Our Work with Soil Health
Click below to read more about Ag Solutions Network and our work with the soil health principles, regenerative farming, research experiences, and the challenges and successes of adopting ag tech.
Harvesting More than Yield
Time, soil and money share a common trait - they are disappearing faster than we'd like. As farmers, we rely on soil for our livelihood. However, the loss of soil and time cannot be compensated for by money. Therefore, it is crucial for us to carefully consider our approach to curb the rapid depletion of these three valuable resources.
The AgEmerge Podcast Driven by Ag Solutions Network
The AgEmerge Podcast shares emerging regenerative agriculture practices and cutting-edge ideas to improve soil, crops, livestock and ultimately, livelihoods.
The Time for Change is Now
Learn why Monte Bottens decided to scale back on glyphosate and why. Bottens Family Farm has been putting soil health first for more than 20 years. Challenges and train wrecks occur. But the improvements to soil, crops, livestock and eventually human health keep coming.
We don't sell jugs. We provide a soil health system.
From secret sauces to the latest and greatest tool, the next shiny thing in agriculture gets old quick. When it comes down to farming, though, the basics are the basics - the plant needs what it needs. The healthier the soil, the healthier the crop.
The AgEmerge Podcast driven by Ag Solutions Network
August 31, 2022
The AgEmerge Podcast has been dropping knowledge from experts every other Tuesday for three years and there are no signs of slowing down. Many entertaining and educational podcasts have come and gone in the agriculture world. But what began as an event follow up, has become a staple to listeners and part of the day to day operations for Ag Solutions Network.
The team at Ag Solutions Network held its inaugural AgEmerge Event in January 2019 where so much good information and new ideas were shared, the attendees and speakers asked for additional follow up conversations. A few audio recordings later, the podcast began. Today, the AgEmerge Podcast is also available on YouTube, and is approaching the 100th episode.
Two guests in particular stand out for President of Cross Creek Ag Solutions, Brad Downing said. “One was Dr. Michelle Perro and the other was Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT. These two podcast guests link together what we’re trying to do on the farm from a food safety and health perspective. Those don’t match up for everyone and they should,” Brad said. “When looking at farming from a soil to crop to human health connection, you can’t help but listen in and learn what can be done differently.”
Ag Solutions Network and the AgEmerge team understand that even considering, let alone implementing change doesn’t come easily.
“The podcast has challenged my own paradigms,” Ag Solutions Founder, CEO and AgEmerge Podcast host Monte Bottens said. “I don’t always align with a guest’s eating choices or farming perspective, but after interviewing each person, I’m left with a few more questions and ideas to put into play in my life and farming practices.”
More than 1,700 listens occur each month for the podcast and listeners have heard from human nutritionists, soil researchers, university professors, agronomists, ag technology gurus, supply chain professionals, legendary scientists, robotic laser weed developers, regenerative ranchers and trusted farmers willing to share their lessons learned and successes surrounding soil health.
Monte said, “We’ve had some amazing people graciously provide their expertise on the podcast. I’m always impressed with their insights, dedication to their field of study or business, and thankful they continue to break down silos surrounding agriculture.”
The AgEmerge Podcast is produced by Ag Solutions Network’s Training and Sales Support Director, Kim Sheese. She works diligently to ensure top quality sound and video for each episode and said she loves learning from the guests herself.
“I like to think we’re giving folks a place to share their story and discuss their thinking and work,” Sheese said. “When I joined ASN, I didn’t know much about regenerative ag so I had a lot to learn and just like many others I used YouTube University to watch folks like Gabe Brown who were really trailblazing this path.”
She added, “Then, getting the chance to meet and listen first hand to some of these legends is really an honor for me because they have shared all their ups and downs very candidly and it’s awesome to meet and talk with such genuine people.”
Monte makes an effort to ask unique questions of the podcast guests so listeners are hearing more about the “Why”, the guest’s crossroads to today, and better understand how they are adding to the soil health, ag tech, farm business or agriculture research. Podcast guests explain how they “Fear the Same” and talk about what they’re doing differently than most to expand soil health, crop health, livestock health, and ultimately, human health.
Indiana farmer and avid podcast listener, Isaac Greeson tunes in to the AgEmerge episodes often. He said his favorite guest so far has been Dwayne Beck, featured in episode 049.
