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I’m a third generation farmer at Renwood Farms in Charles City, Virginia, which is about 20 miles from historic Jamestown, Va., where early settlers first started growing corn in about 1609. Back then, the practice was to dig a hole, put a catfish in it and place four kernels of corn on top of that.
We’ve come a long way from those antiquated techniques and have managed to set some corn and soybean yield records along the way by managing fertility, tillage and moisture.
I’ve farmed with my dad and my grandpa over the years and am currently cropping about 4,000 acres with my two brothers and my son. I also have a 2½ year-old grandson who I’m hoping will want to take the farm into the next generation.
Renwood Farms has been in continuous no-till since 1986 and yet we’re always experimenting with new equipment and ways of doing things. While this mindset may have been instilled in me early on, it was reinforced one year when I went to hear Francis Childs speak. Back in 2001, Childs was the first farmer to exceed 400 bushels of corn per acre and he went around the country giving presentations about how he did it.
I remember sitting in the front row and I had a pen and a piece of paper and I was ready to take notes on which fertilizer he used and at what rates, what corn hybrid he planted, what fungicide, what insecticide, what populations…