USDA awards two Iowa businesses innovation research grants


15391552150_98090a0600_k
Two Iowa firms recently received agricultural research grants from the USDA as a part of a national program. (Brain Abeling/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | September 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded two Iowa companies with small business innovation and research grants.

In total, $7.4 million dollars was granted to 76 businesses in 35 states. Former Iowa Governor and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the grants are meant to provide support for innovative agricultural research and bolster rural communities. Vilsack said,”This program basically focuses on ag innovation, the innovation that can impact and affect production of crops and livestock or the protection of crops and livestock.” He added, “An idea, a thought basically then is developed and the assistance we provide here will allow that idea and thought to potentially get up to scale, to get commercial-sized and to get out in the marketplace.”

Both of the Iowa companies are receiving $100,000 from the grant program for work on specific projects. The first, Accelerated Ag Technologies of Urbandale will use the funds to help develop reliable maize pollen preservation techniques. Vilsack said that this research is linked to corn production. An Ames company will recieve the second $100,000. Vilsack said, “Gross-Wen Technologies of Ames is working on developing a new biobased product from wastewater that will essentially result in a slow-release, algae-based fertilizer.”

In an interview, Vilsack said, “we cannot underestimate the role that small business innovation has played in bringing jobs back to their hometowns.” He added that these businesses are crucial, especially while much of rural America is still recovering from one of the worst economic recessions the U.S. has seen.

Farmland prices rise in renewable energy boom


A portion of the World's largest windfarm. 259 wind turbines over 200 feet tall located in Cherokee and Buena Vista Counties in Northwestern Iowa. Together they produce 192,750 kW of energy. According to recent reports, Iowa gets generates about 15 percent of its energy from wind. Photo by Jim Hammer, Wikimedia Commons

This work by Midwest Energy News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

By Kevin Dobbs

Midwest farmers – and the land on which they rely – have prospered in recent years, even as the U.S. endured a financial crisis and economic recession.

And for better or worse, agriculture has built its good health on the fortunes of energy.

While rising global demand for food — particularly from densely populated and growing countries such as India — gets a chunk of the credit, this newfound prosperity is closely linked to the United States government’s backing of corn-based ethanol. Farm incomes and farmland values have surged as the ethanol industry emerged and then swelled in the past decade, creating a new form of steady demand for corn and hastening the rise in value of the soil in which it grows. Continue reading

On the Radio: Untilled fields mean less air pollution


Listen to this week’s radio segment on the environmental benefits of no-till farming.

For an in-depth description of no-till farming and of how farmers will need to adopt the practice to meet increased food demands of the future, see this video published by The EconomistContinue reading