“It's hard to beat Dr. Beck. I always enjoy listening to him because I think as a farmer he always brings stuff back to a very practical place. He's able to communicate practices and principles clearly.” Isaac added that he enjoys how the AgEmerge podcast highlights diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, saying, “It makes me more aware of what's going on in the regen ag space especially from a tech perspective.”
Curious about what we’re touting? Visit any of the top five episodes to date and then go find another episode featuring a topic you’re interested in from stacking farming enterprises with Dr. Allen Williams in episode 90, or learn why Seth Watkins made changes to his farm for his family’s health in episode 67.
Top Five AgEmerge Podcasts:
Ag Solutions Network and the AgEmerge Podcast team hope you’ll continue to add to the 35,000 and counting lifetime listens. Stay tuned for episodes launching every other Tuesday, including a full-length version of Gabe Brown to celebrate our 100th episode in January 2023.
Ready to challenge your own status quo? Let’s farm better, do better, be better — together. Visit www.AgSolutionsNetwork.com.
POWER2GRO Crop Production System isn't a Product Fix. It's a Soil Solution.
Feb. 17, 2022
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?
You can talk about what you should do. Or, you can just do it.
May 8, 2021
Systems. The concept of a system varies depending on context. When ASN thinks about systems, we think about multiple components working together to accomplish an overall goal. A “systems approach” becomes a path that involves people, products, equipment, lessons, conversations and goals all merging into one. We sat down with founder Monte Bottens to discuss his thoughts on why working from a systems approach is so important.
Monte started by recognizing that, “There’s a lot going on in agriculture and consumer trends right now. There is so much noise and information to sort through, and buzz words gaining momentum like: regenerative ag, carbon credits, soil health, non-gmo, cover crops, relay cropping, companion cropping, and so on and so on."
"I think we’re often too comfortable doing what we’ve always done and when we hear all of these buzzwords and recommendations, it causes a bit of paralysis. The problem with that is we’re facing some pretty big shocks to our system if we don’t make much bigger changes on a larger scale now.”
Urgency is certainly contributing to the need for large scale soil health adoptions. Monte said there is no doubt we are running our natural resources thin. “We continue to see moves to manage those resources, but I’m not sure we’re doing enough and certainly not doing it fast enough to make enough impact. No matter what, we live and die by our soil. It is the ecosystem that drives everything. If we lose that resource, we lose the game.”
So that’s where ASN focuses its efforts, aims to educate, and bring solutions to the table. Solutions like the POWER2GRO Crop Production System that can improve agriculture, from the soil up. Monte said, “The ASN team looks at the bigger picture which leads to stronger recommendations for farming with a soil first approach yet keeps profitability at the forefront.”
Monte added, “We can build a better system.”
He said, “We aren’t a nutrient company that looks at nutrient inputs only. We have to look at the whole system; current tillage practices, erosion control, labor availability, water management, water resources, microbiology of the soil...If we focus on only one part of the system, we lose the forest for the trees.”
The systems approach enables ASN to conduct business a bit differently. Monte said, “I think what makes us unique is that we don't walk in with a leaflet describing the individual products we sell, but instead we walk in with grower-focused questions and with a passion to provide a long-term benefit.”
“Our team always starts with understanding a farm’s goals,” Monte said. “Not just for this year, but for the next 30. We ask, what’s working and what isn’t? What new things do you want to do and how willing are you to do things differently to get there? Then, together, we build a plan that works across the operation, starting from the soil up, building back the ecosystem we’ve been destroying for years and focusing on creating the healthiest soil possible for the healthiest plant possible.”
Mentioned before, urgency can shape the response to an issue. But the importance of systems thinking means starting with the end in mind while gathering other pieces of the puzzle before they’re put in place. Monte said this approach isn’t for everybody.
“At the end of the day, our systems approach sounds wild to some people, but those aren’t our people. Plain and simple. We’re looking for the people that understand we need to be more afraid of continuing to do what we’re doing now, than they are afraid of doing something new.
We need to:
Step 1: Admit what we’re doing isn’t working.
Step 2: Be willing to do something about it.
Step 3: Have someone to hold us accountable.
A half-baked plan isn’t going to get you where you want to go, and if that’s what you’re getting from your dealer, your crop advisor, or your farm partner now - then it might be time to consider a new one.”
Ready to challenge your own status quo? Let’s farm better, do better, be better — together.