Who we are.
Midwestern BioAg is an industry leader in biological agriculture with core facilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa and a sales force and network of dealers that cover 29 states and three Canadian provinces. Midwestern BioAg provides a route to “better farming through better soils”. We show farmers how to create a tailored farm management plan that builds the capacity of the soil to provide a wide range of economic and environmental benefits for the farm. We then help them execute on that plan by providing unique knowledge and a range of conventional and proprietary products that increase the productivity of the land, crops and livestock. Farmers who apply these biological systems increase yields, gain efficiency of inputs and make more money. Midwestern BioAg has been successfully helping farmers for more than 30 years, with over 4,000 farmer customers on more than 1 million acres.
A recent strategic investment provides the impetus for substantial growth beyond our traditional borders, increasing our reach to new farmers and new regions. We have a comprehensive growth plan to grow direct sales, expand strategically through partnerships with large landowners and food processors and make targeted acquisitions to integrate the supply chain and develop new products. This investment has brought new energy, new personnel and an enhanced strategic plan to the company. Midwestern BioAg will now be able to take advantage of the increasing demand for sustainable farming and help farms be more resilient in the face of a changing climate, variable weather conditions and an uncertain economy.
Our program helps farmers work with the best of what nature provides them to improve soil health. Because of this, the environmental benefits are enormous: increased drought resistance and improved water usage, reduction or elimination of nutrient runoff, substantial reduction in carbon footprint, and the rebuilding of soils to counteract erosion. The human health benefits are also substantial because fully mineralized, biologically grown plants incorporate more nutrients into the crops and have little or no residues from the crop-protection chemicals.
What drives us.
Biological farming is a thoughtful, systems-based approach to farming that uses the best strengths of new technologies and of historical farming practices. It incorporates the best practices of conventional farming and organic farming. While some biological farmers go all the way to certified organic and show performances that can out perform conventional agriculture, most adopt a middle ground between the convenience of chemical agriculture and the increased profitability from using more biological systems tools. Biological farmers search for ways to have the farm’s biology and ecosystem provide services for free that the farmer would otherwise pay for through the use of chemistry or farm equipment.
The basis behind biological farming is that all of the living organisms in healthy soils play a vital role in nutrient cycling and uptake and by building upon life promoting systems in the soil you can optimize the health and growth of plants. The first step in biological farming is to test and balance the full range of minerals in the soil, and to replenish nutrients needed beyond the standard nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium of traditional fertilizers to include an equal focus on secondary minerals like calcium and sulfur and the full range of trace minerals. Moreover, we use mineral forms that are less damaging to soil life and combine different sources of carbon into carbon-mineral formulations that feed biology at the same time as they provide appropriate nutrition.
Biological farmers feed and grow microbial soil life by using carbon from compost, green manures, livestock manures and crop residues. They choose crop rotations and cover crops that increase biodiversity and fix atmospheric nitrogen, thereby minimizing the use of chemically produced nitrogen and providing a free alternative to the most carbon-intensive input in chemical agriculture. We have found that improving the trace mineral availability and soil life dramatically reduces or in many cases can eliminate the need for pesticides and fungicides. Finally, biological farmers use limited tillage practices that preserve healthy soil structure while incorporating carbon from crop residues and cover crops back into the soil. The end result is a diverse, healthy ecosystem that produces higher yields at lower costs.
We truly believe in our mission statement: We’re here because we have a passion for farming, a desire to change agriculture for the better, and the belief that farming should be profitable and fun.
The People Behind Midwestern BioAg.
Dr. Tony Michaels, CEO
Dr. Anthony Michaels (Tony) is a nationally recognized leader in environmental science, innovation and sustainability. As Chief Executive Officer, he has spearheaded the creation of a comprehensive plan to expand Midwestern BioAg’s reach throughout the United States, and eventually, the world. He is dedicated to helping farmers be more productive and profitable and to making agriculture as a whole, safer, healthier and more sustainable.
Dr. Michaels is also co-Founder and co-Managing Director of Proteus Environmental Technologies. Past business positions include roles as Chief Scientist at Pegasus Capital Advisors, President of ReCommunity Energy and CEO of PhycoSystems. Before entering business in 2008, Dr. Michaels had an academic career in environmental and ocean sciences. He was the first Director of the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and he worked at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. Among his many board positions, Dr. Michaels is Chair of the board for the National Council for Science and the Environment and a Board member at the Global Institute on Sustainability at Arizona State University. Previously, he has been Chair of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, the Catalina Island Conservancy and the NSF Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education.
Dr. Michaels was educated at the University of California, San Diego, the University of Arizona (BS, MS) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D.). In the past 30 years he has published 100 scholarly papers.
Tony currently resides in both Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California with his wife, Claire.
Gary Zimmer, President and Co-Founder
Gary Zimmer is an internationally known author, speaker and consultant in biological farming. He helped begin Midwestern BioAg in 1984 as one of the founding partners. He is the author of two books, numerous articles on soils and livestock nutrition, and has addressed audiences around the globe. He serves as President and Chairman of the Board, and as “Chief Visionary Officer” for Midwestern BioAg. He has made a profound impact on thousands of farms across the United States, and helped improve agriculture worldwide.
Zimmer owns and operates, with his family, Otter Creek Organic Farm, near Lone Rock, WI.
Mike Beringer, Director of Human Resources
Mike Beringer joined the Midwestern BioAg team in the summer of 2013 to lead the Human Resources function. Mike’s Human Resources experience comes from a diverse background including telecommunications, construction, renewable energy and insurance. Mike holds a degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin- Stout, and has spent the better part of the last decade working in increasingly complex HR related positions. Mike’s primary focus is recruitment, compensation, benefits, performance management, employee relations and compliance.
