Farming for What Matters Most

Written By Mallary Caudill 
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Jamie and Kelly Grant in wheat field

You don’t have to be on Jamie Harvel’s farm very long to notice two things: her passion for her family farm, and the importance of soil conservation and sustainability to her operation.

Farming Wheat Sustainably

Jamie runs Harvel Farms in Clay City, Illinois, growing corn, soybeans and wheat. During the summer months, the farm is running full fledged into wheat harvest. With a heavy emphasis on sustainability, Jamie plants and harvests about 1,000 acres of wheat each year. “With wheat, we see help with root growth, nutrient uptake, and water filtration, and we even see help with soil compaction,” Jamie shared.

“We live in Clay County, and we call it Clay County for a reason… we no-till a lot of our fields, and wheat helps with that, it adds the organic matter… and with our hilltops, planting a cover crop is a must,” Jamie says.

Occasionally fellow farmers question why Jamie plants so much wheat, asking "Don't you want to enjoy your summers?" Her response is that she most enjoys summer "in the combine, knowing that I'm giving the soil exactly what it wants. Our clay soils need and want the wheat."

Finding Her Way Back to Farming

Jamie didn’t always see herself as a farmer, in fact, in 1999, Jamie left town with plans of never returning to the home farm. But today, she is the lead operator and decision-maker of the 4,000-acre operation alongside her wife, Kelly.

“What matters most is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, if you want to be a farmer you can do it," Jamie explains. "There’s going to be obstacles — but that’s farming.” For Jamie, sometimes these obstacles look like navigating business decisions in a male-dominated industry. “Being a woman in this industry and in this community is not unknown, but it’s not the norm.”

In addition to managing her farm, Jamie helps other farmers find the right seed products for their acres as a Pioneer sales representative.

Farming for the Next Generation

After being a parent to her son, 9-month-old son, Grant, her role as a farmer is one of Jamie's most important responsibilities. “God has given us this land for a purpose, and it’s our duty to help preserve that and keep it going so we can continue to feed the world,” she says. Jamie values taking care of the land and the farm and nurturing it, just like she works to do for her family.

“What matters most is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, if you want to be a farmer you can do it."

And with that comes sacrifices. Her responsibilities require long hours and time away from home. Jamie knows that her absence from her son’s young life means missing major milestones, but she knows it is worth it because of the longevity and health she is creating for her farm to be carried on for generations to come.

The Right Tools for the Job

In addition to her extensive conservation practices, Jamie leans on Granular for help when it comes to her business records and profitability. When she came to the farm in 2012, continuing the operation and taking over was a serious decision. One of the biggest feats was putting pen and paper to some of the operational decisions, and with Granular, the workload is automated and right at her fingertips. This easy transition to Granular has helped grow the business and its profitability.

About the Project

These stories were made possible through Corteva’s Open Innovation Initiative, where Corteva believes in bringing the outside in to advance agriculture for all. Ohio State student Mallary Caudill submitted a proposal tell stories of farmers innovating across America and Corteva granted approval for her to visit these farms because they represent ways a diverse group of American farmers are using climate-positive practices to build a better world for the next generation. Corteva believes scientific, societal and agricultural innovations are made through collaboration and inclusion. We are proud to feature how Corteva farmers work for #WhatMattersMost and are #InItForGood.

About the Author

A farm kid from west-central Ohio, Mallary Caudill is part of the third generation of her family’s grain and livestock farm. When she isn’t home on her family’s operation, she is a student at the Ohio State University studying agricultural communications. She is passionate about all facets of agriculture, for all people, and works to tell stories and learn about the industry she grew up in as much as she can.