Have you heard the expression “it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole”? It's an idiom used when trying to describe someone or something that doesn’t quite fit in with the others or is out of the norm. Take a look at the Ag Solutions Network logo…we’re the square peg in the round hole of ag retailers.
From the beginning, Ag Solutions Network (ASN) and founder, Monte Bottens, have been known to challenge the status quo. Monte adopted no-till practices on his own farm back in 1996 which was contrary to popular opinion. He then began providing a plant nutrition program that included biologicals nearly 20 years ago when they were still considered to be “snake oil”. Unlike many others in the biological and fertilizer space, ASN is not solely profit driven with the ultimate goal of selling as many gallons as possible. We’re driven by doing the right thing and making a greater impact on soil health, human health and the environment overall. It’s not often you find a company selling products and services with the underlying goal of helping a customer improve so much that they’ll require less and less of their product over time.
ASN’s systems approach is meant to advance others toward a more holistic way of farming. Our team seeks out dealers and customers who are also driven to make a change and farm better, those who are willing to turn farming challenges into opportunities and have the same square peg in a round hole type characteristics that keep pushing us to take the next right step.
In 2021, ASN added Brad Downing to its network of dealers. Brad and his wife, Marsha, own and operate Cross Creek Ag Solutions in Greentown, Indiana, with a team of hand-picked talent. Cross Creek Ag Solutions specializes in helping farm operations key in on biological/nutritional soil and crop needs, seed and genetic selection, custom spreading of high-level fertilizers, and personal consulting of each operational need.
“It’s our job to help your farm get from A to B, but it’s our mission to figure out how to help navigate your farm from B to Z,” Brad said. “What Monte and [National Sales Manager] Zac Neppl bring to the table is a different mindset than most of the rest of the industry.”
Brad added, “We've been in the biological and nutritional business now for four years, and it is tough, even within the industry, to find people that are willing to push the envelope and push the status quo, much like ourselves. We try to challenge the grower and the farmer to think outside the box and completely differently.”
He said Monte’s approach to farming solutions encouraged him to think more broadly about the impact of farm to table. “But what ASN has helped is my way of thinking about doing things differently and looking at the plants we raise from more of a holistic approach, but also from a standpoint of what we do with those plants and what we do for our food security, how it affects us downstream in our own body, what we're eating and everything else we've been given. There's a whole loop, a whole system there, and I think it challenges me to keep my eyes open, you know, to what we do and how we do things and what impact it has downstream.”
Another aspect of working with the ASN dealer network that Brad appreciates is something he refers to as “the freedom to operate”. ASN dealers retain independent ownership and run their business as they see fit.
Brad said, “We are able to take things that ASN is doing and merge them into what we're already doing. Every farm I've ever worked with across 17 states, from across the Delta out to Iowa, all the way up to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, the Midwest, everybody is different. We're able to go in and create unique mixes and unique recipes for each grower based on where they're at, what their goals are, and what they're capable of doing.”
The ASN dealer network approach is similar on the West coast at California Ag Solutions (CAS). Beginning in 2004, Monte began implementing strip-till, minimal and no-till practices in Madera, California. Fast forward to 2022, and CAS is a leader in nutrient and irrigation management, and skilled in making the most of each acre in terms of water allocation and regulatory compliance.
“At California Ag Solutions, we provide leadership and support to help growers and soil thrive,” President Silas Rossow says.
He added, “ASN helps dealers like myself communicate value to growers about the products and services that we offer by truly understanding the depth of why our products are different than other similar products and helps take the focus off of price and puts it on value. Most agronomy product suppliers only provide bits and pieces of product knowledge, whereas ASN provides full integrated knowledge in how this product might affect other parts of the growers’ operation.”
Silas said the ASN network isn’t for everyone when it comes to dealers and customers. “We're looking for someone who is innovative, brave, and wants to make their situation, their soil and their future better. And that's something we're always trying to find. And that's the hard part because there's a lot of people who just want to buy stuff and they don't care about how it works. Finding the right customer who cares and who wants to do the right thing, that's the direction we want to grow and that's how we're focused.”
ASN has experienced farming challenges from coast to coast and whether it’s almonds or corn, our plans to implement regenerative practices are as diverse as our soils. We’re united in knowing the future of agriculture holds a tremendous amount of challenge and that each penny will have to stretch as far as possible in order for growers to stay viable. At ASN, we’re committed to making soil health and nutrient investments for any crop pay in the short and long run.
Do you feel like you’re the square peg in a round hole on occasion? Curious to learn more about who ASN is and how we operate? Contact National Sales Manager Zac Neppl via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, come see for yourself this summer!
Join us August 4-5th, 2022 in Cambridge, Illinois, for the AgEmerge Summer Summit. You’ll see soil health principles in action and at scale. Get your questions answered, and engage in thought provoking discussion as we share years of experience, both the successes and failures, in a full transparency farm tour. But we can't be all work and no play...To wrap up the event, we'll enjoy a unique evening together in the pasture for dinner and live music at the 4th annual Concert with the Cows!