A Minnesota native, Craig Bariball is no stranger to what it takes to make things grow. From golf course greens to manicured lawns and specialty crops to broadacre agriculture, Craig has experienced the challenges of helping each “crop” reach its potential. Craig knew early-on that his interests lay in the soil below his feet and pursued an education in turf grass management and soils at Pennsylvania State University.
These days, you can find Craig helping farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and north central Iowa, make the most of their acres as a member of the Concept AgriTek team since early August.
“I started out in the golf course industry, right out of college, and that brought me and my wife to Kansas for a short time and then to Pensacola, Florida, for the next 25 years where we raised our two boys. I spent some time in the golf course industry in Florida, but most of my time was spent working my own landscaping, maintenance and lawncare business,” he says adding that you can take a boy out of Minnesota but you can’t take Minnesota out of the boy. “Growing up in Minnesota, we had four seasons. I missed that in Florida, where you have two seasons, hot and hotter. My wife and I also love to ice fish and that’s pretty hard to do in Florida.”
Returning to Minnesota as a farm manager, Craig managed high tunnel agriculture, eventually transitioning to growing fruits and vegetables in “open sky”, outside of the high tunnels, for the next decade. This experience fueled his interest in learning more about plant and soil science and the symbiosis between the two.
“I started working with an agronomist for a company who introduced me to humic and fulvic acids. It transformed the way I farmed,” Craig recalls of his entry to a profession that would become a fulfilling career. “I hadn’t ever been in sales, but when a position with that company came available, I took it and haven’t ever looked back.”
Craig tells us that his search for answers and interest in learning more led him to Concept AgriTek.
“They’re constantly digging. They’re never satisfied with the status quo, especially when it comes to technology, and I love that,” he says. “I also like the support we have with our agronomists, Trey and the other sales reps. If I have questions, I don’t have to go outside of the company for an answer, and that’s a big deal to me.”
His favorite part of being a District Sales Manager for Concept AgriTek comes from the face-to-face conversations he gets to have with farmers, learning what their pain points are, working to find a solution to their challenges and then assessing the program at the end of the growing season to learn what has worked and what hasn’t.
Craig says that there was a time, just a few years ago, that humic and fulvic acids were looked at as “snake oil”. Today, they are widely accepted within the industry, and he is seeing the same thing across the biological market.
“Getting to do the forensic deep-dive into a situation is really fun for me, the face-to-face with the growers is something that I really enjoy—working through things with them,” Craig says. “I’m trying to learn more and the communication on our Concept AgriTek team helps me do that. I can use what I learn from the rest of the team in my conversations with growers and dealers. And I think that any farmer will tell you that a lot of times you learn more from the failures than you do the successes. When we are all sharing everything, successes and failures, it’s a benefit to everyone.”