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Elsewhere in ag utilization

Antlers in demand

Alberta rancher Don Bamber has built a second plant on his elk ranch to process antler powder into health products. Demand for his elk-antler powder, sold in bulk or capsules, has been growing. He bottles and packages elk-antler powder for 97 companies. Besides human consumption, new markets are developing for horses and pets.

Source: The Furrow, Spring 2002

Life after latex

Guayule, a shrub found in southwestern United States, yields high quality, hypoallergenic latex. The latex extraction process, however, yields huge amounts of ground stems and leaves in a brownish-white slurry called bagasse.

USDA-ARS and Forest Service scientists have found that composite particleboard from bagasse and recycled plastic resists attack by termites and wood-rot microbes. In addition, guayule resin, when properly incorporated into wood, may be an effective natural preservative for wooden buildings, boats, decks and outdoor furniture.

Source: Agricultural Research, April 2002. Contact: Francis S. Nakayama, USDA-ARS, Phoenix, AZ, (602) 437-1702, Ext. 255,

Rice straw packs

Environmentally friendly packaging can be made in part from rice or wheat straw. ARS scientists are working with Regale Corporation in Napa, Calif. to discover ways to reduce processing cost s.

The molded polystyrene forms that hold electronic components snugly in their shipping cartons, for example, could be replaced with biodegradable inserts made partly from straw fiber.

Source: USDA-ARS, William Orts, Albany, CA, (510) 559-5730,

Edible wraps win award

Edible fruit- and vegetable-based food wraps have garnered a national award for ARS food scientist Tara H. McHugh. Popular Science magazine chose McHugh’s work as one of the magazine’s 100 “Best of What’s New” awards for 2001.

Source: Popular Science, December 2001.

Bargain biodiesel

ARS scientists have developed biodiesel from soy soapstock, an abundant but under-utilized byproduct of soy oil refining. Their patented process uses low-value, less-pure lipids, which can cost as little as one-tenth the price of refined vegetable oils.

The new biodiesel’s composition, engine performance and emissions are comparable to the biodiesel from refined soy oil now on the market.

Source: Agricultural Research, April 2002.

Zeroing in on zein

ARS researchers have developed a cheaper process to extract zein, a valuable protein, from corn. Zein, extracted from corn gluten, sells for about $10 a pound.

Zein is also found in dried distillers grain, a byproduct of the dry-milling ethanol process that is often sold as a feed supplement. The researchers have made zein affordable by using ethanol as a solvent to extract zein from dry-milled corn.

Source: Leland C. Dickey, USDA-ARS, Wyndmoor, PA, (215) 233-6406,

Cotton pellets

A new process developed by ARS scientists forms cotton processing waste into pellets. Tests are underway using the pellets for heat stoves, mulch, fertilizer and animal feed.

Source: Gregory Holt, USDA-ARS, Lubbock, TX, (806) 746-5353, ext. 226.

Bean’s at home here

Visitors to the 2002 Farm Science Review in London, Ohio, to be held September 17-19, will have a chance to view the “House that Soy Built.” The exhibit, first established in 2000, showcases the many uses of soy-based products.

For 2002, a kitchen has been added to the living room and bathroom currently on display. Soy products range from carpet backing, paints, cleaners, Environ biocomposite countertops and cabinetry to adhesives, posters, insulation and bath and body care products. The kitchen will also feature soy cooking techniques.

Source: AgriMarketing, March 2002.

Georgia goats

A new generation co-op, Sunbelt Goat Meat Cooperative, was formed as a result of a feasibility study conducted by Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. The study showed a 450 to 600 head-per-week processing plant would have an economic impact of $2.6 to $6.3 million annually. The co-op has 180 members in 71 of Georgia’s counties.

Source: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, (706) 542-0760,

Get the folks to the farm

A phone survey of 400 Georgians shows that some 60 percent are interested in participating in agri-tourism activities. It further showed the necessity for creating an entire package of events, such as pick-your-own produce, hayrides, and paint-your-own pumpkin.

Source: Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Georgia, (706) 542-0760,

Corn fuels corn

To reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is trying to convert discarded corn into usable energy. In a joint effort with Iowa State University and Carbon Energy Technology, Inc., Pioneer is testing a process to convert unwanted seed corn into fuel to dry new seed corn. This could reduce the company’s dependence on natural gas and utilize seed that would otherwise be discarded.

Source: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Courtney Chabot Dryer, (515) 334-4663,

Broccoli on guard

Broccoli stores selenium in a useful form that is easily converted into an active anti-cancer agent. Tests on mice fed experimental high-selenium broccoli showed it protected them against precancerous lesions in the colon and mammary tumors. Further study is needed to see if this proves true in humans.

Source: John W. Finley, Grand Forks, ND, (701) 795-8366,

The foaming soys

A bio-based spray foam insulation made from SoyOyl, a soy-based polyol, was recently introduced by Urethane Soy Systems Co. of Princeton, Ill. The company developed the insulation for use in residential and commercial buildings.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, February 8, 2002.

The U’s have it

Researchers from Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Missouri and Iowa State University are collaborating on a project to develop bio-based industrial materials using soy oil. The regional project is funded through a $1.5 million USDA Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems grant. Products that will be tested include airplane deicers, polyurethane foams and heating fuel.

Source: Steve St. Martin, Ohio State University, 614-292-8499,

Hay, rabbits …

Nebraska hay grower John Miller has found a profitable niche in pet foods. His Oxbow Hay Company offers alfalfa, timothy, bromegrass, orchard grass, and oat hay in 15-ounce plastic bags for pet rabbits and other small herbivores. At nearly $4 per bag, he grosses more than $8,000 per ton.

Source: The Furrow, February 2002.

Off-road e-test

A two-year test program on ethanol-blended diesel has been launched by John Deere, the National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, and corn growers from six states.

The project will use John Deere off-road equipment and evaluate the blend for engine durability and compatibility, emissions and safety.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, March 1, 2002.

Organics face new rules

The U.S. market for organic products has increased at least 20 percent within the past decade; economists say the trend will continue. After October 2002, all products sold as organic must be certified according to USDA National Organic Standards.

Source: Candace Pollock, Ohio State University Extension, (614) 292-3799.