Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917
AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
Ames, Iowa --
NEW SOY FOODS DATABASE WILL HELP CANCER RESEARCHERS
A new U.S. Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University database will help scientists pinpoint which estrogen-like compounds -- isoflavones -- in soy foods may be responsible for a lower risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. USDA scientists who assembled the database, which was launched April 7 on the World Wide Web, relied heavily on analyses of isoflavones by Patricia Murphy, ISU professor of food science and human nutrition. The work was funded in part by the U.S. Army Breast Cancer Research Initiative. Murphy and other ISU researchers have been studying isoflavones in soybeans and soy foods for several years. The USDA database gives values for the major isoflavones in 128 soy foods and ingredients. Isoflavones mimic the hormone estrogen. They also have antioxidant capability, and may perform other functions that enhance health. In a separate project, Murphy is part of an effort to identify rich sources of cancer- fighting substances in legumes, including soybeans, peas and beans. The four-year project, which has collaborators at the University of Nebraska and South Dakota State University, will provide information needed to make dietary recommendations. The USDA-ISU isoflavone database can be found on the web at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/isoflav/isoflav.ht ml. Contact Murphy, (515) 294-1970, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
WATCH THE LARCH AND WAIT FOR WOOLLY CUPGRASS
"Plant corn when oak-tree leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear." "Apply pre-emergence herbicide to control crabgrass when the forsythia begins to drop its flowers." Sayings like these may seem like folklore now, but there was a time when farmers and green thumbs commonly made decisions based on the growth of nearby plants, says Bob Hartzler, an ISU extension weed management specialist. As part of a larger project to develop user-friendly weed emergence prediction tools, Hartzler is studying bioindicators -- plants that have growth stages strongly correlated with the emergence of specific weeds. He has found a connection between larch-tree needles and woolly cupgrass, a common weed in crop fields. Over the last three years, Hartzler found that when larch needles were an inch long, woolly cupgrass would begin popping up in fields seven or eight days later. Sounds low-tech, but from a biological standpoint, it's just the opposite, he said. "A plant collects as much or more data than any weather station. Plants are much more sophisticated at integrating these environmental cues than the most complex computer model." Hartzler said it may be possible to use the larch or other bioindicators as a starting point for measuring growth stages throughout the growing season. This April he continues to measure larch needles and woolly cupgrass emergence. Check out his "Larch Watch" web site at www.weeds.iastate.edu. Contact Hartzler, Agronomy, (515) 294-1923, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
CROP WEEDS EMERGE IN REGULAR SEQUENCE ACROSS IOWA
Sometimes it seems that weeds appear without any rhyme or reason. But research at Iowa State has shown that weed species emerge in a regular order in crop fields across Iowa. The finding may be a step toward developing ways to predict the emergence of weeds, said Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist. The sequence of emergence highlights the problem of weed management, as weeds don't all come up at the same time. Still, farmers could use this sequence to better prepare themselves. "The ability to predict weed emergence to the exact day isn't critical," Hartzler said. "But understanding when weeds are likely to emerge is important. Farmers would know when to scout for velvetleaf by watching giant ragweed if they knew that velvetleaf began to emerge approximately one week later than ragweed." More experiments will be repeated this year, focusing more on soil, temperature and other environmental conditions that affect emergence. The researchers keep a current total of emerging weeds, which are posted on the Internet. Check the web site: www.weeds.iastate.edu. Contact Hartzler, Agronomy, (515) 294-1923, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
ISU PLAYS A ROLE IN SEED SENT TO FIGHT HUNGER IN RUSSIA
ISU's Seed Science Center recently conducted tests and provided technical advice that allowed 15,000 metric tons of seed corn and vegetable seed to be sent to Russia. The shipment was a "Food for Progress" donation organized by the USDA and the American Seed Trade Association. The seeds, which came from more than two dozen U.S. companies, will help Russian farmers plant crops this spring and help alleviate hunger in the country. Before shipping, tests were required to ensure the seed was high-quality and disease-free. ISU conducted tests on more than 650 seed corn samples. To ensure the seed would be shipped in time for spring planting in Russia, ISU staff worked overtime and weekends. Contact Manjit Misra, Seed Science Center, (515) 294-6821, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
THE RIGHT GLOVES SHOULD BE PART OF SAFE SPRING WARDROBE
