–by Ashley Harguth
cartoons by Uncle Hyggly
Editor’s note: As a service to our readers, we provide news about the work of others in ag utilization. Often, research done elsewhere complements AURI’s work.

Eco-based fire logs

Grass clippings from mowing lawns often end up in landfills but the ARS is working on mixing these clippings with other natural compounds to create eco-friendly fire logs that burn evenly and brightly. These eco-logs contain no petroleum-based chemicals, unlike many burning products, which mean they burn cleaner. The logs can be made up of anywhere from 20 to 60 percent clippings and the rest is known as binders or plant-derived waxes or oils. These logs can also be made from corncobs or other agricultural-harvest leftovers and the formula of the logs can be used to produce pellets for a stove.

USDA-ARS
Nov/Dec 2012

Color changing potatoes

Carotenoids are great for eye health and the USDA is working to create more food options that contain carotenoids. Through breeding cultivated white potatoes with wild potatoes that have a rich yellow flesh they have created potatoes with carotenoid levels more than 15 times the level of the popular Yukon Gold potato.

Science Daily
October 24, 2012

Extreme soy

Paintball, a popular pastime, is a billion-dollar industry that has started to make their products more environmentally friendly. Some companies have started replacing the polyethylene glycol with U.S. soy oil in the paintballs. By making this change, the balls are safer to use around wildlife and water, lowering the sport’s environmental impact.

United Soybean
October 20, 2012

Rolling along on soy

Tractors are full of soy; from biodiesel fuel to soy-plastic body panels. Now tractors are driving on soy-based tires. Bridgestone recently announced it is testing a tire for tractors that contains 10 percent soybean oil. The tires could hit the market early next year and each 900 pound tire contains about 90 pounds of oil from about eight bushels of soybeans

United Soybean
October 20, 2012

Creating safer spinach

Scientists at the University of Illinois are combining continuous ultrasound treatment with chlorine washing to boost current industry standards by reducing the total number of E. coli bacteria by over 99 percent on spinach leaves. The scientists have used the technique on iceberg and romaine lettuce as well as spinach with similar results.

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science
November 27, 2012

Nike’s green shoe

Nike recently released a new soccer shoe, made from Pearlthane ECO’s thermoplastic polyurethanes. According to a spokesperson this shoe provides an alternative to 100-percent petroleum-based materials without compromising performance properties. In addition, the new shoes are 15 percent lighter than traditional shoes.

Waste and Recycling News
October 31, 2012

The Wheat Genome Map

Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service are part of an international team that have completed wheat genome sequencing. This sequencing could speed up the development of new wheat varieties, which in turn is expected to increase wheat yields and create enhanced nutritional value. USDA scientists have also completed similar studies on dairy cattle, tomatoes, corn and soybeans.

USDA ARS
November 28, 2012