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.

Cash pumps into biofuels

The USDA announced a two-year, $300 million program to increase production of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Under the program, the Commodity Credit Corporation will pay cash incentives to bioenergy producers who increase their purchases of eligible commodities such as corn and convert them to biofuels. The new program could help as many as 58 facilities in 18 states.

Source: www.ncga.com

Back in Kansas …

Kansas has a new center to help smaller farms add income sources. The Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, established by the Kansas legislature, targets operations whose gross income per year is less than $250,000. The Center also provides research and market development information for new crop opportunities.

Source: For more information call (785) 532-7419 or visit www.oznet.ksu.edu/kcsaac.

Turning back the clock

The National Institutes of Health will invest $7.8 million over five years in the Botanical Center for Age-Related Diseases, led by Purdue University with collaboration from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

The funds will help the Center test ag products for health benefits. One project tests soy products for the ability to replace estrogen and protect against bone loss in post-menopausal women, another studies compounds in green tea for their ability to inhibit tumor growth. Additionally, grape and berry products will be studied for their ability to protect against the oxidative stress damage that leads to cognitive loss during aging.

Source: Purdue University, (765) 494-2096, writer Jeanne Norberg, e-mail: jnorberg@uns.purdue.edu

Full of beans

Old folks fare better if they’re full of beans — soybeans, that is. Nutrition researchers from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale found when they used soy products in meals that nursing home residents were already eating, the residents’ protein intake increased nearly 20 percent, even though they didn’t eat more food.

Insufficient protein leads to loss of lean muscle mass and immune system problems. Recognizing soy’s health benefits, the Illinois Department of Public Health has revised its guidelines for long-term care facilities to allow the addition of soy foods as a major source of dietary protein.

Source: Jeanette M. Endres, www.siu.edu/~endres.

Berry high returns

According to agricultural economist with Ohio State Extension, black raspberries in Ohio generate an annual return of $1,575 per acre from pick-your-own operations and $1,063 per acre from pre-picked retail. Strawberries earn $495 per “pick-your-own” acre and $150 prepicked. In comparison, no-till corn averages only $13 per acre of annual profit and no-till soybeans $16 per acre.

Source: Sandy Kuhn, Berry Coordinator, Centers at Piketon at (800) 297-2072, e-mail: kuhn.37@osu.edu.

Squeezing more from livestock

As profits are being squeezed for producers of traditional livestock in Iowa, some entrepreneurs are turning to alternative livestock, according to the 2000 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

Among some 3,000 farm operators who responded to this year’s poll, the largest alternative livestock enterprise is aquaculture, reported by 113 farmers. Other species with significant numbers include pheasants, quail and goats. Between 10 to 15 farmers produce buffalo, fallow deer, fox, mink, llamas or snapping turtles, and fewer than 10 are raising elk, emu, ostrich or rheas. More than 20 percent of respondents expressed an interest in raising pheasant, quail or fish.

Source: Extension Distribution Center, (515) 294-5247, e-mail: pubdist@iastate.edu, or Paul Lasley, Iowa State University, Extension Sociology, e-mail: plasley@iastate.edu.

American-Japanese pig

A Nebraska pork producer raises Berkshire pigs for the Japanese market, which prefers hogs with dark, marbled pork. He earns $9.50 per hundredweight above the base price for his pigs.

Source: Al Prosch, Coordinator, Pork Central, 1-800-767-5287, www.unl.edu/porkctr.

‘Bran’ new partners

ADM and the National Corn Growers Association have formed a two-year research partnership to expand corn markets. The goal is to create a commercial manufacturing process to convert corn fiber or bran into higher-value products, including chemical feedstocks and ethanol.

Today fiber separated from the corn kernel during wet milling is a low-value byproduct known as corn gluten feed. Tomorrow, it might be antifreeze or cosmetics. The proposed market could ultimately be valued at $5 billion.

Source: Doane’s Agricultural Report, September 22, 2000.

Don’t inhale — filter first

A biofilter material made of wood chips, horse manure, sawdust, straw and cornstalks controls odors from exhaust fans in a college farrowing facility. The odor from the biofilter is similar to that of soil after a rain, says livestock field specialist Terry Steinhart of KirkWood Swine Facility at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Source: Terry Steinhart, Keokuk county Extension 515-622-2680, e-mail: tsteinha@iastate.edu.

Egg-stra co-op value

Golden Oval Eggs is shipping tanker trucks of liquid eggs to fast food restaurants, the baking industry and companies that make processed egg products for grocery stores. The ninth barn of a planned 2.7 million-bird egg plant is scheduled to be completed in late 2001.

Golden Oval is a closed co-op formed in Renville, Minn. in 1991. It held a stock offering in Iowa last year, expanding the co-op by about 250 members.

Source: Successful Farming, Sept.2000

Shrimp in the desert

A shrimp farm has been built in the middle of the desert near Gila Bend, Arizona. Desert Sweet Shrimp, LLC, is an outgrowth of Wood Brothers Farm, which has produced irrigated cotton, olives, wheat and other crops on 1,000-plus acres for more than 50 years. Now the farm is irrigating cropland with shrimp effluent containing about 25 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre-foot of water. That’s free fertilizer for the crops, and shrimp do better in well water than ocean water, according to The Furrow magazine.

Source: The Furrow.

Something to croak about

Bullfrog farming is growing by leaps and bounds. Brazil and Taiwan are the world’s leading producers, but large farms have been established in Mexico, Central America and Ecuador. The back legs, which make up about 50 percent of a mature frog’s weight, are marketed for human consumption. Skin is used to make shoes, purses, belts and wallets.

Source: The Furrow.