At this time of year, the hands of farmers, gardeners and yard workers reach for a variety of chemicals. That's why it's important to reach for the right gloves, says Janis Stone, professor of textiles and clothing. "Read the labels on chemical containers carefully to see whether gloves are recommended," Stone said. Most people who work with pesticides know they should wear gloves, but the challenge is choosing the right kind. Material, thickness and fit are important factors, Stone said. Several types of chemical- resistant gloves are available, but they may not be easy to find. ISU has a list of sources for ordering chemical- resistant gloves. Common sense also is important. "People should never pull off gloves with their teeth and they should always wash their hands carefully with soap and water before using the restroom or sitting down to eat," she said. Stone has conducted research on cleaning gloves used to handle chemicals. "Proper cleaning can reduce, but not eliminate, contamination. Pesticides can permeate glove materials and leave no noticeable signs. So it's a good practice to replace gloves frequently," she said. Contact Stone, (515) 294-6712, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
PRECISION TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP MANAGE SOIL FERTILITY
Variable rate technology can help farmers do a better job of managing soil fertility, say ISU researchers. Variable rate technology involves systems that control application of seed, pesticides and fertilizer based on computer data on what's best for each part of a field. Using the technology, producers can design application rates to fit the soil types and nutrient needs of their fields. That may result in less fertilizer applied to the soil, and ultimately less nitrogen run-off in rivers and streams. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development researchers have been studying the economic costs and savings associated with using the technology. Their findings may help producers, equipment manufacturers, input suppliers and other agribusiness agents who are working on adoption and implementation of precision-farming technologies. Contact Greg Pautsch, CARD, (515) 294-6234; Bruce Babcock, CARD, (515) 294-5764; or Judith Pim, CARD, (515) 294-6257.
CLIMATE CHANGE INFORMATION FROM AG FORUM NOW ONLINE
Audio and text of some presentations from the 1999 National Forum for Agriculture in March are now available online. The forum, hosted by Iowa State, centered on the theme "Climate Change and the Implications for Agriculture and Energy." Check the web site for presentations by Thomas Spencer of the European Parliament, and Bruce Babcock and Catherine Kling of ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). Other presentations will be posted later. Check the forum link on CARD's homepage: http://www.card.iastate.edu/. Contact Judith Pim, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, (515) 294-6257.
AGRONOMY PRIVATE EYE . . . AND MORE AG SCIENCE IN STORE
Iowa State's Science in Agriculture Day will bring 150 high school students to campus on April 22 to learn about scientific opportunities in agriculture. Students choose to participate in hands-on activities from 25 topics, including those titled "Agronomy Private Eye"; "Water Flows Downhill and Guess What Moves Along"; "Microscopy and You"; "Food Flavors: The Real Difference Between Pepsi and Coke"; "Eradicating Insect Pests"; and "Making Building Materials from Cornstalks and Switchgrass." This is the 11th year of the program. Contact Sherry Pogranichniy, Agronomy, (515) 294-3273, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Information, (515) 294- 2314. You can check the web at: http://www.agron.iastate.edu/rc/SAD.html.
BIOTECH AND GLOBAL JUSTICE: APRIL 17 BIOETHICS FORUM
"Biotechnology and Global Justice" is the theme of this year's Iowa State University Bioethics Symposium on April 17 in the Molecular Biology Building on campus. The symposium will examine the impact of agricultural biotechnology on the world's rich and poor nations. Speakers include Rebecca Goldburg of the Environmental Defense Fund; Loren Lomasky of Bowling Green State University; and Tony Smith, professor of philosophy and religious studies at ISU. The $5 registration fee includes lunch. Contact Clark Ford, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-0343, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
VISIONS FOR ANIMAL BREEDING AND GENETICS ON THE AGENDA
Animal scientists from more than 16 countries will discuss future directions of animal breeding and genetics at an Iowa State University conference, May 16-18. "We're standing at the threshold of an era that will open new opportunities for animal researchers," said Max Rothschild, distinguished professor of animal science. Rothschild and animal science professor Sue Lamont are co-chairs for the conference, titled "From Jay L. Lush to Genomics: Visions for Animal Breeding and Genetics." The conference will observe the pioneering work of Jay Lush, an internationally known animal scientist who began his work at ISU in the 1930s. Scheduled to speak are scientists from the United States, Canada, Scotland, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, The Netherlands and Kenya. Contact Rothschild, (515) 294-6202; Lamont, (515) 294-4100; or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information.
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