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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


FSR Hot Topics: Cost Containment, Bioproducts, Nanotechnology

August 21, 2006

LONDON, Ohio -- The Department of Energy predicts that almost half of the country's chemical and industrial material demand will be supplied from renewable feedstocks by 2050. Visitors to Ohio State University's Farm Science Review have the opportunity to take a peek into an effort that is putting Ohio on track to becoming a leader in the manufacturing of such bioproducts.


The Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC), a new research alliance that integrates academia and industry toward the development of renewable specialty chemicals, polymers and plastics, will be featured at this year's Farm Science Review. The Review will be held Sept. 19-21 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Renewables/bioproducts is one of three agricultural production hot topics getting special emphasis at this year's farm show. The other two topics are cost containment/farm management and nanotechnology.

"The ag industry is the No. 1 industry in Ohio, and Ohio is a national leader in polymer and advanced materials technology. OBIC is designed to bridge those two industries," said Denny Hall, who is in charge of public information for OBIC and is special assistant to the dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. "OBIC is all about finding a new use and increased value for the corn and soybeans Ohio farmers produce, while providing environmental benefits through the production of bioproducts.

An OBIC exhibit at Farm Science Review will demonstrate the potential for producing products such as adhesives, coatings, plastics and packaging from the corn and soybeans that Ohio growers produce, as well as highlight the companies that are working to make that happen. One day, the fenders on a combine or the film wrap around a bottle of water could be made from field crops, said Hall.

Bioproducts is a way to add value to Ohio's field crops, during a time when managing the production of corn, wheat and soybeans in the face of high fuel and fertilizer costs and increased land rental rates is becoming a challenge.

To aid producers in balancing production costs with on-farm profit, Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist Barry Ward will be on hand during the Review to provide farm management strategies to help contain increasing costs.

"To get the most out of farm profit a grower needs to know the costs, know how to manage those costs, and understand how they impact the bottom line," said Ward, with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. "We can't completely eliminate those costs but there are steps that can be taken to help mitigate those costs, such as making timely purchases and buying in bulk."

Ward will share data to visitors that compares on-farm costs between 2001 and 2006 in such areas as fuel and fertilizer, land rental and cash rates, custom rates and marketing to help create more awareness about the factors that are pulling more money from a farmer's pocket.

"We've seen significant increases in on-farm costs over the past five years. For example, fertilizer costs in corn production have increased 37 to 45 percent," said Ward. "You have to know how to balance those budgets to continue to stay competitive in the business. And that's where Ohio State University comes in."

Purdue University is also doing its small part at Farm Science Review to showcase the latest in agricultural production and technology is a big way -- with nanotechnology.

"Nano in Your Neighborhood" explores nanotechnology, a combination of science, engineering and technology. Nanotechnology allows the creation of objects so small that they're measured in nanometers -- a single sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

Farm Science Review visitors can stroll through "Nanotown" and imagine the possibilities nanotechnology offers: customized cancer-fighting drugs, batteries and fuel cells with enormous energy capacity, super strong and light building materials, incredibly fast computers, and much more.

All three hot topics will be featured in the Firebaugh Building on Friday Avenue throughout the three-day farm event.

Farm Science Review is sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and the academic units of the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased from county offices of OSU Extension or participating agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept 19-20 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21. For more information, log on to


Candace Pollock
Barry Ward, Denny Hall