Increasing yields, plant vigor and soil health with the use of woodchips

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $7,493.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Cicero Farm Market
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: no-till, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    According to an April 29, 2017 article, written by Dr. Patrick Quillin, PhD, Rd,Cns, the majority of today’s farming soil is mineral deficient, farms are experiencing soil erosion and mineral depletion by leaching caused by irrigation. The soil has few microorganisms, earth worms or beneficial fungi . The constant applying of fertilizers or pesticides, whether commercial or organic is not building healthy soil, and is an added expense............. When using woodchips as a renewable “waste” product, the issue of burning them or dumping them into landfills is avoided. Decomposing wood chips can become a viable way to create more fertile and productive soil. Using decomposing wood chips as a covering as well as a planting medium keeps the soil moist so less irrigation is required. As the wood chips continue to break down, the underlying soil becomes even more fertile with an abundance of life forms and there seems to be no negative reactions, example, toxicity or nutrient tie up. Using wood chips is economically sound (they are the natural waste/by-product of utility companies and landscapers trimming trees), less weeding is required and vegetable plants are less prone to disease.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Show that decomposing woods chips improve the fertility of soil, less soil compaction is present, and soil moisture improves through biological, nutrient testing and soil meters
    2. Compare the productivity of sweet corn, green beans and potatoes. Amount of produce by weight and root mass of these vegetables will be recorded. One test plot with decomposing wood chips, one test plot plain ....
    3. Findings will be shared through website, social media and conference presentation
    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.