News Service


Nick Christians, Horticulture, (515) 294-0036
Patricia Sweeney, Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association, (515) 222-0921
Arianna McKinney, News Service, (515) 294-4777


AMES, Iowa -- Nick E. Christians, Iowa State University professor of horticulture, was chosen as 1998's Iowa Inventor of the Year by the Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association.

The award was given in recognition for his discovery of the properties and uses for corn gluten meal as a natural, environmentally friendly lawn herbicide. Christians will be honored at the IIPLA annual banquet Oct. 30.

Corn gluten is a byproduct of a process, called wet milling, that removes starch from corn. It is used as feed material for livestock, fish and pets.

"It is a byproduct available in very large quantities in the Midwest," Christians said.

Christians discovered the herbicidal properties of corn gluten meal by accident. During a study of of golf course greens, Christians observed that cornmeal kept grass from establishing. After several experiments, he learned that corn gluten prevents root growth.

Pre-emergence application of the organic herbicide controls crabgrass and other weeds while not harming already established grass and plants. "It provides an environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic chemical herbicides," Christians said.

The granular form of corn gluten meal also contains 10 percent nitrogen, so it acts as a "weed and feed" by preventing germinating weeds from taking hold and stimulating growth of established grasses and plants Criteria for the award include having at least one patent, doing the majority of the work for this invention in Iowa, being a resident of Iowa or having significant ties to Iowa and "contributing in a significant manner to improving life for humankind," Patricia Sweeney, president of IIPLA, said.

Christians holds three U.S. patents based on his corn gluten meal work and has one international patent pending. Corn gluten meal herbicide has been marketed and is available through several companies. For more information on corn gluten meal and where to buy it, see


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