Traditional or old-type farming or early farming was focused more on subsistence than actually growing anything to sell, like with the modern farming methods. It involved much more manual labour and for longer hours than the more modern methods of today. Cropland was smaller, horses and oxen or steam-engines were used primarily for tilling, seeding and harvesting fields and crops, and there were no such things as fertilizer or pesticide chemicals to use in the fields, nor were there GMO crops nor nearly as many cultivars or varieties of a certain crop species to choose from. Farmers were highly dependent on climate and the weather to be able to bring in some profit margin or to help put food on the table. Livestock were always grazed out of doors, and managed just enough so that the offspring could be sold for some sort of profit. Selective breeding wasn 't really started until 400 years ago (or around the 18th century).
Modern farming is still highly dependent on climate and weather to be able to bring in a profit. Except for greenhouses, the vast majority of farms that grow crops cannot grow them indoors; with a vast amount of acreage to cover, it is impossible to grow cereal, oilseed or pulse crops under a climate-controlled area. Many vegetables are and can be grown indoors, but again, most of them are plant outdoors like they have been for hundreds or thousands of years.
Modern farming is primarily an industry that involves growing food to feed many people from all over. The farmer is not growing food for himself, but rather for others who cannot grow food themselves. It involves much bigger equipment and less labour requirements (or rather, less people to hire) to cover a certain area of a field than what could be done 100 or 200 years ago. Fertilizers and pesticides are commonly used to get a much more cleaner crop with bigger returns per acre, and more varieties or cultivars of a certain species of plant are made available to farmers to grow for better yields, less lodging, more robustness and durability throughout the growing stages, and more growth or competitiveness over other plants that would be considered weeds. Crops are not just grown for human food, but for animal feed as well. Different varieties and cultivars are created for that purpose, and animals are selected so that they gain more efficiently on these feeds than they were designed to in the past.
Livestock in modern farming and agriculture have been selected to grow twice as fast and "finish" half the time that it would normally take a steer, broiler, lamb or goat to finish 200 years ago. Livestock are selected to be more efficient according to what they are fed and how they are managed, be it for grain or for grass. There are more options out there on how to manage different species of livestock than in the past. Many animals are now raised indoors in intensive operations, much more so than in the past. Some types of livestock though are still raised as they were in the past, such as goats, sheep, beef cattle and a fair population of horses, but their genetics have changed over time to meet market demands and a producer 's demands.
In the developed countries, food is much more readily available with the onset of modern agriculture than in traditional agriculture. Food can easily be shipped from thousands of miles away to a grocery store near you, enabling you to get anything you want no matter the cost.
Yet another notable difference between traditional and modern farming is the ability to network information to others who are involved in farming, want to get into farming or are not farming but involved in some form of agriculture just the same. Thanks to the Internet and governments more willing to support agriculture, information doesn 't have to be passed down from generation to generation anymore, it can be passed across cyberspace to complete strangers who are interested in the same industry as the person sharing the information. In the past, tips and tricks and methods to run a farm were passed down from grandfather to father to son, hardly ever from farmer to farmer half a world away from each other or a hundred miles away. Today, a producer can learn about how things are done around East Texas, USA when he lives in the northern part of Alberta, Canada, or any other part of the world.