Leading researchers return to MN Ag EXPO this week to showcase their projects bringing new levels of innovation to modern farm practices and expanding markets for corn. Attendees will be able to speak with researchers leading each corn checkoff-funded project at the Research Center, located on the second floor of the Verizon Center.
On Wednesday, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) will be in attendance to share exciting research that could bring corn to previously unthinkable markets. Projects on display include:
- Research converting corn-based biomass into higher-value polymeric materials. The chemical transformation would take an abundance of corn and convert it into a material that could then be used to develop products that are part of our everyday lives.
- Research using glucose obtained from corn in a process that forms isoprene, which is a key ingredient in rubber. The use of corn would replace petroleum, making the process more sustainable.
- The group is also developing a process to strengthen Polylactide (PLA) plastics, which are developed using a process that ferments sugar derived from corn. The project would add copolymer micelles to PLA plastic, greatly increasing its toughness and, consequently, expanding its uses.
On Thursday, University of Minnesota researchers from a variety of backgrounds will take over the Research Center to showcase projects that will shape future farm practices:
- Bo Hu, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering: Hu’s research is improving the nutritional value of ethanol co-products through yeast engineering, delivering a major boost to DDGS used for animal feed.
- Brad Carlson, Department of Soil, Water and Climate: In its fourth year, Nitrogen Smart has shared the fundamentals of nitrogen management with more than 700 farmers, producing on-farm savings.
- Michael Sadowsky, Department of Soil, Water and Climate: Sadowsky is developing a technology that would use the enzyme lactonase to disrupt communication between bacteria, preventing it from spreading.
- Bruce Potter, Southwest Research and Outreach Center: Potter’s project intends to improve our understanding of where and when economically important Minnesota insects and diseases are impacting the state’s corn crop.
- Axel Garcia Y Garcia, Southwest Research and Outreach Center: Garcia y Garcia’s research measures the impact of cover crops on productivity under different environments and production practices.