climatic conditions. 


There has been little research done on the potential of permaculture to be exploited for mass food production. However, permaculture has proven to be a dependable and sustainable approach for farming that can replace conventional agricultural practices.