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Farmers gathered at the CUTC in St. Louis this week (June 4, 5, 6) to learn about future uses for the nation’s number one commodity crop.
The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference is organized by NCGA or the National Corn Growers Association. It happens every two years and is dedicated to exploring future uses of corn. Vijay Singh is a regular. He works for the agricultural college at the University of Illinois and specializes in engineering ethanol processing plants. Singh sees them expanding to include biochemical production in the near future, “That’s the big thing right now and for that, we need large amounts of sugar. The U.S. is at a major advantage in terms of producing sugars from corn and that comes from the corn processing industry.”
The corn processing industry has long focused on creating food products, high fructose corn syrup, ethanol and some other co-products. However, now that sugar, rather than crude oil, has become the preferred feedstock for producing high-value biochemicals that are used to create consumer products, things like polymers, there is a place for corn in that pipeline.
The U of I engineer says because it is economically feasible dry-grind ethanol plants are starting to produce sugar along with producing ethanol. Those sugars can then be used to produce biochemicals. The biochemicals made from a renewable source, corn, are taking the place of petrochemicals.
When farmers want to know how well an insecticide works they turn to their Land Grant University for unbiased information.
This little four-row planter is outfitted with some pretty high tech stuff. All of which must be calibrated before it goes to the field where it will be used to plant a western corn rootworm trial. A trial that will assess how well twelve different current in-furrow liquid and granular insecticides work. Well, at least some of them are current products, others are experimentals says University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Nick Seiter, "We like to evaluate all the different options that are out there. There is always potential that we could lose control tactics that we are using currently."
Researchers at Illinois want to make sure to evaluate everything available just in case something becomes ineffective. It is important to evaluate the efficacy of today's products and those in the pipeline. Illinois has long done research to test how well different control methods work on the western corn rootworm. Naturally, these include the Bt corn hybrids, too.
As for the insect, it is really nimble and quite capable of adapting to all sorts of ways farmers use to control it, says Seiter, "It is an insect that is very good at developing resistance to multiple different control tactics. Out of all the insects we deal with it is the one growers find of most interest in terms of efficacy; in terms of what products, what hybrids, what control tactics are going to give them the best control."
On that account, Nick Seiter from ILLINOIS, and his counterparts at Land Grants across the nation are working hard to stay up with the ever-changing western corn rootworm and the products used to control it.