Iowa State University

News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777


Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine News

ISU Air Emissions Lab has preliminary data from first study

The first research conducted in Iowa State University's new Air Emissions Laboratory indicates that adding supplemental amino acids to swine diets could decrease ammonia emissions by as much as 45 percent. The study looked at feeding reduced crude protein diets to grow finish swine.

The typical industry diet contains only the amino acid lysine. But ISU researchers found that adding other supplemental amino acids -- methionine, threonine, tryptophan and valine or isoleucine, in addition to lysine -- cut ammonia emissions by 45 percent. Including only lysine, methionine and threonine as supplemental amino acids could reduce the ammonia emissions by 20 percent.

The reduced crude protein diets did not have an impact on weight gain or feed intake of the pigs. In spring 2006, a new swine study will look at feeding corn co-products and air emissions. The Air Emissions Laboratory, which opened in September 2004, is used primarily to study the effect of diet on air emissions.

Results of work could lead to new dietary recommendations for livestock producers that will improve air quality both inside and outside of production buildings. More information is online at Contact Wendy Powers, Animal Science, (515) 294-1635; or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.

ISU agronomists research growing transgenic and conventional crops side by side

Iowa State agronomy researchers are looking for reliable ways to successfully grow transgenic and conventional or organic crops side by side. The researchers -- Mark Westgate, professor; Ray Arritt, professor; and Susana Goggi, associate professor -- conducted research on pollen production, created models of pollen production and movement and studied the effective rates of pollination from neighboring fields. They generated methods to predict the rate of pollen production from simple measurements of tassel development and determined how quickly corn pollen loses its capacity while it travels in the air.

"The model allows us to follow pollen movement over a wide range of fields, atmospheric conditions and through or around windbreaks," Westgate said. "It also allows us to consider the effects of border rows. It works well for predicting pollen deposition at 200 to 600 feet from a source field."

Additional study is needed for longer distances. Westgate, Arritt and Goggi are using their findings to develop a modeling software package that will provide a new management tool for producers concerned about pollen drift. It also will help growers predict the risk of outcrossing prior to harvest. The project was supported through grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ISU's Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products (BIGMAP). Contact Westgate, (515) 294-9654; Arritt (515) 294-9870; Goggi, (515) 294-6372; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Lessons of French agriculture inform economist's work at CARD

Though most Iowa agriculture can still be characterized as commodity corn and soybean production, a few producers hope to find new ways to market or differentiate their products on store shelves. The economics of those strategies is scrutinized in research by Stephan Marette, an economist with the National Institute for Agricultural Research, Paris, who is a visiting scholar at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State.

In a study described in a recent paper, Marette looks at whether collective brands, used by producers, retailers or professional groups, can increase profits. He cites examples from French agriculture, including the egg market. Households in France pay higher prices for eggs with common labels than for eggs without labels.

A problem in France, though, is the proliferation of labels, which may confuse the consumer and diminish profits. The French wine industry, for example, has 450 regional appellations, or labels based upon the region of production, which has rendered the labels meaningless and ultimately hurt the industry's market share.

Marette says producers in Iowa can learn from European examples because many European countries have a long history of producer-owned marketing programs. The paper, "The Collective-Quality Promotion in the Agribusiness Sector: An Overview," is available at Contact Marette, (515) 294-8911; or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, (515) 294-6257.

USDA funds ISU research on salmonella contamination in pre-harvested swine

Researchers at Iowa State University's veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine department continue to study ways to control salmonella contamination in pre-harvested swine. Previous findings showed pigs tested at slaughter had a higher prevalence of salmonella than pigs tested on the farm. A new $980,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will enable the scientists to measure the association between the farm, the lot and the lairage and carcass/product salmonella contamination.

Annette O'Connor, assistant professor, leads the three-year study, which includes Dr. James McKean, University Professor, and Dr. Scott Hurd, associate professor. They will use standard cultures and a sophisticated DNA fingerprinting technology -- pulse-field gel electrophoresis -- to determine relative contributions to contamination from individual production lots, farms and lairage environments (places where livestock are kept temporarily).

This project will provide concrete information to fine tune risk assessment models that assist science-based policy implementation, O'Connor said. "We want to provide science-based information to pork producers and related industries that enables practical decision making to reduce salmonella contamination of pork carcasses and meat products," she said. Contact O'Connor, (515) 294-5012; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Biosafe greenhouse to open at Iowa State

Iowa State's first high containment plant-growth facility will be officially unveiled Oct. 19 when the ribbon is cut on the addition to the Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory. The Plant Sciences Institute facility will be used for experimental plants that require containment, such as those engineered to enhance nutrition or to withstand environmental stress. The $2 million, 4,200 square-foot building has two levels.

The greenhouse is a Biosafety Plant Level 2+ facility, designed to keep pollen from transgenic plants from being released to the outside environment. Several features, which differ from standard greenhouse design, will ensure the containment. These include special filters on the exhaust air system; collection and treatment of runoff from water used inside the greenhouse; tempered safety-glass on all windows; and inoperable windows. In addition, high-tech devices will control the environment, including computer-controlled automatic shades, an evaporation cooling system and extensive supplemental lighting that extend the day length.

Following a "shakedown" period to test the building's systems, research plants -- mostly corn, soybeans, rice and Arabidopsis -- will move in to the new space. Contact Stephen Howell, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-5267; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Science with practice -- ISU ag students learn while working

This fall marks the second semester of a new program within the ISU College of Agriculture that gives students a chance to learn while working. Last spring, 15 students participated in the pilot phase of the "Science with Practice" (SWP) program. There are nearly 20 student/faculty mentor teams this fall. The program provides opportunities for students in agriculture to work with faculty and staff in research labs, teaching and research farms, greenhouses and other units.

The students are paid, and can earn academic credit if they complete requirements in five areas -- participation and communication, journal of activities, final report, a 20-minute presentation and development of a comprehensive portfolio. Both mentor and student participants surveyed last spring said they saw student improvement in communication, time management, responsibility, organization, self-confidence, listening skills and research skills.

Funding for the program comes from the ISU Agricultural Endowment Board, the College of Agriculture and participating departments. Contact Mike Retallick, SWP and Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-4810; Charles Steiner, SWP and Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-0047; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0705.

(Note to editors: Four student/faculty mentor teams in the SWP program have agreed to be contacted by reporters: Angela Chandler, Equine Facilities manager, (515) 290-7669, and Lindsay Rueckert, animal science major, (319) 330-7931; Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496, and Betsy Hertz, ag education-communication major, (515) 572-0731; Paula Teig, agricultural education and studies, (515) 294-8363, and Melissa Naser, ag education certification major, (515) 450-9321; Greg Vogel, Ag 450 Farm manager, (515) 292-0742, and Jim Wallace, agricultural studies major, (515) 290-6811.)


Quick look

  • ISU Air Emissions Lab has preliminary data from first study
  • ISU agronomists research growing transgenic and conventional crops side by side
  • Lessons of French agriculture inform economist's work at CARD
  • USDA funds ISU research on salmonella contamination in pre-harvested swine
  • Biosafe greenhouse to open at Iowa State
  • Science with practice -- ISU ag students learn while working