Wool is a biodegradable, renewable resources that’s a by-product of global sheep industry that reduces the amount of water, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides needed for growing plants.
When pelletized, wool helps regulate water in the soil, reducing the need for watering, increases aeration, and are a slow release fertilizer with essential and micronutrients. The wool used is dirty, short, discoloured, breaks, and generally not wanted by anyone.
BUT WHAT IS THE IMPACT?
Wool pellets can be a local, sustainable, and long term way to improve soil quality, growing more and better food. Wool's natural properties also help prevent weeds and pests.
By using wool pellets to grow vegetable organically our estimates calculate that up to 600K square feet of chemicals could be replaced in the soil, promote a reduction of 42K litres of water, and divert 10,000lbs of wool away from burning or landfill. This also calculates into up to a reduction of 25000 lbs of C02 into the atmosphere.
An ongoing research project done by the University of Vermont shows that wool pellets could be a viable alternative to current chemical and organic fertilizer amendments. In Germany wool had greater water holding capacity than other materials in a study growing cucumbers, and there was a 33% crop increase in a Polish study using wool.
A USDA project conducted from 2016-2019 found that wool pellets can consistently supply nitrogen to plants with an NPK profile of 9-0-4, with virtually no phosphorus and only a small amount of potassium. This is an ideal combination for many vegetable growers while avoiding excess and harmful phosphorus in the soil. In addition as 50% of wool's weight is carbon, it may also be a way to sequester carbon.
Our food system needs to use fewer chemicals, become more circular, and more efficient to avoid climate catastrophe. It's time to combine what worked in the past and innovations of today to make our food systems cleaner.
HOW CAN YOU HELP US?
Change is done by many but begun by a few. If you want to help us make wool pellets available to many, here's what you can do: