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Elsewhere in Ag Utilization

Editors 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 USDA’s research arm and EPA is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Not just for vampires anymore

Smelly garlic not only keeps vampires at bay, scientists say it drives slugs and snails out of gardens. Biologists at the University of New Castle, UK, have found that garlic oil repels the mollusks, which can do significant damage to crops such as lettuce, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Laboratory tests show that an experimental, refined garlic spray can effectively deter or even kill the slugs. The garlic oil will now be field tested.

Source: BBC News, Sept. 12, 2003

One CD please, and hold the cob

Sanyo Mavic Media Company has developed a biodegradable compact disc made from corn resin. Plastic used in the discs, cases and packaging is based on corn-derived polylactic acid that can be broken down by microbes within one to four weeks of disposal. The discs can be used for music and video CDs or as CD-ROMs. They are indistinguishable from conventional discs in recorded audio and video quality, but are less tolerant of high temperatures.

Source: Nikkei English News Service, Sept. 24, 2003

Sticky corn

An Illinois company is marketing a new line of corn-based industrial adhesives for the plywood manufacturing industry. Z-Bind is an adhesive-extending component that uses corn-bran lignin as well as soluble-fiber glue. EPA emission regulations regarding adhesives that contain chemicals such as formaldehyde are driving up manufacturing costs. Z-bind offers an affordable alternative to plywood manufacturers seeking superior, environmentally-friendly adhesives.

Source:, Oct. 22, 2003

Pack of pepper pesticides

Black pepper extracts discourage insect pests from laying eggs on crop leaves and pose a lower risk to humans than other pesticides, according to a study by the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. Laboratory evaluations show the pepper is effective on pine sawflies and eastern tent caterpillars and penetrates best when applied during the soft-bodied larval stage. The extracts were as efficient as the synthetic pesticide diazinon without such potential drawbacks as groundwater contamination, insect resistance and human illness. People in West Africa, India and South America have for years used pepper oil and dust to protect their homes and grain supplies from bugs.

Source: CBC News, Sept. 10, 2003

From Russia with buzz

Canadian beekeepers are hoping Russian honeybee queens will help them combat parasitic mites and curb the need for chemical controls. The Russian queens are resistant to varroa and tracheal mites – two of the most harmful bee parasites. Chemicals are typically used to control mites, but the pests are developing resistance in many parts of North America. The Russian strains are not totally mite resistant, but the parasites’ threat can be tempered so pesticides are needed less often.

Source: Western Producer, October 16, 2003

Smooth move

The USDA-ARS has released two new lines of smooth-root sugar beets that the industry can use to breed commercial varieties. Traditional beet varieties with rough, grooved roots hold dirt when beets are pulled from the ground. Smooth roots could cut the amount of soil that makes it into the processing line, saving millions of dollars per year in cleaning and disposal costs. Sugar beets are grown on 1.2 million acres of U.S. cropland.

Source: USDA ARS, Sept. 23, 2003

A-peeling to health

Orange peels may foster good health. USDA-ARS researchers have demonstrated that oligosaccharides in pectin, found abundantly in orange peels, have probiotic properties. The carbohydrates promote beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, which deters food-borne pathogens and aids digestion. Probiotics are being used in food products and animal feeds. Pectin is used as a gelling agent in preserves and to stabilize dairy products.

Source: USDA ARS, Sept. 12, 2003

New ways for whey

Whey, the watery cheesemaking leftover, could be turned into plastic and food coatings Researchers at the University of California, Davis, department of food science and technology have patented processes to turn whey into oxygen-barrier coatings on food and plastics and into gloss coatings on candy. Until recently, many commercial cheese manufacturers have treated whey as sewage or animal feed. New technologies have expanded whey uses to include ingredients in bakery products, infant formulas and energy bars.

Source: University of California, Davis, Sept. 29, 2003