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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, manager,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources news from Iowa State University

September 2004

REPLANTED CORN REQUIRES CAUTION AT HARVEST

Heavy rains and extensive flooding in Iowa this spring forced many farmers to replant an estimated eight percent of the state's corn acres. Because much replanting occurred after mid-June, producers had to switch to earlier maturing corn hybrids, rather than plant the variety used the first time around. Harvesting corn varieties with varying maturities requires special attention to detail with proper blending procedures used during harvest. Moisture levels of corn going into on-farm storage structures must be monitored, especially if there are differing maturities in the same bin. Producers should never blend across crop years. And corn that will be fed to livestock needs a more careful examination because spoilage can occur. Contact Charles Hurburgh, agricultural and biosystems engineering and Iowa Grain Quality Initiative, 515-294-8629; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications Service, 515-294-0705.

MATRIC EXAMINES IMPLICATIONS OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS FOR U.S. AGRICULTURE

What would happen if American companies lost the ability to call their homegrown sparkling wine "champagne," or their crumbly and salty curd cheese "feta"? If a current proposal by the European Union through the World Trade Organization (WTO) is passed, then Champagne would become a geographical indication (GI), and the name could only be used for bubbly that comes from the Champagne region of France. Likewise, cheese called Feta would have to come from the sheep or goats of Greece and not from the cows of Wisconsin. With the threat of losses to U.S. companies, U.S. trade negotiators have opposed the proposal from the start. But could GIs be used to protect high-value, uniquely American products in world markets? A briefing paper published by the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center describes and contrasts three systems of protecting property rights for agricultural products: certification marks, E.U.-wide GIs, and WTO GIs. The paper discusses some of the benefits and problems of each system and its effectiveness in helping to differentiate and protect high-value U.S. agricultural products. The paper, "Geographical Indications and Property Rights: Protecting Value-Added Agricultural Products," is available at http://www.matric.iastate.edu/. Contact Roxanne Clemens, MATRIC, 515-294-8842; or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, 515-294-6257.

STANDARDIZED REGULATIONS BENEFIT IOWA ORGANIC PRODUCERS

Results of a recent survey undertaken by Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture show that the two-year-old National Organic Program (NOP) has helped Iowa organic producers by standardizing organic regulations, possibly making it easier to find organic grains for livestock and for new farmers to enter organic production. Regulations for the USDA's NOP took effect Oct. 21, 2002. Iowa's 400 certified organic farmers were surveyed in late 2003 to see what effect, if any, the new program had on their operations. The survey resulted in 120 responses.

When asked about their biggest challenges, 37 percent indicated "finding a market which will pay value-added costs of organic products" and 31.5 percent indicated "growing enough product to meet demand for organic products." The average farm size among the response group was 775 acres, although 51 percent farmed 200 acres or less. Nearly 40 percent said they plan to increase their organic acres. Kathleen Delate, organic crops specialist and associate professor of agronomy and horticulture, directed the survey project. It was funded by the Leopold Center as part of its policy initiative. Contact Delate 515-294-7069; Michael Duffy, Leopold Center, 515-294-6160; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center communications, 515-294-5272.

STUDENTS MAKE GRAVY WITHOUT GRAVITY

Chipman and Gettler

David Chipman (left) and Jonathan Gettler. (Click on photo to download image.)

Tomorrow's space pioneers won't have gravity to help process crops into foods. Not a problem, says a team of Iowa State University students. They're proving it's possible to turn soybeans into soy foods without the pull of gravity. The students designed and built a prototype food blender for space and tested it in microgravity through NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. It's the first test of a food technology in the 45 years of the program that annually enables about 70 college teams to design, fabricate and evaluate reduced-gravity experiments.

Soybeans, which can be processed into a variety of food products, are already grown on space stations and shuttle missions. However, no one had studied how soybeans behave in microgravity during transformation from a solid to a semi-fluid state, said David Chipman, a biology major who developed the blender with five engineering students. The students spent about 11 months and $1,500 designing and building their device, which is about the size of two microwaves. They tested it in reduced-gravity created for research experiments by a special NASA aircraft. Unlike earthbound blenders, the students' device doesn't depend on gravity to pull food toward the blades. Instead, a metal plate moves back and forth under a roller-like blending head to crush food. The secret is to create a mash that has the right amount of proteins and sugars to make a product like soymilk. The experiment in microgravity went well, Chipman said. They measured the sugar concentrations after blending, and are comparing the results to measurements from ground tests. Their data analysis will be included in a final report. Contact Chipman, 515-291-9964; Cheryll Reitmeier, food science and human nutrition, 515-294-4325; or Teddi Barron, News Service, 515-294-4778.

SEMINAR SERIES ON FOOD AND CROP SECURITY SCHEDULED AT ISU

A seminar series on food and crop biosecurity issues at Iowa State University will feature World Food Prize Laureate John Niederhauser. On Sept. 28, Jim Stack, director of the Great Plains Diagnostic Network, will present "Information Security vs. Freedom of Information in the Era of Increased Agricultural Biosecurity." Charles Hurburgh, ISU professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, will present "Security, Certification And Product Traceability In The Grain Handling Industry" on Oct. 5. Niederhauser will present "International Agricultural Development: A Personal History" on Oct. 12. Niederhauser, who won the World Food Prize in 1990, discovered a durable resistance to the potato late blight disease, which boosted the food supply for many nations. All seminars will be at 4:10 p.m. in 210 Bessey Hall on the Iowa State campus. The seminars are co-sponsored by the College of Agriculture, the Plant Sciences Institute and the plant pathology department. Contact Forrest Nutter, plant pathology, 515-294-8737; or Barb McBreen, Agriculture Communications Service, 515-294-0707.

USES FOR HOOP BARNS EXPANDING

Interest in hoop barns continues to grow, as evidenced by the 250 participants at a recent national conference at Iowa State University focusing on hoop barns for livestock. An international scientific symposium was held the following day. (Presentations from the two meetings are available online at http://www.abe.iastate.edu/ABLS/.) Iowa State researchers have been studying hoops for livestock production for nine years. Hoop buildings originally gained attention for pork production because of their low-capital cost, competitive returns and versatility. Recent innovations have expanded hoop production beyond its initial focus to providing shelter for sows and piglets, dairy and beef cattle and other animal species. A new Iowa State research project involves 120 feeder cattle in a hoop barn on the Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm in southwest Iowa. A new manual about hoop barns, produced by Midwest Plan Service, includes six chapters. Three deal with swine, one with beef, one with dairy and one with the wide variety of uses for hoop barns, including horses, sheep, ostriches, emus and hay or machinery storage. The manual is available for purchase online at http://www.mwpshq.org or by calling 1-800-562-3618. Contact Mark Honeyman, animal science and College of Agriculture research and demonstration farms, 515-294-4621; Jay Harmon, agricultural and biosystems engineering, (515) 294-0554; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications Service, 515-294-0705. Note to editors: Media can obtain a free copy of the hoop barns manual by contacting Honeyman, 515-294-4621.

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