Ag Solutions Network (ASN) provides experience and ideas to help farmers prosper. It’s in our name. And when customers combine soil health principles with ASN’s POWER2GRO Crop Production system, they can do more, with less. How? ASN dealers across the country meet growers where they are and make shifts in products and practices to farm better – together.
Soil health is considered a journey where farmers start at different points for different reasons. Need a starter fertilizer package for spring planting? ASN has field-proven, macros, micros and biologically based products. New to cover crops? Our dealers and sales teams can help growers choose a custom diverse mix. Curious how to go no till or add livestock to the land? We’ve taken the risk of farming differently for decades.
“We’re not afraid to be different,” CEO Monte Bottens said. “But we are afraid to be the same, which is why our products and dealers do more than make recommendations, we bring solutions and help make changes.”
Deciding to change takes more than watching microbe videos online or attending hours of cover crop seminars. Monte says it’s easy to click away or to head home without doing anything different on the farm. Ag Solution Network actually helps farmers implement change.
“Who do you want to work with? Investment funded exchanges or farmers? We’re not big ag. ASN is farmer owned, farmer trusted and soil health approved,” Monte said.
ASN began in 2011. Prior to that, Monte founded California Ag Solutions in 2004 by bringing the soil health practices of the Midwest, to the soil depleted Central Valley of California. He successfully implemented no till and strip till on California farms and orchards, increased biodiversity with cover crops, and integrated the POWER2GRO Crop Production system with growers’ current practices.
But adjusting a farming approach can be tough for a variety of reasons. California Ag Solutions Customer Account Manager Antonio Perez said many growers are resistant to changing anything in their operations – at first.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is changing that mindset where growers have been doing something for years longer than I have been on this earth,” Antonio said. “It’s always that approach where growers say, ‘You’re telling me I need to change something when I’ve been doing this for 35-40 years?’ Yes, yes I am!”
Antonio’s confidence in the POWER2GRO Crop Production system comes from seeing firsthand the impact of putting soil health as the priority. Antonio said growers are inundated with new products and some are hearing about biologicals for the first time His customers are pleasantly surprised to learn components like kelp, humic and fulvic acids are why their soil and farms perform well.
Antonio said, “Our growers don’t need to research and hand select a suite of other products. Those biologically based solutions are already built into POWER2GRO products.”
Photo courtesy of California Ag Solutions: On the left is a Madera, California, pistachio orchard with POWER2GRO Crop Production System applied for two years. On the right, is a neighboring field with conventional practices.
When growers join Ag Solutions Network and our dealers around the country, they often say, “Farming is fun again!” That’s a different tune than most find at a local coffee shop, griping about the ag cycle of commodity prices or the latest ag technology. ASN helps growers get out of the typical farming mindset and get back to the basics, with healthy soil, fresh perspectives and new opportunities.
“Conventional farming is using mechanical and chemical technologies to reduce plant stress and improve yield. That's what we've done,” Monte said. “John Deere reduced plant stress when he invented the self scouring plow to be able to take out prairie competition and turn over soil and make nutrients available. And we really have been doing the same thing since he moved here in 1848. It's just been faster, wider and better, more controlled. And now it drives your tractor automatically, right?”
Monte added, “So what we're looking at is really the biological revolution in agriculture. POWER2GRO is using biological technologies to enable the plant defense mechanisms and improve soil at the same time.”
Monte said when you look at the first year of working with a new customer and applying soil health practices and biological products, growers can greatly reduce the need for applying insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides. And then over time, the soil begins to improve.
“And as that soil improves, the signaling improves and the signaling helps the plant become more and more resilient. The first year is a huge step. The second year, it just keeps getting better as the soil continues to improve. So ASN’s approach then essentially is to allow for short term yield stability to increase while reducing conventional inputs. But the long term is where the exciting part is,” Monte said.
If Antonio’s California pistachio grower can put to use some legumes, grasses, broadleaves and brassica cover crops, and see incredible difference in just two years time, imagine what keeping the soil armored, minimizing soil disturbance, a living root all year long, and compost applications can do over the next few years?
Although oftentimes met with resistance, Antonio says, growers can and will make changes. For instance, the pistachio customer who owns the ground with the soil probes pictured above, “purchased the property and just let the weeds take over, but eventually he agreed to plant a cover crop,” Antonio explained.
“We came in with a cover and planted as much as we could all the way down to the trunk of the trees. We went two passes back and forth over the same row and we’ve just been mowing it and watching it all work together.”
In talking with Antonio, Monte said that kind of result, changing soil over time, is what ASN is after. Each improvement builds on the previous practices.
He said, “That's really what we're looking to do – provide a system that can allow you to go into those biomass cover crops that are tying things up, that allow you to go into tilled and no tilled situations and allow you to utilize resources better and better.”
Ready to make a change?