Throughout the 2020 growing season, USSOY.org will provide regular Ground Work updates from several U.S. soybean farmers around the country. Learn about their farms and commitment to producing high-quality soy.
Brad Doyle and his wife Joyce farm and breed and sell soybean seed in Arkansas, in the south-central U.S. Their farm is near the small town of Weiner, Arkansas, about 95 km, or about 60 miles, west of Memphis, Tennessee, a major city on the Mississippi River.
Brad’s path to this family farm and business was not direct.
“Although I was a few generations removed from farming, I got a summer job scouting crops for pests after high school and decided to earn an agribusiness degree,” Brad says. “I worked as a crop consultant on all the crops we grow in Arkansas, including soybeans, corn, rice, cotton, wheat and more. While getting my master’s degree at Arkansas State University, I met a farmer’s daughter.”
After he and Joyce were married, Brad joined her family’s farm and seed business, and Joyce earned her doctorate in food-grade soybean breeding. Today they are part of the family operation, which includes Joyce’s mother, her two brothers and their son Cody. They will welcome other members of the next generation to the operation as they have interest.
Together, the family raises soybeans and rice on just more than 1,000 hectares. In addition, they run Eagle Seed Company, started by Joyce’s father in 1975. He was also a soybean breeder and university researcher.
About 80% of their ground is dedicated to soybeans. The family breeds and grows the seed they sell to other farmers. They also conduct soybean research and test plots on their farm.
“With Joyce’s work as a soybean breeder, particularly for food-grade soybeans, we work to develop high-yielding non-GMO soybean varieties with higher protein, higher sugar content, and other characteristics we learn about from customers around the world,” Brad says. “At the same time, we are developing GMO soybean varieties to give our farmers options.”
Brad has become familiar with soybean customer needs through his industry involvement. He currently serves as the secretary of the American Soybean Association (ASA). He has been a board member for ASA since 2017. And before that, he served on his state soybean board, the Arkansas Soybean Association, beginning in 2009.
During that time, he has participated in U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) trips to Asia, visiting China, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
“Meeting global customers both in their countries and when they visit the U.S. gives us first-hand opportunities to listen to their needs,” he says. “We are committed to delivering the quality they need. Because we are breeding soybeans, we work hard to develop soybean varieties that grow well in our area and address the needs we learn about.”
Beyond supplying seed to farmers that can easily be exported via the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, the family is committed to conservation. The farm includes ground to grow grass for hay and timberland, as well as a 40.5-hectare, or 100-acre, reservoir that collects rainwater for irrigation.
“The reservoir was built in the 80s on ground that was taken out of production to ensure that the farm conserves and recycles water,” Brad explains.
Ditches throughout the farm drain rainwater into the reservoir throughout the year. Then, during the growing season, water can be pumped from the reservoir to each field as needed. Because rice has historically been one of the most successful crops in their area, the entire farm has a flood irrigation system. When water is needed, soybean fields get saturated with water, and the excess is then moved to the next field.
“In everything, we work hard to raise and send our best soybeans to our customers,” he says. “We are proud to have a role in meeting global demand for U.S. soybeans.”
Brad will share regular updates on USSOY.org throughout the 2020 growing season. You can learn more about his farm on his Facebook page, @BradDoyle.