Integrating Sheep Wool Pellets with Specialty Crop Systems to Enhance Soil Health, Water Storage, Carbon Sequestration, and Plant Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $17,736.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: Marble Hill Farm
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Whitney Schlegel
Marble Hill Farm


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Shearing is a necessary step in the husbandry of sheep, required
for animal health and welfare.  Since 1994, the market price
for wool has been dropping, now below the cost of shearing. 
If not utilized in small batch wool niche markets, limited by
availability of fiber mills, and with few wool buyers in NCR wool
piles up in barns or is dumped in sink holes and woods. 
Waste wool from farm sources is increasingly considered a
potential fertilizer source and improves soil water holding
capacity and quality characteristics.  Integrating animal
and plant growing systems shows promise toward mitigating the
impact of agriculture on climate change.  The application of
wool has been observed to have a beneficial effect on soil
quality and plant performance with few negative effects; yet,
there is still much to be understood with regards to application
rates and timing for specific crops and soils.  Field trials
around the globe and in the Northeast and Southwest have begun to
evaluate the effects of wool pellets and other waste wool
products on the growth and productivity of field and vegetable
crops; however, knowledge and application of wool pellets in the
NCR is very limited.

Project objectives from proposal:

Wool Pellet Specialty Crop
Project Overview and Timeline
(Project Work Overview and
Timeline, PDF)

This demonstration and education proposal aims to apply wool
pellets as a soil amendment in organic specialty (vegetable) crop
growing systems.  The farmer team will explore how wool
pellets fit with current management practices and can be used to
meet soil nutrient requirements for organic crops.  The
results from this on-farm implementation of wool pellets in
growing broccoli, brussel sprouts in the field and kale in high
tunnel production will be shared during field days, conference
presentations, web and social media outlets and in
publications.  Additionally, videos will be produced
and photographs taken to facilitate sharing and learning about
wool, pelletizing wool, application of wool pellets as a soil
amendment and the influence of wool pellets on soil health and
crop production.  The farmer rancher team believes that in
order for there to be adoption of new management practices in
farming systems that they must be applied and shared
locally/regionally farmer-to-farmer so as to facilitate
innovation and new management practices that can be applied on
each unique small farm.


  1. Local integration of animal (sheep wool) and plant
    (vegetable) systems
  2. Demonstrate the potential for reducing wool waste and
    providing value added product for sheep producers
  3. Provide for enhanced soil nutrient cycling in organic
    specialty crop systems using wool pellets
  4. Evaluate and share best management practices for wool pellet
    integration with specialty crop growing systems
  5. Demonstrate production and implementation of wool pellets in
    organic specialty crop production for sheep producers and
    specialty crop growers.

A figure provides an overview of the three phases of the
project work plan (Planning, Implementation with Demonstration,
and Dissemination) along with a timeline.


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.