For his ongoing water flow and phosphorus monitoring project in the Antigo Flats potato and vegetable production area, Chuck Bolte of VAS Laboratories, formerly known as AgSource Laboratories, has been awarded WPVGA competitive research grants annually for several years.
Potato growers in the Antigo Flats area of Wisconsin are taking a leadership role in an effort to proactively control phosphorus runoff in the Spring Brook and Eau Claire River watersheds.
The Antigo Flats is designated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as an area with unique characteristics that best represent the state soil—Antigo silt loam.
The project of controlling and monitoring phosphorous runoff started in early 2016 when the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) awarded AgSource Laboratories a grant to build a spatial database of the PI (Phosphorus Index) for all the potato growers in the area.
With a 50-plus-year history of soil testing and nutrient management planning, AgSource Laboratories, a full-service agronomy lab, recently merged with its sister company ,VAS, a leader in software for dairy operations.
Known for its VAS PULSE Platform and Dairy-Comp cattle monitoring database software, VAS has an extensive background in web-based suites, including field data collection and monitoring for farms.
The goal of VAS Laboratories remains the same—to create clarity out of research and raw data points, equipping growers with the power to make informed management decisions.
Bolte grew up on the outskirts of Appleton, Wisconsin. His grandparents had a registered Ayrshire dairy farm near Lake Poygan, where he spent a lot of time visiting and helping with his grandma’s garden.
“My love of playing in the dirt led me to UW-Stevens Point, where I majored in soil science with minors in biology and waters,” Bolte says.
He eventually started at AgSource (now VAS) doing soil sampling when precision ag was in its infancy, and in 2004, they added nutrient management to the services he performed for clients.
“From there, we have grown to having a team of 10 conducting nutrient management and soil sampling services. In 2017, we purchased Andy Merry’s crop scouting business and added that to the service offerings,” he adds.
Bolte says working with growers all over is one of his favorite things about his job, but one area tops the list.
“The Antigo Flats is my home territory and holds a special place. Very few consultants get the opportunity to work with the concentration of growers that I do here. I love getting out on the farm to provide insights and help them make decisions. Seeing them make changes over the years that help protect the environment and improve the soil health is what drives me to continue what we do.”