Growers and fertilizer companies do a fabulous job nourishing their crops during the growing season, but one Idaho-based company is honing its focus on the soil itself. Ag Concepts Corp., a fully integrated, full-service specialty fertilizer company based out of Boise, Idaho, goes by the moniker that if you take care of the soil, the soil will take care of the plant.
Ag Concepts Corp. seeks to treat the soil as a living system, creating a thriving environment for crop production. By integrating their approach with traditional agronomy practices, Ag Concepts provides a previously missing tool for the next step in agricultural production.
Ag Concepts was started as a marketing company in 1986 by Mel Snider. Having sold his insurance business, Mel was going to retire, but after a few months found he didn't want to. On a tip from a home contractor, Mel contacted the man who had distribution rights in the state of Idaho for a soil fertilizer. Mel began working with him and after a few weeks talked his brother, Dave, into also getting involved. Within a year, the two brothers ended up with the distribution rights for parts of Idaho and parts of Washington. The company has grown from there.
They started with one product, but added more products soon afterward, manufactured by other companies. After about five years, they started making their own products to ensure product consistency. Mel has been improving the business ever since.
Today, Ag Concepts Corp. has grown into a manufacturer and international wholesale supplier of high-quality biological products. Through research, alliances and acquisitions, the company has become an industry leader.
Ag Concepts specializes in bio-stimulant, humic acid, kelp or seaweed, foliar fertilizer, soil penetrant and starter fertilizer products for agriculture. Ag Concept's bio-stimulant products contain an enzyme catalyst designed to stimulate the native soil microbiological activity and increase soil health.
While not certified organic, their products can be considered environmentally friendly-there's nothing in any of their products that would be considered harmful in any way. The company produces and sells bio-stimulants, foliar fertilizers and high-quality soil penetrants for use in agriculture. The agriculture industry has developed excellent procedures to provide nutrients to a crop but has discounted the importance of the soil, the foundation of successful crop production.
Trey Reid, area sales rep for Ag Concepts, says that their products improve the biology in the soil and improve root growth.
"We look at the soil as a living system," he says. "There's so much biology in the soil. They're really there to do specific things. Some are breaking down the fertilizers and inputs that are going into the soil and making them available. There are microbiology that solubilizes phosphate and other groups that protect roots from disease."
AgZyme & Pervaide
Of their product line-up, the products most used on potatoes are AgZyme and Pervaide. Pervaide is a uniquely formulated high-grade, non-ionic soil penetrant with added enzymes. Pervaide helps reduce crusting, loosens up hard clay soils, aggregates sandy soil and allows water and oxygen to better reach plant roots by reducing the surface tension of the water.
Pervaide is designed to decrease the surface tension of the water for improved soil penetration while improving the growth and activity of micro-organisms necessary for a healthy soil environment. Pervaide can be mixed with most herbicides and fungicides as well as some fertilizers.
AgZyme is a complex of enzymes, trace elements, vitamins and natural plant extracts designed to create a better environment in the soil while maintain plant health and tolerance to adverse conditions. Reid says AgZyme can be mixed with pretty much anything, and it works even better if growers mix it in with the fertilizer if they're putting out a starter.
AgZyme has been successfully shown to reduce nitrate leaching and water loss. Dr. Roy Stephen of Arise Research and Discovery in Martinsville, Ill., has researched the efficacy of AgZyme for nitrate and water loss reduction. In tests replicated over the course of five years, Dr. Stephen found that AgZyme significantly reduced nitrate and water loss.
Reid says they've worked extensively with 25-30 universities and private research testing stations to prove their products work, including eight years of study with the University of Idaho and a three-year study with North Dakota State University.
Dr. Asunta "Susie" Thompson, associate professor of potato breeding at North Dakota State University, and this year's National Potato Council Meritorious Service Award winner, says the three-year study was done near Tappen, N.D., as well as Inkster, N.D., at Northern Plains Potato Growers Association research sites.
Thompson says that there were a couple instances with particular varieties with higher total yield as well a higher yield of U.S. No. 1 tubers. Red Norland had the least response with AgZyme, but Dakota Pearl had a significant yield as well as significant increase in U.S. No. 1 tubers. For processing cultivars, they found there was a trend for higher specific gravity with AgZyme across all clones, though there were really no significant differences.
"From my perspective, like with Dakota Pearl, when you're gaining 30 sacks to the acre, it probably makes it economically advantageous to use the product," she says.
St. Anthony, Idaho, grower Burke Hanks has used it for a few years and has seen an increase in yield on potatoes of about three to five cwt per acre, as well as an increase in yield in hay. On grain, they saw an increase of about three bushels per acre as well as an increase in protein.
Reid says the foundation of the business is their products.
"I would say that people have put together similar products, but nobody has the same products we have, and that's very important to the success of our business," he says.
Ag Concepts is mostly focused on improving the soil.
"We're not trying to go out there and change growers' programs," he says. "We're just trying to get it off to a better start and also keep the soils sustainable."