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Article

Wool Pellets Are a Viable Alternative to Commercial Fertilizer for Organic Vegetable Production

1
Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont, 63 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
2
Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont, 63 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Elena Testani
Agronomy 2022, 12(5), 1210; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051210
Received: 19 March 2022 / Revised: 14 May 2022 / Accepted: 16 May 2022 / Published: 18 May 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroecology for Organic Vegetable Systems Redesign)
The maintenance of optimum mineral nutrient fertility is a limiting factor in organic vegetable systems, with many growers resorting to applications of off-farm commercial fertilizer inputs. In this study, pelleted sheep’s wool was compared against a standard commercial fertilizer product for effects on productivity and plant growth in spinach and tomato. Two rates of wool pellets were applied; one was standardized to the nitrogen inputs of the ‘grower standard’ commercial treatment, and a second higher rate which was suggested by the pellet manufacturer with about 2.5 times the nitrogen content. Overall, few differences were observed among the fertilized treatments. Crop yield for both tomato and spinach generally increased with increasing fertility application, with no differences between commercial and wool pellet fertilizers applied at the same rate of nitrogen. The uptake of mineral nutrients in spinach plant tissues differed for K, Mg, P, S, B, and Ca, but there was no general trend that could be attributed to a particular treatment. Tomato fruit quality was the same for all treatments, but non-fertilized fruit had lower total polyphenols than the highest-fertility treatment. Overall, wool pellets performed very similarly to commercial organic fertilizer for both crops and could be a promising alternative that may open up opportunities for greater integration of plant and animal systems on diversified farms. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecology; plant and animal integration; crop fertility; tomato; spinach agroecology; plant and animal integration; crop fertility; tomato; spinach
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bradshaw, T.; Hagen, K. Wool Pellets Are a Viable Alternative to Commercial Fertilizer for Organic Vegetable Production. Agronomy 2022, 12, 1210. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051210

AMA Style

Bradshaw T, Hagen K. Wool Pellets Are a Viable Alternative to Commercial Fertilizer for Organic Vegetable Production. Agronomy. 2022; 12(5):1210. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051210

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bradshaw, Terence, and Kimberley Hagen. 2022. "Wool Pellets Are a Viable Alternative to Commercial Fertilizer for Organic Vegetable Production" Agronomy 12, no. 5: 1210. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12051210

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