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Elsewhere in ag utilization

Editor’s note: As a service to our readers, we provide news about the work of others in the ag utilization arena. Often, research done elsewhere complements AURI’s work. Please note that ARS is the research arm of the USDA.

Animal fuel for the Autobahn

Saria Bio-Industries, based in Germany, has built the world’s first animal biodiesel plant. The plant can produce 2.8 million gallons a year from animal carcasses.

Saria, which operates rendering plants in seven European countries, had to stop using fat from cattle carcasses as animal feed because of mad cow disease. The company is using the fuel in its own vehicles.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, 11/9/01.

Decoding sorghum secrets

With a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, NC+ Hybrids, Orion Genomics and SolviGene will work on transforming sorghum into an energy crop for ethanol production. The goal is to raise sorghum’s starch content, thereby cutting production costs nearly in half. The key to engineering high-starch content is decoding sorghum at the genetic level.

Source: Progressive Farmer, December 2001.

Can U.S. soy battle HIV/AIDS?

A new initiative in Botswana will deliver U.S. soy to those afflicted by malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. The project involves the first scientific trials on soy’s effect on recovery and health maintenance in HIV/AIDS patients and its impact on adult nutrition and child development in non-HIV populations.

Source: Illinois Soybean Association,

Reflecting on soy

The Iowa Department of Transportation is set to test reflective road markers made from a rugged, biodegradable soy-protein plastic.

Epoxied to the road, the glass bead-impregnated markers are tough enough to withstand the rigors of a season’s use. With the first winter snowfalls, the markers can be bladed from the surface and left to eventually decompose in the ditch. Installed markers cost $1 each compared to $50 for traditional iron markers.

Source: Iowa State University Center for Crops Utilization,; Dr. Perminus Mungara, (515) 294-9673.

Hungry for American fish

Aquaculture now supplies one-third of the world’s fish and seafood, up from 19 percent in 1990. The global aquaculture industry is valued at nearly $50 billion.

So far, the United States has been a minor player in the aquaculture revolution. Most farm-raised fish is produced in Asia; the United States imports over $9 billion worth of seafood and fish annually. The resulting $6.5 billion fisheries trade deficit is the largest of any food and agriculture commodity and the second largest, after petroleum, among natural products.

Source: Agricultural Research, December 2001.

Lycopene in a shrub

Ounce for ounce, the autumn olive shrub’s brilliant red berries have up to 17 times more lycopene than raw tomatoes. If future studies show that people readily absorb lycopene from the berry, it could become a processed-food ingredient.

Lycopene has generated widespread interest as a possible deterrent to heart disease and cancers of the prostate, cervix and gastrointestinal tract.

Source: Ingrid M. Fordham, USDA-ARS Fruit Laboratory, (301) 504-7649, ext. 456,

Juice to grow on

School children in the Dominican Republic’s government meal program are drinking a high-protein soy juice produced by Bon Agro Industriales in partnership with the American Soybean Association.

Children’s diets in this country are often calorie-rich but protein poor. Lack of refrigeration limits the storage and distribution of perishable products, including milk and meat. The soy-isolate juice, claimed to enhance children’s growth and development, is shipped in “tetra paks” that do not require refrigeration.

The American Soybean Association partners with industry with a stated goal of overcoming challenges common to emerging nations.

Source: Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board, (309) 663-7692,


Evidence suggests both soy and tomato products help fight cancer. Could they boost each other’s protective effect? With a $1.27 million USDA grant, Ohio State University researchers will study that question for three years. First, researchers will develop a new tomato-soy juice, soup or sauce.

Source: Yael Vodovotz, (614) 247-7696,

Fermenting away high blood pressure

In Japan, fermented milk drinks have been clinically proven to reduce high blood pressure. Fermentation breaks down casein and releases ACE-inhibiting peptides, which regulate an enzyme that controls blood pressure. Irish researchers are looking into increasing the concentration of ACE-inhibitory peptides in milk.

Source: The Furrow, November 2001.

Viva local logos

More than 650 growers and marketers purchased licenses to use Minnesota Grown logos in 2001. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports that consumers look for Minnesota Grown products because they taste fresher, are high quality, and buyers want to support the local economy.


$260 million for bioenergy

The USDA will make $260 million in loans and grants available for 24 states to boost bioenergy production, expand rural business ventures and improve economic and community development. Funds will help communities produce alternative fuels and strengthen rural economies,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, December 21, 2001.

Wild and oily

A wild plant called Cuphea may one day be a cash crop. It is rich in oils, including lauric oil, which is used in soaps, shampoos, detergents and high-energy foods. Cuphea research is being conducted at USDA’s Morris, Minn. lab.

