Solving the Compost Conundrum: Utilizing Microbial Inoculation to Increase Fertility and Soil Health on Small Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $15,565.00
Projected End Date: 04/01/2026
Grant Recipient: Urban Soil Health
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Megan Ayers
Urban Soil Health


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

This project's aim will be the reduction of inputs into soil
profiles by small farmers, decrease in costs to early season
production, increase in biodiversity of the soil, and an
injection into the local economy while simultaneously lowering
the farm's carbon footprint.

By inoculating locally-available, less expensive and
lower-quality compost with a microbially complete product,
farmers will reduce early season costs, create a more sustainable
soil, contribute to the local economy (rather than outsourcing to
nationally-recognized high-quality compost purveyors), and
benefit from a more resilient crop as a result of the healthier

The soil's ability to maintain its health through this process
will be invaluable to farmers who grow on a small-scale,
intensive manner, and rely on soil health practices to produce
nutrient-dense food. By making compost more alive and longer
lasting, small, diversified crop farmers can reduce costs,
increase yield, and improve soil health in a relatively short

Project objectives from proposal:


  1. To prove that microbial life can improve poor compost quality
  2. To grow more food with fewer economic and off-farm organic
  3. To improve plant disease and pest resistance
  4. To extend the life of locally-sourced, lower quality compost
  5. To decrease farm costs during early season bed preparations
  6. To educate small farms about soil health practices that can
    achieve the above
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.