Mike lives with his wife Nicole and their daughter Michaela, in Verona, WI.
To learn more about Mike, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Mark Halton, Chief Marketing Officer
Mark Halton recently joined Midwestern BioAg where he leads marketing, PR, and internal communications. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, with a special focus on agriculture and food. Most recently he spent five years as VP, Corporate Marketing & Communications at a major agricultural seed company. He led award-winning reputation marketing campaigns. For five years he served as VP and Director, Strategic Planning & Research at Campbell Mithun Chicago, a mid-sized advertising and PR agency. He worked on such food trade accounts as the National Pork Board, Dairy Management Inc., and the American Lamb Council, and a number of large consumer accounts. In the 1990s, he was a marketing consultant teaming with clients such as Caterpillar, Baxter Healthcare, and Knoll Pharmaceuticals. He began his career as a journalist, focusing on human rights and social justice. He has an M.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Florida and an A.B. from Davidson College.
Halton lives in Verona, WI, and St. Louis, MO, with his partner, Dr. Toni Kutchan.
To learn more about Mark, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Jennifer Hasburgh, Executive Project Manager and Secretary of the Corporation
Jennifer Hasburgh assumed the role of Senior Staff Analyst for Midwestern BioAg in the fall of 2012, after two years as a primary member of the Dispatch Department. During her time in that role, her dedication to detail, analytical skills, IT capabilities and her understanding of complex processes and procedures, distinguished her as a vital member of the management team. Ms. Hasburgh directs and completes numerous research and analytical projects, as well as assists the Chief Executive Officer in daily operations.
Ms. Hasburgh holds a Bachelor Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She lives with her husband, Scott, and their daughter Niki, in Highland, WI.
To learn more about Jen, visit her LinkedIn profile.
Ronnie Kurschner, Vice President of Operations
Ronnie Kurschner relies on his more than 20 years of experience in operations, product flow and application to serve Midwestern BioAg as Vice President of Operations. He is responsible for the daily plant operations of the Blue Mounds and Utica, MN facilities, including inventory control, staffing, equipment, maintenance, application services and logistics. Along with his son, Jeff, Kurschner directs the Dispatch Department of Midwestern BioAg.
Kurschner lives with his wife, Cherie, in Blanchardville, WI.
To learn more about Ronnie, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Ron Mason, Chief Procurement Officer
Ron Mason joined Midwestern BioAg at its inception in the 1980”s and has served the company in numerous roles over his career. He brings a thorough understanding of products, formulas, logistics, regulatory requirements and finance to his role as Chief Procurement Officer. Mason works with Midwestern BioAg’s providers of raw materials, manufacturers and storage providers to ensure adequate product flow into the Midwestern BioAg system. He maintains key contacts throughout the fertilizer and mineral industries as the primary contact person for Midwestern BioAg.
Mason lives with his wife, Ann, near Barneveld, WI.
To learn more about Ron, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Duane Siegenthaler, Chief Sales Officer
Duane Siegenthaler has been a key person in Midwestern BioAg since 1991. Beginning as an Independent Consultant in southwestern Wisconsin, his understanding of the BioAg program and ability to transfer that knowledge to the farmer allowed his business to grow substantially over the years. In 2008, Siegenthaler merged his business with the Midwestern BioAg organization. He was named Chief Sales Officer in 2014, and is responsible for the daily sales and directing the sales message throughout the Upper Midwest.
Siegenthaler lives with his wife, Brenda, near New Glarus, WI.
To learn more about Duane, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Dr. Steve Slater, Vice President of Research and Development
Steve Slater joined Midwestern BioAg in 2014. He is a geneticist/biochemist and has over 20 years of experience in biotechnology and agricultural research. He has particular expertise in genetics and genomics of bacteria and plants. Most recently he was Scientific Programs Manager at Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. From 2004 to 2008, Dr. Slater was an Associate Professor at Arizona State University. Prior to his work in academia, he spent nearly 10 years at Monsanto Co. as a Senior Scientist. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from Case Western Reserve University and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University.
Slater lives with his wife, Kirsten, in Middleton, WI.
To learn more about Steve, visit his LinkedIn profile.
Tom Vander Heiden, Vice President of Growth and Development
Tom Vander Heiden joined Midwestern BioAg in the fall of 2012 after three decades of working in agribusiness. His extensive experience in production agriculture, fertilizer plant operations, livestock nutrition and business development uniquely qualified him to lead Midwestern BioAg into new markets and opportunities. Vander Heiden relies on his extensive network within the industry, along with his market analysis skills, to lead Midwestern BioAg’s growth in new products, programs and geographic areas.
Vander Heiden lives with his wife, Beth, in New Praque, MN.
Leilani Zimmer-Durand, Vice President of Education, Training and Outreach
Leilani Zimmer Durand joined Midwestern BioAg in 2006 after spending 13 years attending graduate school and working in endangered species management in Hawaii.
Since coming to Midwestern BioAg, Leilani has worked heading up both the Research program and Education program, and together with her father, Gary Zimmer, authored a book on biological farming. She has also authored numerous articles on systems research and biological farming, and speaks both nationally and internationally on the connection between healthy soils and healthy, high-yielding crops.
Leilani holds her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master’s degree in Tropical Ecology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Leilani lives with her husband, Bartlett, and their two children in Middleton, WI.