This project will test the efficacy of using compost, as a mulch and weed suppressor, in small-scale no-till vegetable production.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Pine Creek Farms LLC
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Jonathan Stensgard
Pine Creek Farms LLC


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cropping systems, fertilizers, no-till
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: cultivation, mulches - general, mulches - living
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    Our main objective at Pine Creek Farms has always been quality over quantity, and the single most important step in achieving this goal, is soil health. After reading the works of Andrew Mefferd's The Organic No-Till Revolution and Jean Fortier's The Market Gardener, we quickly realized that no-till agriculture, with the use of compost, is the most sustainable, and surprisingly, efficient way of building our soil structure to promote higher yields, and subsequently, a more profitable farm. Where the problem lies, is how to efficiently incorporate compost into our soil in a no-till operation. We believe the solution is to utilize the compost, as both a mulch, and weed suppressor. Our objective is to measure the benefits of compost mulch, through the use of a self-loading compost spreader, by transplanting and seeding crops directly into a two inch thick layer of compost. This process counteracts the usual method of spreading and tilling the compost at the beginning of each season, by helping us achieve our no-till goals, while still promoting good soil health. Most importantly, we will be sharing our findings with the community and other famers through social media, an on-farm showcase, and our local newspaper. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate the efficacy of using compost, as both a mulch and weed suppressor.
    2. Evaluate if such practices will promote higher yields and profits, while cutting down on work load, such as weeding and tilling. 
    3. Share our findings with the community, and other farmers, through an on-farm showcase, social media, and our local newspaper, as well as posting a DIY construction video of our Self-Loading Compost Spreader design. 
    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.