Since Morgan County was first settled, frugal men and women have been coming up with new ways to make the most of everything. Waste was frowned upon back in the good old days, but modern conveniences make it easier to toss things aside without thought of whether or not this “garbage” might still be useful.
Each year, thousands of sheep farmers shear their flocks and most of the wool obtained is sold to make clothing. However, the belly wool and wool from around the back end of the sheep, called tags, was mostly just disposed of.
Seeing that waste, the Wildes—Albert, Eric and Logan—began focusing their attention on addressing that issue on their own ranch in Croydon.
“In 2012 I was discussing with my brother ideas of how else we could use wool. We found that wool could be used as a fertilizer. The problems were it breaks down slowly, there was no good way to handle or spread the wool, and expense was high,” said Albert.
One of Albert’s business partners, Dave Streadbeck, was in discussions to buy a pellet mill at the time. When he finally did so in 2015, Albert arranged a time to make an experiment of trying to pelletize the wool.
“A week before the experiment, Brian Gold from Pineae Greenhouses came to visit me and asked if I had organic steer manure for a project he was working on with Costco. I asked him if he would like to try wool pellets. He said he had never heard of them, and I told him no one has. I said it would be possible to have some next week if my experiment worked,” remembered Albert.
However, Albert didn’t know what their nutritional value would be. Through James Barnhill, extension agent for Utah State University, he found some articles regarding tests that were performed in Europe mainly with tomato plants and wool.
Seeing the success of these studies, Albert enlisted the help of the Streadbecks, who now owned and operated a pellet mills as Woodscape of Utah, and went to work creating the first Wooley Water Wise Wool Pellets. The pellets were shared with Pineae Greenhouses so that Gold could begin testing of his own. “With each test, the results became more and more amazing,” said Albert.
The wool pellets are now patent pending and are “a brand new way to grow healthy, happy, all natural plants.” These pellets are made from 100 percent American raw wool and provide fertilizer, porosity and water-wise holding ability to plants.
In England, wool pellets are used to repel slugs and snails, but there is no other fertilizer product like this in the world. Wool pellets have a fertilizer value of 9-1-2 NPK and contain just the right blend of calcium, magnesium, iron, sulfur and other micronutrients. The pellets reduce the need for fertilizer in general as they are a slow-release product. The slow release helps your plants grow all year long without re-fertilization.
The whole process really only took about a year to develop after they obtained the ability to pelletize the wool. But according to Albert, it took a lot of providence, friendship and good old hard work to make this innovative product a reality.
These new wool fertilizer superheroes have the ability to hold 20 times their weight in water. This is a real blessing in times of drought as it helps to reduce the number of times you need to water your plants. In addition to reducing water usage, they also wick away extra water, protecting your plants from over-watering.
Wool pellets expand when added to your soil, helping to increase porosity for optimal root growth. This increased porosity reduces the need for artificial additives like Perlite. Wooley Water Wise Wool Pellets pride themselves on being natural, organic, sustainable and renewable—all vastly important qualities in today’s market.
According to Wild Valley Farms, tests are still ongoing. Albert commented that through this development process, he has learned a lot about plants and what they need to grow. “I have learned how research is done and how to find the information needed to develop a product.” He says they are currently conducting tests with the University of Florida and Utah State University.
While the product is mostly geared toward large growers like Pineae, who “by the end of the season may buy all Wild Valley Farms can produce,” Albert mentioned that half pound bags will be available to the general public for use with their flowers and other potted plants. He assures it will be affordable, costing only around $0.50 per 2.5 quart potted plant.
The pellets are added to existing soil. However, in the future, the group may create a soil mix as many of the private growers don’t mix their own soils.
Locals wishing to support this venture will also be able to buy hanging baskets with Wooley Water Wise Wool Pellets at Costco in the spring of this year. “These baskets will stay looking better longer because of the natural slow release fertilizer. The baskets will absorb and hold water better than any on the market,” Albert said.
You can also order Wooley Water Wise Wool Pellets and other great online at www.wildvalleyfarms.com.