While the anti-agriculture activists spout misinformed data about how genetically-modified grains have not boosted yields nor reduced use of fertilizer or chemicals–those of us living and breathing modern precision agriculture know the truth.
In my hundreds and hundreds of interviews I’ve done over the years with progressive farmers (in stories that have appeared in Progressive Farmer, Farm Industry News and other magazines), these guys and gals achieve regular yields that greatly surpass the state corn average (sometimes by 100 bushels and more). And when activists cite average yields to build their cases on, they fail to realize the true benefits of these crops.
Every farmer attributes these astounding yield gains to better genetics that help reduce plant stress while allowing use of fewer expensive fertilizer and chemical inputs. And the tools of precision farming–from GPS-guided auto steer and planter/spray boom control to intelligent prescription maps and software that delivers laser-focus fertilizer application by field management zones–help achieve awesome environmental stewardship.
For example, Mazon, Illinois farmer Donna Jeschke has cut her pesticide use by 80 percent thanks to seeds that grow into corn that resist bugs. “Since we have been using this genetically modified seed,” Donna says, “we have never had to spray for corn borers on either GMO seed or on refuge,” which is non-modified corn farmers grow so beneficial bugs can survive.
Donna uses global-positioning-satellite technology, or GPS, to make sure her tractor plants razor-sharp, perfect rows. This more precise farming saves her 10 percent in fuel and also means she can apply fertilizer without waste, which not only saves money but is better for the environment.
“Obviously the land is the greatest natural resource that farmers have,” she says. “Without that resource, we would not be in business. So we must be careful stewards of the land.”