Biogenetics: Worth The Money?

With all of the technologies available today, it’s often daunting to determine if it’s worth the extra cash. Here’s what you need to know to weigh the pros and cons.


Six years ago many, farmers may have raised an eyebrow about the word and wondered what it meant. Today biogenetics are as much a mainstay as the combine. But has time proven that it’s worth the money?

Ask Marion Calmer. This no-tiller and operator of Calmer Agronomic Research Center in Alpha, Ill., has been keeping a close eye on the economics of seed technologies and carefully weighing whether the extra cost per bag will deliver more profits.

Calmer offers his ideas on the good, the bad and the ugly of biogenetics within that framework.

Bt Corn Borer

“Years ago, before the onset of Bt corn borer genetics, I’d go to harvest and see the tops missing out of the plants,” he explains. “The ears weren’t very high, and the plants themselves weren’t much taller than the tires of the combine. The corn plants really took a hit from those corn borers.

“The use of Bt corn borer genetics, on a 5-year average, is making me $22 more per acre than what I paid for that extra technology. With 500 acres of corn, that’s more than $10,000 per year. In a 10-year period, it’s $100,000 just by using the technology. So on my farm, I can honestly tell you that Bt genetics, the corn borer type, are making me money.”

Bt Rootworm

Unfortunately, most no-tillers know what happens during a bout with rootworm. After the rootworm chews off the roots, it rains. The soil gets muddy and a 50 mph…

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