Corn Farmers Coalition

More High-Tech Seeds, Less Pesticide for This Farmer

Calvin Haile (Dunnsville, Virginia)

Calvin Haile, 37, has farmed his entire life. He runs Grandview Farms with his father, James, in Dunnsville, on Virginia’s Northern Neck alongside Chesapeake Bay.

There he grows corn, wheat and soybeans on 2,500 acres, about the average size for Virginia. And he has diversified: He also offers custom services to other farmers, such as spreading lime and lot-clearing, and sells corn seed. The farm has three full-time employees and two part-timers.

Haile does not till an inch of his farm, which saves fuel, fertilizer and prevents erosion. He uses a nutrient-management plan to ensure that he spreads fertilizer efficiently and plants winter cover crops that fertilize the fields naturally.

He uses GPS technology in his combine as well as yield monitors, which guide him around the acreage with pinpoint accuracy and let him identify strong and weak parts of his fields and make corrections efficiently.

“Taking our operation to 100-percent no-till has reduced at least two trips across the field and in many places, more,” he said. “This saves us not only in fuel and equipment wear, this also allows us to use our labor more efficiently.”

Haile uses genetically modified, insect-resistant seed, reducing pesticide use by 10 percent. He also takes tissue samples of his wheat, which allows him to monitor exactly how the plant is doing. He can tell, for instance, what percentage of its nutrients are left, which tells him how much nitrogen to apply in which fields.

This is especially beneficial because fertilizer costs for Grandview Farms have risen 67 percent in the last two years. That kind of savings helps a lot – and using less fertilizer is kinder to the environment.

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