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NEWS RELEASE

June 2002


AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS

BIOPHARMING CAN ADD VALUE TO MIDWEST AGRICULTURE
It has been the dream of scientists for years to produce high-valued products, such as useful pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals in plants. Producing crops for this purpose--"biopharming" -- may seem futuristic, however, groups of Iowa farmers already grow this type of new generation of biotech crops, says Stephen Howell, director of the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State. "Biopharming is a great opportunity to add significant value to farm production in the Midwest," Howell says, citing predictions that the market for crops producing protein-based biopharmaceuticals will increase from $26 billion in 2000 to $100 billion by 2010. Like plant biotechnology -- which largely grew out of the efforts of basic research in both the public and private sectors -- the development of biopharming requires productive public/private partnerships. "A strong motivation for support of biopharming is the prospect for economic development, but that goal has to stand up to other challenges. The technology must be conducted in ways that are safe, environmentally friendly and consistent with the goals of sustainable agriculture," Howell says. Contact Howell, (515) 294-5267; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

AGRICULTURE HAS POTENTIAL TO HELP REDUCE GREENHOUSE GASES
In the ongoing search for remedies to the planet's greenhouse gas excesses, agriculture is often identified as a key player. Agriculture can reduce its own contributions of these gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and it can act as a carbon "sink," a kind of gas storehouse and converter through its soil, plants, wetlands, and forests. But producers need incentives to change their management practices or to adopt a greenhouse gas mitigation strategy. A resource and environmental economist at Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development has been studying the economic feasibility of these strategies. Using mathematical programming, Uwe Schneider and research partner Bruce McCarl of Texas A&M University examined the economic potential of a variety of greenhouse gas mitigation strategies in U.S. agriculture and forestry. They entered various strategies, such as reduced tillage and production of energy crops, into an agricultural sector model. They then ran a simulation to see how mitigation strategies compete against conventional agricultural production at various "carbon prices" (a fee paid to producers per ton of carbon equivalent stored). The results show that it is economically feasible for U.S. agriculture to contribute to greenhouse gas reduction. However, some strategies are much more viable than others. The right strategy depends on the right carbon price, and different strategies are optimal for different regions of the country. The full report, "The Potential of U.S. Agriculture and Forestry to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emission: An Agricultural Sector Analysis," is available at http://www.card.iastate.edu. Contact Schneider, (515) 294-6173; or Sandy Clarke, CARD Communications, (515) 294-6257.

WOODLAND INVASIVE PLANT SURVEY BEGINS THIS SUMMER
Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are initiating a two-year survey of four invasive plant species in Iowa woodlands and forests. The goal is to map the distribution and severity of the plants in forests in the north central United States and increase public awareness about invasive species. The four species are garlic mustard, Tartarian honeysuckle, common buckthorn and multiflora rose. The survey will be done on private and public land in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and other north central states, using volunteers who will be trained on invasive species identification and data collection methods. Training workshops begin in June in northeast Iowa. Researchers will combine all data collected to produce range and severity maps for each of the four invasive species and develop an invasive species management plan for the region. The public will have access to the survey results through the project's Web site, various published materials and presentations. Contact Paul Wray, Forestry, (515) 294-1168; or Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033.

IOWA'S FIRST PUBLICATIONS ON LARGE-SCALE ORGANIC AG AVAILABLE
Organic agriculture is on the rise in the United States -- and in Iowa. In a 1999 survey by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa farmers reported 150,000 acres of organic cropland, twice the number of organic acres reported in 1998 and a sixfold increase since 1996. Iowa State University Extension has published four new publications on organic farming--the first to be developed for large-scale organic agriculture in Iowa. "Organic agriculture seeks to use production advances that consistently yield benefits -- such as new varieties of crops, precision agriculture technologies and more efficient machinery -- while discarding those methods that have led to negative impacts on society and the environment, such as pesticide pollution and insect pest resistance," says Kathleen Delate, assistant professor and organic crop specialist for horticulture and agronomy. Delate is the primary author of the four new publications:
  • "Organic Agriculture" (PM 1880) focuses on general information for full-scale organic crop production;
  • "Weed Management for Organic Farming" (PM 1881) shares weed management practices, such as crop rotation, propane flame burning and mulching;
  • "Growing Organic Soybeans on CRP land" (PM 1882) provides information concerning the market, land preparation, planting and weed management and harvest and subsequent crops; and
  • "Soil Quality in Organic Agricultural Systems" (PM 1883) covers soil health, relevant field research, organic agriculture philosophies and carbon sequestration.
The series is available on the ISU Extension Web site at http://www.extension.iastate.edu, or ordered through ISU Extension county offices. Contact Delate, (515) 294-7069; or Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033.

PRACTICAL FARMERS OF IOWA INVITE YOU TO A PICNIC WITH A PURPOSE
Think of it as a picnic with a purpose. That's how the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) hope visitors will view the 13 field and community days to be held this summer. The on-farm demonstrations will be held throughout the state from June 15 through mid-September. Producers and other resource people at the sites will be able to answer questions about pigs in hoop houses, weeds, alternative crops, organic farming and other premium markets. PFI on-farm research and demonstrations are funded in part by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Iowa State University. For more information, go to the calendar of events on the PFI Web page. Contact Rick Exner, Farming Systems Coordinator, (515) 294-5486; or Barb McManus, Ag Communications Service, (515) 294-0707.

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