Source: Progressive Farmer, February 2002.

Home plate for striped bass

Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas are ideal for hybrid striped bass. “The climate is not too warm, not too cold,” says Christopher C. Kohler, director of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center. “There’s tremendous potential for development of this industry in our region.” SIUC held a day-long aquaculture workshop in February to discuss aquaculture opportunities.

Source: Mary Carruthers, (618) 536-7761,

Official fiber

PLA now joins other fiber classes, including cotton, wool, silk, nylon and polyesters, as a recognized generic fiber. For a fiber to be classified PLA it must be manufactured from polylactic acid or poly lactate derived from natural sugars, such as those in corn or sugar beets. Cargill Dow, LLC received the designation for its NatureWorks fiber from the Federal Trade Commission.


Splashy potatoes

Orange mashed potatoes? Purple french fries? Colorful Andean potatoes may provide health benefits as well as new flavors, say researchers with the ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Production Research Unit in Prosser, Wash. They have developed potatoes with more than four times the antioxidant potential of current commercial varieties.

Source: Charles R. Brown, (509) 786-9252;

Aquaculture is cool

A 50,000-square-foot facility for investigating cool- and cold-water fish production has opened in Leetown, W. Va. The center will research genetics and breeding, health and nutrition for species that thrive in temperatures ranging from 39 to 68 degrees F.

Domestic aquaculture now meets 10 percent of U.S. consumer needs and ranks 10th in the world for production value. Eventually, scientists at the new center will develop collaborative programs with other state and national research institutions.

Source: William Hershberger, National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture, (304) 724-8340.

Biodiesel in Illinois

FS/GROWMARK cooperatives throughout Illinois are now offering on-farm biodiesel in blends from 2 to 20 percent. Although primarily selling to farmers, FS also markets biodiesel to consumers, businesses and fuel purchasers. A recent boost for business: John Deere has approved soy-diesel fuel for use in its diesel-powered products.

Source: Gail Miller, GROWMARK, (309) 557-6184.

Siouxland feeds ethanol stream

A little over a year after breaking ground for a 14-million-gallon ethanol plant, Siouxland Energy & Livestock Cooperative began producing ethanol in December 2001.

The Sioux Center, Iowa company is one of two plants in the United States using high-moisture corn to produce ethanol. The plant is located next to a feedlot — the market for Siouxland’s feed coproducts. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board says six more farmer-owned ethanol plants are expected to be on line in Iowa over the next two years.


Cherries jubilee for arthritics

Arthritis sufferers have sworn by the healing power of Michigan’s tart cherries for years. Now science lends credence to this folk tonic. Michigan State University research reveals that the compounds responsible for the cherries’ bright red color can also relieve arthritis pain and gout.

Source: Successful Farming, February 2002.

Penn’s Corner

Twenty-one farmers in nine counties surrounding Pittsburgh, Penn. formed Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance in 1999 to supply fresh produce to restaurants and food stores. The alliance supplies a wide range of produce including honey, rabbits, lambs and herbs to two grocery stores and 29 upscale restaurants.

Source: Successful Farming, February 2002; Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, (814) 743-6589,

Blowin’ in the money

More farmers and cooperatives appear to be investigating wind generators as an income source. After servicing debt and maintenance costs, farmers can clear more than $20,000 annually per tower; that’s 15 times the income they earn selling wind rights.

The top 10 wind-power-producing states in the nation are California, North Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Sources: Progressive Farmer, Mid-APRIL 2002; American Wind Energy Association,

Bitter melon better for Ohio

A study funded by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center found that bitter melon, Asian eggplant and specialty sweet potatoes are promising new crops for Ohio farmers. Adapted to Ohio’s climate, they are especially suited to smaller farms. As an alternative to growing tobacco, the crops should find ready markets in cities where Asian, Indian and Mediterranean dishes abound.

Source: OARDC Report, Nov./Dec. 2001.

Value-added conference in Wisconsin

A regional value-added ag conference will be held April 2-3, 2002 in Madison, Wisc. It is cosponsored by the Missouri and Wisconsin state agriculture departments, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Iowa State University and North Dakota Rural Electric Cooperatives. Call 1-866-466-8283 for more information.


Value-added workshops in Missouri

“Adding Value from the Gate to the Plate” is a hands-on workshop to help farmers move value-added ag projects from idea to implementation. The workshop is offered by the Agriculture Innovation Center at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact Deanne Hackman toll-free at 1-866-466-8283 or