Soybeans

Planting Non-GMO Soybeans: Value-Added Production

You’ve heard me talk about the benefits of genetically engineered crops before, and why farmers like us choose to use them. You have probably read about our yields we get with planting GE crops (better known as GMO to consumers), what methods of tillage we use, what chemicals we have used, etc. in some of my past posts. We’ve had a lot of people ask us since we are the first ones to stand up for allowing farmers to use GE technology and why we think GMO labeling is silly…

Why Non-GMO soybeans?

First things first, planting Non-GMO soybeans is very, very different from organic farming, and frankly, the two aren’t really alike at all in my opinion. Planting Non-GMO soybeans is more like farming with GE soybeans than most think, but with a few extra quirks and rules to follow. Our non-GMO soybeans are exported and made into tofu. I’m going to touch on a few areas (not all) of why we chose to plant non-GMO soybeans on our farm this year.

  1. Market – There is a better and bigger market for non-GMO, food grade soybeans than ever before. Creating this market has been something that farmers asked for as the need for protein options has risen in other countries. Our soybean growers association has worked hard to capitalize on this development and invest in the research to grow this specialty market over the past few years. New food-grade seed varieties continue to be developed that are higher in certain protein contents or select oils depending on what they will be used for in the end market.
  2. Price – We receive a higher premium for our soybeans because they are a specialty product. We do have to complete a few more tasks with planting non-GM soybeans like carefully cleaning out bins and trucks to avoid contamination and using only certain approved chemicals. We have to sign a contract similar to what one might sign with GE seed, except our contract revolves around identity preservation and the number of bushels we have agreed to grow. As crop prices continue to drop, farmers are looking to find an extra bushel or take off-farm jobs. The price premium on non-GMO soybeans is one of those options for farmers. Typically, the seed costs less than GE seed which means our end cost of production isn’t as high.
  3.  Tillage- I read a post that said that non-GMO farmers use more tillage than conventional farmers due to weeds. We did no more tillage than we do when we plant GE soybeans or GE corn. In fact, we did no-till in some of our fields this year. Again, planting non-GMO is not the same as organics which may rely on additional cultivation or flame weeding. We do have options chemical wise we can use for weeds. We didn’t use anymore chemical than we typically use in a given year, but we did use different kinds because we can’t use glyphosate, for example.
  4.  Bushels –This is always the main question we get. Will my bushels be on par with GE? Possibly. Possibly not. Every field is different based on soil type, nutrients, even weather patterns vary since we have fields in 3 different counties for us. We had hail damage in some fields compared to none in others. Some had standing water while others did not. All of those factors can impact bushels. However, typically we average around 50-55 bushels per field for our non-GMO soybeans, but we have had fields that have reached into the upper 70’s for bushels per acre this year.
  5. Traits – Some of the traits we look for in non-GMO soybeans are the same as what we look for in GE soybeans – resistance to certain fungus, drought tolerance, past performance on bushels per acre, etc. We also pay close attention to oleic concentration, protein concentration and even hilum color because those are the traits looked at for premiums in a food-grade, non-GMO soybean.

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It would be a shame to just say farmers are against GE soybeans, when I don’t think that is the case, and certainly not for us. Capitalizing on new opportunities and markets to create expanded profits and options for farmers is a good thing. You don’t have to plant GE and you don’t have to plant non-GMO. It isn’t for everyone, and how you choose to operate your farm versus your neighbor will be different. It works for us, but it won’t work for everyone. We certainly aren’t dismissing modern technology – in fact, I’d love if every crop was GE and we never had to worry about using a chemical ever, but that isn’t the case.

Farmers will have to continue to evolve with new market trends, new growth markets, and evaluate their current operations in order to succeed. Farmers are finding that planting value-added soybeans can be one of those pathways for their farm to succeed.

-Sara

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Share the Road during Harvest Season

I can’t urge drivers enough to slow down and give farmers room on the road. I personally have a family friend who passed away after hitting the back end of a plow because the tractor was turning and they did not slow down enough. Accidents and tragic stories like that one can be avoided if we all remember to slow down and give the equipment room.
Often, the farmer in the tractor or combine can’t see you. Blind spots are a lot different in a combine than a car!
So please, during both harvest and planting season when you see a tractor on the road, pull off to the side, let them pass or just simply wait. If you can, drive on the side of the road. If you see a farmer blocking traffic, it is for a reason, as a large piece of equipment might be coming through.
Be patient with us. The life you save by slowing down could be mine or your own.

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Pictures!

Here are some quick photos of our soybean fields. They were planted in early May. 

Can you spot the two deer in our fields? Another cool thing about agriculture is usually we provide habitat (and food apparently!) to a lot of wildlife as well!

We try to check on our fields on a weekly basis. Things we check for are plant health, size, bug damage, wildlife damage, quality of the ground, and more! 

Mark is heading out to check out the soybeans.

Bacon is growing fast! We always make sure he has plenty of fresh water and food. The pellets we feed him are full of nutrients and minerals he needs to make sure he is growing and healthy! 

Busy Bees!

I apologize that it has been so long since my last post! We have been crazy busy! I started a new job and did a study abroad trip. Mark, Ray and Kevin have been busy planting and setting up tile plows! We also have 2 new kittens hanging out at the farm, who yet to have names. 

Our beans and corn are both up! The corn is reaching about to your calf muscle right now, so pretty soon it will live up to the saying “knee high by the 4th of July!” 

Unfortunately, a few weeks back, we did get a pretty hefty storm which did create  a lot of hail damage to a few of our fields. At this point, we don’t think we will get a crop off of them, and insurance will most likely be totaling the fields out- much like a totaled vehicle in a car crash! At the same time, a tree fell on the new addition to Kevin & Jeanettes house, and branches dented Mark’s new truck as well as took out the rear window in his car! So it was quite a storm! A neighbor down the road, lost his brand new shed to it- pieces were scattered all over his field. 

Mark and I are busy finishing up wedding plans! I finally feel like we are making progress, but we are behind at the same time. We wanted something rustic and that reflected our farming backgrounds, so hopefully that is what we end up with come September! 

Hopefully I will have new photos posted here in the next few weeks! Bare with me and my crazy schedule! In the meantime don’t forget to find us on Facebook! We LOVE having new followers and I would appreciate if you shared it with your friends! 

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