Establish a system of composting to produce local sustainable agricultural inputs

Progress report for FNC22-1352

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,725.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Sun Sprout Farm
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Bailey Scott
Sun Sprout Farm
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Project Information

Description of operation:

Our operation is 332 acres of corn and soy as well as an acre of vegetable gardens and orchard. We did our first time of cover cropping in the late summer of 2021 and sprayed with a biological product called Holganix on 264 acres in the summer of 2022. This next year we are gearing up to spray all of the ground with biologically complete compost extract and teas.


Soil health is one of the largest problems in the world today.  Our soil is depleted and poisoned and this is largely due to our agricultural practices.  Being a farmer in southern Minnesota I have experienced the very limited options for fertilizer and soil amendments.  Most of these options are synthetic and shipped in from far away places.  Synthetic fertilizers are destroying the microorganisms in the soil which are essential for growing healthy crops.  Not to mention the environmental destruction factors from the production processes of the synthetic fertilizers.   In order to address this huge problem we need to create local systems that produce the inputs needed for large scale agriculture.  The process of making our own organic inputs will strengthen the community all while rebuilding the health and diversity of our soils.  This project will be a template for communities all over to take a huge step towards environmental regeneration and self sufficiency.

Project Objectives:
  1.  Establish a systematic way to produce local sustainable agricultural inputs.
  2. Share findings and bring awareness through field days and educational gatherings.
  3. Create community around soil health and environmental stewardship.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • John Weseman (Educator)


Materials and methods:

We had a great season of getting this project going.  We employed a great intern who helped a lot and learned a lot about composting systems.  Our timeline goals were a little delayed throughout the year. We found that everything seems to take longer than anticipated.  We ended up not ordering the brewer this season because the shipping was delayed to 24 weeks and we wanted to experiment with the equipment we had to determine which style and size w0uld best suit our needs.  After brewing 3 brews this fall in a square 250 gallon tank we determined that the 1,000 gallon tank is definitely what we need to satisfy the amount of acres we are wanting to cover. So we are in the process of submitting that order so we will be ready for spring time brewing.

Research results and discussion:

We have no results yet because it is winter and we haven't had enough spraying done on warm soils to see the effects.

Participation Summary
3 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Other educational activities: Met with the FFA teacher at the local high school to educate about the project and to recruit our summer intern.

Participation Summary:

3 Farmers participated
Education/outreach description:

We have a field day planned for June 24th, 2023 where we will talk about the project and tour some fields and garden spaces to see how the compost teas and extracts are working.  We did meet with the FFA teacher at the highschool to talk about the project and offer the internship to interested students.

Learning Outcomes

4 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Lessons Learned:

This grant has taught us how to use our microscope to see what is going on in our soil on a microscopic level. This has helped us to see what is lacking and what is working in the soil food web.  This directly impacts the health of our plants and therefore yield and success of our farm.  We are currently gearing up for the next year's growing season by creating year round bio complete compost to use in the creation of our compost teas and extracts that we plan to spray throughout the growing season.  We are also practicing identifying different micro organisms with the microscope so that we can be more proficient in analyzing the health of our soil. 

Lessening our herbicide and fertilizer inputs is the main advantage of our project which is more cost effective as well as environmentally more beneficial.  The disadvantages is that we have been on a sharp learning curve of how to retrofit our current equipment to successfully create and distribute the micro organisms.  I would tell other farmers about how this has been a fun learning process and has been empowering to learn that it is possible to farm in a more symbiotic way and let biology do the work.

Project Outcomes

3 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
1 Grant received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.