Wool Pellets Honored in Farm Bureau Challenge

The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs with food and agriculture businesses. This year - out of 470 applicants from 47 states and Puerto Rico - Wild Valley Farms placed in the top four, bringing home $15,000 in start-up money.

The Croydon, Utah-based company hopes its all-natural, wool pellet plant fertilizer will have what it takes to net even more much needed start-up money.

The application process is pretty straight forward. Rural entrepreneurs go online and fill out an application which tells Farm Bureau judges about you and your business.

"The application is basically a business plan," says founder Albert Wilde. "From there, judges who are professors and investment bankers judge each entry."

In addition to their accomplishments at the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, the top four finishers have the opportunity to travel to Nashville on Jan. 7, 2018, to compete in the AFBF Convention for a chance to win additional start-up funds. The winner of the event earns an additional $15,000 - for a total of $30,000.

Judges look for rural businesses that can have the greatest positive impact in their communities and beyond. They also want to make sure the business has the right team in place to be successful.

Wilde feels confident that his business fits this mold.

"We have a unique product that solved two problems: one, waste wool for farmers; and two, fertilizing and water saving for plant lovers."

Local families can also get in on the fun and give Wild Valley Farms the opportunity to take home the people's choice award, which comes with an additional $10,000 prize. Check out http://www.StrongRuralAmerica.com for details.

"This has been really fun and exciting just to be chosen as a finalist. We were able to get some one-on-one business development help from business experts and media training while in Washington, D.C., so it's been very educational, as well," noted Wilde.

Getting into the top 10 was no easy task in 2017, as applicants increased from 350 last year to 470 this year.

Among the four finalists was Hawk Knob from Lewisburg, W.V. Hawk Knob creates hand-crafted cider and mead. SwineTech Inc. from Oskaloosa, Iowa, created a Fitbit for pigs that prevents baby pigs from being crushed by their mothers. GeoAir from Knoxville, Tenn., invented a drone that detects molds from the air in row crops like corn. And Wild Valley Farms rounded out the top four.

Wild Valley Farms introduced its innovative product last year. 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 considered worthless.

Seeing that waste, the Wildes - Albert, Eric and Logan - began focusing their attention on addressing that issue on their own ranch. Their imaginations turned into the reality of Water Wise Wool Pellets. These pellets are "a brand new way to grow healthy, happy, all natural plants." They are made from 100 percent American raw wool and provide fertilizer, porosity and water-wise holding ability to plants.

The whole process of pelletizing wool took about a year to develop, after which they had to start testing to understand all the benefits of using wool pellets for growing plants. According to Wilde, it took a lot of providence, friendship and 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, the pellets also wick away extra water, protecting plants from over-watering.

Wool pellets expand when added to soil, helping to increase porosity for optimal root growth. This increased porosity reduces the need for artificial additives. Water Wise Wool Pellets pride themselves on being natural, organic, sustainable and renewable - all important qualities in today's market.

Source: Morgan County News