Reid and I were invited to do a presentation for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about wool pellets. After talking it through and explaining to them that we are not soil experts but do know wool. We decided to jump on the chance to get more information out about wool pellets. Next, we needed to recruit some help and what better person than our daughter who is a senior in college and makes building a power presentation look easy peasy.
Reid dove deep into internet research to expand his knowledge even further on Wool Pellets. Here are some fun facts he found.
“Wool as Fertilizer
In conjunction with Utah State University Extension, Wilde developed wool pellets initially as a fertilizer for plants. “Plants need Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium to grow. But they need Nitrogen the most” says Wilde. If you’re helping your garden to grow using compost, you might be getting 1-2% Nitrogen. If you’re using poultry manure fertilizer you might be getting 4.5% Nitrogen. “With sheep’s wool, you’re getting between 9.3% – 14% Nitrogen.” When Wilde and his team starting testing the impact of such high Nitrogen numbers, they found that with typical fertilizer, Greenhouses could bring organic tomatoes from seed to market-ready in about 76 days, but with wool pellets and their Nitrogen punch, you could bring tomatoes market-ready in as little as 38 days! So, pop some wool pellets in with your seeds and get ready to watch your garden grow.”
“Wilde has heard numerous stories about wool protecting against Aphids. “It’s really interesting,” says Wilde, “Plants like strawberries might have been healthier due to the wool being used as fertilizer, and that’s what actually keeps the Aphids away… because healthier plants are less susceptible to disease or pests.”
“Wool and Water
Everyone is looking for that magic thing that will allow them to go on vacation and come home to living, breathing plants. And Wilde thinks wool might be the key. Ever heard of a Wilt Study? We hadn’t either, until Wilde filled us in. Basically, a Wilt Study is when you see how long it takes a plant to begin to wilt and then eventually die, without the reintroduction of water. Wilde and his team conducted one study in 4” pots and this is what they found:
Traditional soil had wilting plants on days 1 and 2, and dead plants on days 5 and 6
Soil married with wool had wilting plants on days 7 and 8, and then dead plants on day 14
“What’s happening here,” says Wilde, “is that because wool can hold between 20-30x its own weight in water, and then release it slowly, it’s allowing these plants to continuously have access to water, without overwatering them.” That’s the key here — a lot of materials can hold water next to the roots of a plant, but so far, wool is the clear leader for slowly releasing that water to each plant when it needs it. “Traditionally you have to keep adding more and more water to keep plants healthy,” he says, “but with wool, you can actually conserve water with better results for the plants.” Opting to mix wool pellets in with your plant’s soil can allow you to go seven days without having to worry about your plant starting to wilt and die.”
“Farmers have not seen wool as a valuable output for some time now. It is perceived and treated as a burdensome waste product which needs to be dealt with for animal welfare reasons. This apathy from farmers presents a threat of wool being forever undervalued and underutilized. Waste is a resource in the right hands and wool needs to be seen as an important bioresource”
“But first, what exactly is soil porosity? It refers to the space between soil particles, which can be filled with either air or water. Porous soil ensures that plants have adequate air circulation and water drainage, which are both essential for robust root development. Plants in poorly aerated soils may suffer from root rot, decreased nutrient uptake, and stunted growth. Enter Wool Pellets”
“Aeration: As wool pellets expand, they create small pockets or air spaces within the soil. This allows for better oxygen penetration, ensuring that plant roots breathe efficiently. Good aeration is crucial in preventing root diseases and promoting healthy root systems.”
There are so many interesting studies and reviews out there about Wool Pellets. We are excited to be able to start sharing more and more as people continue to use them. When you are dreaming about your starting your gardens this spring maybe take a little time to do your own deep dive into researching wool pellets.
American Wool. “4 Reasons to Introduce Wool into Your Garden.” American Wool, 19 May 2021, www.americanwool.org/4-reasons-to-introduce-wool-into-your-garden/.
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Review of Market ..., assets.gov.ie/228775/bfd187ee-8ea3-40a0-9e6b-d99da3b57147.pdf. Accessed 6 Jan. 2024.
“Increase the Porosity in Your Soil for Optimal Root Growth.” WILD VALLEY FARMS, www.wildvalleyfarms.com/healthy-gardening-blog/increase-the-porosity-in-your-soil-for-optimal-root-growth. Accessed 5 Jan. 2024.