Minnesota’s corn farmers are on the forefront of agricultural evolution. Through their investment in the corn check-off, the state’s corn growers devote more than $4 million annually in research that shapes the future of agriculture and the way we use agricultural products.
Current on-farm research is taking a closer look at efficiency around the use of vital nutrients. Corn farmer-funded research at the University of Minnesota seeks a deeper understanding of the behavior of potassium in the soil, for example. By better understanding the nutrient’s behavior, farmers will have improved site-specific guidance on how much potassium needs to be applied.
Also in the spirit of efficiency, researchers are currently investigating irrigation strategies that improve water use efficiency, while minimizing nitrate leeching and maximize crop utilization of soil nitrogen.
Through the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program, corn farmers are taking the lead on research seeking innovative, yet practical, solutions to on-farm issues. For example, farmers are developing a method to plant cover crops in a way that limits both expense and time. If successful, farmers would now be able to reap the benefits of cover crops—preventing erosion and increasing nitrogen uptake—without the barriers.
The state’s corn growers are also investing in innovation off the farm.
At the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP), corn farmer-funded research is using corn to replace petroleum in plastics to make them more environmentally friendly. The research to date has tremendous promise, which is why MCGA recently announced a $460,000 investment in continued CSP research expanding the uses of corn-based plastic to all sorts of everyday products.
Minnesota’s corn farmers are also supporting research out of South Dakota State University that rethinks how we use ethanol co-products that have a hidden value for human consumption. Minnesota’s 19 ethanol plants produce about 3 million metric tons of DDGs, which have applications in functional foods and products with disease prevention properties. The project will better identify potential markets for DDGs and other co-products that could increase corn demand.
And to bring corn to sea life, Minnesota’s corn growers are investing in research exploring corn as a cost-efficient and nutritious feed for shrimp. Minnesota Corn worked with a company producing lab-grown shrimp to use corn as a nutrient source. The trial successfully used higher percentages of corn as part of their diet, making lab-grown shrimp another market with potential for the state’s corn farmers. More than 1.6 billion pounds of shrimp are consumed annually.
Today’s farms and the uses for their products are evolving to become more sustainable and environmentally responsible, and Minnesota’s corn growers are proud to drive this continued innovation. It is one of many ways MN Corn Grows MN.