Iowa State University

News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777


Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine News

Double-crop field peas: Iowa's third crop?

Field peas could be the alternative third crop that Iowa producers have been searching for. As part of a special Ecology Initiative project of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, ISU Extension's crop specialist Jim Fawcett and swine specialist Tom Miller are studying the economic feasibility of growing field peas in southeast Iowa for swine rations. Peas can be fed directly on the farm, without processing. They also are a short season crop, offering the opportunity of double-cropping, thus increasing potential profits. Yields from a 75-acre field of spring-planted peas in Louisa County ranged from 30 to 55 bushels/acre. The harvested peas were used in a large-scale swine feeding trial in Washington County. Soybeans were planted after the pea harvest on July 1, yielding 26 bushels/acre in mid-October. The project includes winter peas followed by soybean, and spring peas planted after wheat. Fawcett and Miller are working with three farmers and on plots at the ISU Crawfordsville Research Farm. They recently received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to complement their three-year Leopold Center grant. Contact Fawcett, (319) 337-2145; Miller, (319) 653-4811; Jeri Neal, Leopold Center Ecology Initiative, (515) 294-5610; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center communications, (515) 294-5272.

ISU economists calculate potential for Group Risk Income Protection

The USDA's Risk Management Agency has greatly expanded availability of Group Risk Income Protection (GRIP) for 2006. GRIP is a revenue-based crop insurance plan that makes indemnity payments only when the average county revenue for the insured crop falls below the revenue chosen by the farmer (between 90 and 150 percent of expected county revenue). Covered crops now include corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and cotton in most major production regions. With this expanded coverage, many farmers and their insurance agents are considering whether GRIP would be a good choice for coverage in 2006 and beyond.

Economists at ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) calculated what GRIP would have cost and what it would have paid out had it been available from 1980 through 2004 for Iowa corn (in Poweshiek County), North Dakota wheat and Texas cotton. They also calculated how it would have performed against other revenue insurance plans. According to the calculations, Poweshiek County corn producers would have received $17 more per acre in net indemnities for GRIP than for Revenue Assurance over the historical period. Losses on corn in Iowa tend to be driven primarily by systemic factors, such as widespread drought or excess rainfall, so farm yields and county yields are usually highly correlated. GRIP therefore may provide good risk management benefits for Iowa corn producers. For more information, see "When Is GRIP the Right Choice for Crop Insurance?" in the winter 2006 issue of "Iowa Ag Review" at Contact Chad Hart, (515) 294-9911, or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, (515) 294-6257.

ISU veterinary medicine faculty study new BVDV diagnostic approach

Researchers at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are conducting a study that could help determine the prevalence of BVDV and evaluate a new diagnostic screening approach. BVDV -- bovine viral diarrhea virus -- is a contagious viral disease that causes abortion, weak calves and respiratory disease. "We don't know how common it is in Iowa, but we estimate that five to 10 percent of herds are infected," says Dr. Annette O'Connor, assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine. She and colleagues at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are assessing a diagnostic approach used in Colorado. Compared to current tests, the RT-PCR technology is a less expensive way to screen herds. "Now it costs $3 to $6 per cow to test. If this approach proves effective and accurate, it would cost less than $1 per animal," O'Connor said. The RT-PCR tests for BVDV in pooled samples. If it detects the virus in a pooled sample, the individual animal tubes are then tested to identify the positive sample. Once identified, the animal is traced back to the farm and re-tested to ensure it is positive. The researchers are working with local veterinarians and have enrolled about 150 Iowa-based cow-calf herds. If interested in learning more about the project, contact O' Connor at (515) 294-5012, or Dr. Steve Sorden at (515) 294-1128. The Voluntary Iowa BVDV Screening Project is funded by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Contact O'Connor, (515) 294-5012; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Explore wine industry opportunities with Ag Marketing Resource Center materials

Growing grapes and making wine is one of agriculture's oldest and most romantic industries. Although success requires persistence, patience, passion and money, the wine industry is enjoying a resurgence of interest. The Iowa State University Extension Value Added Agriculture Program (VAAP) collected data from the Alcoholic Beverages Division of the State of Iowa that shows the growth in Iowa. The number of licensed native wineries increased from 13 in July 2001 to 55 as of December 2005. Annual wine production increased from 51,500 gallons in June 2002 to 133,728 gallons in December 2005.

Potential grape and wine producers can explore opportunities within the wine industry, the science of viticulture that lies behind a good bottle of wine and learn how to develop a marketing strategy to promote a wine product in a video series developed by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) and the ISU Extension VAAP. "The Total Wine Package" was recently updated to include frequently asked questions on some of the more technical aspects

of wine-making and grape production. VAAP staff also created several Microsoft Excel workbooks that allow producers to input their own numbers and determine profits and loss.

The video and workbooks were developed with partial funding from the Leopold Center

for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, and are available online at Contact Mary

Holz-Clause, AgMRC, (515) 294-0648; Craig Tordsen, VAAP, (515) 294-1938; or Christa Hartsook, AgMRC communications, (515) 294-4430.

New ruminant specialist at ISU's veterinary medicine college

Iowa beef producers and practitioners have a new resource available in ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Suelee Robbe-Austerman has joined the faculty in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine. She will be involved in teaching beef and small ruminant production medicine courses. Robbe-Austerman previously was a veterinary medical officer at the U. S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center in Ames where she worked on Johne's disease research in sheep, beef cattle and dairy. From 1998 to 2002, she was adjunct instructor in production animal medicine at ISU. After graduating in 1993 from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, she was a food animal practitioner in South Dakota. "Dr. Robbe-Austerman has extensive knowledge and practical experience in cow-calf production medicine," said Dr. Patrick Halbur, interim chair of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine. In addition to teaching, Robbe-Austerman will research production diseases and characterize new diagnostic tests for Johne's disease. She wants to evaluate and develop tools that veterinary practitioners can use to diagnose production and profitability problems for their clients. Contact Halbur, (515) 294-1950; Robbe-Austerman, (515) 294-2192; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.


Quick look

  • Double-crop field peas: Iowa's third crop?
  • ISU economists calculate potential for Group Risk Income Protection
  • ISU veterinary medicine faculty study new BVDV diagnostic approach
  • Explore wine industry opportunities with Ag Marketing Resource Center materials
  • New ruminant specialist at ISU's veterinary medicine college