Biotechnology 'Works, It's Safe And Makes More Money,' Say Farmers
Fewer seeds needed to increase yield
By Barb Livingstone - The Calgary Herald (Canada) | 11/5/2013
In the corn capital of the United States, the debate over the use of biotechnology to help grow crops - for farmers, at least - is a non-starter.
"We do it because it works, it's safe and it makes more money," says Gordon Wassenaar, who has been farming in Jasper County, Iowa, "since I was born."
Near his 607-hectare farm, where bison and buffalo reintroduced into the area roam among the tall grasses, the 76-year-old is proud his genetically modified corn and soybean crops lay side by side to nature's blessings.
And on this now $15-million family farm started by his Dutch immigrant father, Wassenaar is also proud of being - and continuing to be - an early adapter of what he considers major technological advances in agriculture that not only increase yield but also help steward his land.
For more than two decades, he has planted GM crops and has been a "no-till" farmer (he does not disturb or erode the soil through tillage). For the past three years, he has been seeding Canadian or North Dakota rye into his crops as cover over the winter, putting even more nutrients back into the soil.
The GM seeds, he says, mean his field losses are smaller and he doesn't deal with as many insects. Wassenaar said that means he can use "friendly" chemicals that aren't as bad for his health - "better seeds, fewer pesticides and better genetics."
The results: "In my father's day, before hybrid corn, he would get 60 bushels of corn; I get 200, and I have seen almost double yield in my career." And that is in a state that, last year, saw one of the worst droughts in its history.
"Fewer seeds needed to increase yield" Not sure I agree with that part. (depends on the crop you are discussing). Corn seeding rate on my farm is now 36000 seeds per acre (30 inch rows). Used to be several thousand less per acre.. As far as sb, (soybeans) yes the seeding rate recommended by the seed dealer has decreased by about 10%.