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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.

Bioplastic harvest

John Deere 2002 combines will feature new soy-based polymer and soy- and corn-based resin panels. The new materials were developed in part by soybean checkoff funding and the United Soybean Board.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, August 10, 2001

Pulp reality

An Iowa company is making paper from cornstalk fiber. Mells Industries in Des Moines combines 50 percent cornstalk pulp with a mixture of recycled wood pulp, softwood pulp and cotton to make paper. Mells plans to build a plant to process 300,000 tons of cornstalks a year and put an estimated $10 million in the pockets of nearly 200 local corn producers.

Source: The Furrow magazine, September/October 2001

Farmers milk Wisconsin tourism

Dennis and Roxanne Schopf, owners of Hilltop Dairy in Door County, Wisc., recently doubled their herd and made ag tourism an integral part of their expansion.

In addition to a high-tech milking parlor, their operation now features a visitor center/classroom fitted with TV monitors, a 28-foot window-wall to the milking parlor, a country store and a dairy bar where the Schopfs sell fresh ice cream. There is also a life-size cow replica to “milk,” videos about milk production and a corn maze.

Source: Ag Partners, October/ November 2001

A soybean in your tank

United Energy Distributors has opened a service station offering soy biodiesel in Aiken, S.C. Consumers can fill their tanks with soy-based biodiesel, E-85 or other alternative fuels.

Some fueling stations in San Francisco, Calif. and Sparks, Nev. are offering pure biodiesel. According to the National Biodiesel Board, 13 biodiesel suppliers are now registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, up from just two in 1996.


Chewing the film

A University of Illinois researcher has designed a biodegradable corn zein film that is water resistant. For use in hay coverings, the film is safe for the environment and is edible for livestock.

Source: Progressive Farmer, August 2001

Ethanol on the march

The ethanol industry is on track to produce a record 1.8 billion gallons in 2001. The industry will also set a new capacity expansion record this year. There are 13 ethanol plants under construction and 57 plants in operation. According to a California Energy Commission final report, U.S. ethanol production capacity is projected to reach over four billion gallons per year by the end of 2003.


Cash for value-added research

A $5 million multi-state grant to establish an Agricultural Marketing Resource Center will be administered by Iowa State University Extension. The center will link university scientists with outreach specialists to analyze markets and design research for value-added agriculture.

The center is a consortium of Iowa State University, Kansas State University, the University of California and Oklahoma State University. Its mission is to provide ag producers and processors with knowledge-based resources to better compete in the global marketplace.

Source: Mary Holz-Clause, Extension Value-Added Agriculture Program, (515) 294-0648,

Taste buds can read

In a study conducted in three Midwest urban retail groceries, labels were shown to influence taste. Customers were asked their preference of a tender versus tough steak. The first group relied on their own taste without labels; the second group was served labeled steaks. The study found 69 percent preferred the tender selection when relying on their own taste. But 84 percent preferred the “tender” steak when choices were labeled. “Providing consumer information affected shoppers’ choices,” says Ted Schroeder, Kansas State University agricultural economist.

Source: Kansas State University news service

Breeding edamame

Ohio State University researchers are crossbreeding to develop new edamame varieties. Edamame is an edible soybean, originally from Asia. Researchers want to produce a tasty variety with higher oil and protein content. They are field-testing 10 varieties and breeding 136 more in the greenhouse. OSU’s Ron Fioritto says Ohio has a potential edamame market with the state’s large Asian population.

Source: Ron Fioritto, (330) 263-3851,

Can ethanol roll a lucky seven?

The ground has been broken for a corn ethanol pilot plant at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Ten projects have been identified with the potential to reduce production costs. If just seven of these technologies are sped to commercialization through the pilot plant, the cost of converting corn to ethanol could be reduced by up to 10 cents a gallon.

Source: and

U.S. soy greets Asia

This fall, consumers in India were introduced to Nutri Besan, a 20-percent soy flour. The flour was developed and marketed by Taiwanese and Indian soy food processors, with a nudge from the American Soybean Association.

Another project has had customers of Taiwan’s 2,800 7-Eleven stores snapping up hot tofu snacks called “Lucky Sacks,” for nearly a year. Since some customers might simmer them in water too long, the hot-pocket-style snack must hold together for seven hours — only U.S. food grade soybeans give the tofu that functionality.

Source: Theresa Miller, Illinois Soybean Association, (309) 663-7692.

Please, sir, may I have some milk?

Results of a five-month study conducted in middle and high schools in five major U.S. markets demonstrate strong interest in vended milk.

Conducted by the national “Got milk?” campaign, the study revealed that many students would choose milk over other beverages if it were convenient and available. With widespread school milk vending, the estimated increase in milk consumption would be 16.3 million gallons, or four percent per year. The key is to have milk available in branded, single-serve packaging with a variety of flavors and fat levels.

Source:; an executive summary is available at