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Biosolids enhance global reach for Engel Family Farms

Kevin Engel oversees a family farming operation that exports products to Asia, Africa, India and Europe.

Kevin Engel is a farmer. And if measured by the number of counties he farms, a big one.

Kevin oversees a farming operation based in Hanover County that now includes 17 Virginia counties and sales that extend to Japan, China and India, and ports in Morocco and Eastern Europe. In fact, about 70 percent of the soybeans, wheat and barley he grows are exported.

But Engel Family Farms remains a family operation. Started with his father, Bud, and his wife, Denise, the Engel family business now involves all three of Kevin and Denise’s children – Chris, Savannah and Casey.

“The land we farm is diverse,” Kevin said. “Soil types range from very sandy and sandy loam to deep red soils with high clay. Elevations vary from about 15 to 740 feet.” The land he farms, much of it leased, extends from Albemarle County to Smithfield.

They grow various agriculture products—yellow and white corn, soybeans, wheat and barley. “We also grow a little milo,” he said, “and canola is a new crop that we’re growing.” Sales of these products are to some of our country’s largest agricultural companies that are then used in a variety of consumer products.

“Over time we’ve learned the importance of relationships, which is a core value, as well as exceptional environmental stewardship,” he explained. “We believe in working hard to produce agricultural products that can feed the world … while respecting and protecting our environment.”

The relationships Kevin and his family value extend from their family to the landowners, vendors, lenders, market representatives and the communities where the farm operates.

Biosolids, he said, are used on all of the roughly 2,000 acres that Engel Farms owns, and on all of the land it leases, as long as it’s permitted by the landowner.

“Anytime we move a new farm into production we try to use biosolids,” he said. “I think biosolids get ph levels and organics up to a point that it really helps jump-start growth. In land that’s been in production, biosolids provide a fertilizer with more organic material.”

Biosolids, in a nutshell, improves a farm’s productivity, he said, while also saving money by reducing the need and cost of synthetic fertilizer or other types of fertilizers or soil amendments.

“Farming is a business,” he said, pointing to one of the many transportation vehicles owned and operated by another family operation – Virginia Ag Trucking. “However, it requires those of us in agriculture to continue to make sure people understand its importance in their daily lives.”

“We choose to use biosolids on our farms because they provide good value,” he said, “and contribute to the long-term success of our business.”