Corn Farmers Coalition

Centuries of Tradition Meet High Tech in the Cornfields

Donna Jeschke (Mazon, Illinois)

Donna Jeschke has been able to cut down on pesticide by 80 percent thanks to seeds that grow into corn resistant to 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 farms 2,300 acres outside the town of Mazon, Illinois, not far from Chicago. She operates the farm with her husband, brother and a part-timer. At 56, she’s been farming for 34 years, since graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in agriculture.

Her family was farming in Germany in the 1600s, and continued to farm after emigrating here in the 1840s.

Times have changed down on the farm, though.

Donna uses global-positioning-system 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.”

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