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NEWS RELEASE

July 2001


AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

ATMOSPHERIC SEESAW CAN LEAVE MIDWEST HIGH AND DRY
When it comes to rainfall, is the Southwest's gain the Great Plains' loss? Raymond Arritt, a climatologist in Iowa State's agronomy department, recently spoke to weather researchers at a meeting in Arizona that examined the effects of the summertime monsoon over the southwestern United States and western Mexico "The summertime atmosphere over the U.S. behaves like a seesaw," Arritt said. "When the monsoon pushes air upward in the Southwest, the air is pushed down over the Plains, and vice-versa." One example is the summer of 1993. While the Midwest suffered flooding, the Southwest had a serious drought. Researchers think these links between different regions could provide information that would help forecast growing-season rainfall further in advance than now possible. Arritt and colleagues at ISU have received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct computer-modeling studies of the monsoon. Contact Arritt, (515) 294-9870, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0706.


RESEARCH COULD CREATE SAFER SANDWICHES
Research by an Iowa State meat scientist could help processors better protect ready-to-eat meats from contamination by a potentially deadly bacterium. Joseph Sebranek is studying how well different anti-microbial ingredients protect processed meats like luncheon meats from Listeria monocytogenes. The organism causes Listeriosis, which can lead to meningitis and can be deadly for 20 to 40 percent of those infected. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people prone to infections are most susceptible to listeriosis, says Sebranek, professor of animal science and food science. Because Listeria is easily killed during cooking, contamination occurs in processed meats that are eaten cold. "Listeria is widespread in the environment and has been extremely difficult to eliminate from food processing plants, although great progress has been made in the past decade," he said. "Contamination usually occurs after the meat is cooked and before it's packaged." Sebranek tested chemical preservatives applied as surface treatments to the meat. Preliminary results indicate that sodium diacetate is effective. The USDA-approved ingredient is commonly used to prevent spoilage bacteria, Sebranek said. He is completing statistical analysis of the laboratory tests, which involved hundreds of combinations of treatment ingredients and storage temperatures in meat inoculated with Listeria. A final report, including a risk assessment of different treatments and storage temperatures, will be released this fall. Contact Sebranek, (515) 294-1091, before July 14 or after Aug. 1; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778, after July 27.


IS IT TIME FOR CONSERVATION PAYMENTS?
As Congress rewrites farm legislation, many are pushing for a new partnership between farmers and taxpayers. In exchange for conservation payments, farmers would do much more to enhance environmental quality. With increasing public demand for clear air and clean water, there is growing justification for tying federal farm income support to increased conservation, according to a report prepared by Iowa State's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and economics department. Experience with past conservation programs has shown that farmers are willing to participate if the payments are large relative to the costs of compliance. New, highly funded conservation payment programs for agriculture could achieve both the current income support objective of farm programs as well as environmental objectives, as long as programs target environmental benefits rather than income support to low-income producers. Setting aside land is the most costly way of obtaining environmental benefits, according to the report. It is more efficient to encourage productive use of land rather than to retire land. The report, "Conservation Payments: Challenges in Design and Implementation," is available at http://www.card.iastate.edu. Contact Bruce Babcock, CARD, (515) 294-6785, or Sandy Clarke, (515) 294-6257, CARD communications.


HAVE BUCKET, WILL DO DEEP PIT MANURE SAMPLING
As part of a swine manure management study conducted at 20 Iowa locations, researchers found less variability in nutrient content of deep pit manure than expected. Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Greg Brenneman led the study, in which five samples were taken from each pit. A profile which provides information from different levels of the pit and a surface sample were taken prior to land application and three samples were collected while the pit was being pumped. Brenneman said that before this study, it was assumed that a profile sample was the superior way to collect a sample. Results changed that thinking. "Samples were analyzed at a commercial lab and results showed there is less variability in the nutrient content of manure in deep pit barns than was previously thought," Brenneman said. "Since most producers are applying swine manure based on its nitrogen content and the surface sample is a better predictor of nitrogen content, they should use this sampling technique that requires only a plastic pail." Contact Brenneman, Johnson County Extension, (319) 337-2145, or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center communications, (515) 294-4496.


IPIC OFFERS SCANNING AT COUNTY FAIRS IN IOWA
Three Iowa State animal science students who work with assistant professor Tom Baas at the Iowa Pork Industry Center are providing scanning services at 19 Iowa county fairs this summer. Their season began July 5 at the Lee and Jefferson County fairs, and will conclude Aug. 2 in Kossuth County. Jay Lampe, Colin Johnson and Doug Newcom are all nationally certified ultrasound technicians who will collectively travel hundreds of miles over the next few weeks to provide this service. Last year, the trio worked at 12 counties and scanned an estimated 1,300 hogs. Contact Baas, (515) 294-6728, or Sherry Hoyer, IPIC communications, (515) 294-4496.


CHICKENS IN THE PASTURE AND IN THE GARDEN AT ISU FIELD DAYS
Chickens will be in the spotlight at field days that begin Aug. 2 at Iowa State University's Research and Demonstration Farms. The field days feature the farms' home demonstration gardens and projects of interest to those living on acreages. Each field day will include "range-raised" broilers housed in pens that are moved to fresh pasture areas by tractors. To complement this event, each home demonstration garden features at least six different chicken-themed plants. The gardens also contain several varieties of compact vine crops, cantaloupe, watermelon, squash, cucumber and pumpkin. Different plastic mulches are being compared for growing tomatoes. Ornamental plants noted for colorful foliage can be viewed. The schedule for the field days is: Aug. 2, 6:30 p.m., Southeast Farm near Crawfordsville; Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m., Rhodes Farm near Rhodes; Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m., Muscatine Island Farm, Fruitland: Aug 8, 6:30 p.m., Northwest Farm near Sutherland; Aug. 18, 4 p.m., Northeast Farm near Nashua; Aug. 22, 6:30 p.m., Armstrong Farm near Lewis; Aug. 23, 6:30 p.m., Western Farm near Castana; and Aug. 25, 4 p.m., Northern Farm near Kanawha. Contact Cynthia Haynes, Horticulture, (515) 294-4006, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-2314.


PROGRESS OF EXPERIMENTS AT ISU RESEARCH FARMS NOW ON WEB
Want a recommendation for planting high-yielding asparagus? Curious about the cost of raising pigs in hoop buildings? Check out the progress reports on experiments conducted last year on Iowa State University's Research and Demonstration Farms. The reports, which are brief and written for a general audience, are on the Web at http://www.ag.iastate.edu/farms/reports.html. Dozens of reports on crop and livestock research studies are listed by farm. Clicking on the title of a report will download a PDF that can be viewed onscreen or printed. Copies of annual reports also are available at each farm, or by contacting the campus office, (515) 294-4620. Contact Mark Honeyman, Research and Demonstration Farms, (515) 294-4621, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-2314.



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