New sprayer technology reduces pesticide use In Brief: An experimental variable-rate spraying system that helps growers efficiently apply chemicals to trees was developed by USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency’s Application Technology Research Unit in Wooster, Ohio. The new sprayer reduced average pesticide use by 46% to 68%, with an average cost savings of $230 per acre for ornamental nurseries. The cost savings can be much higher for orchards and other fruit crop productions. ASABE member Heping Zhu, an ARS agricultural engineer, with his colleagues engineer Richard Derksen and research leader Charles Krause, developed the laser-guided sprayer that synchronizes spray outputs to tree structures. Their colleagues at the Ohio State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Tennessee evaluated the sprayer, which would help nursery, orchard, and grape growers apply chemicals to trees. Zhu and his colleagues received a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant to develop this technology to control insects and diseases. The technology and performance evaluations were described in several articles in Transactions of the ASABE. The sprayer developed by Zhu and his colleagues controls the output to match targeted tree structures. The two-ton sprayer can treat either a single row or two to six rows of trees at a time. Conventional spray application technology requires excessive pesticide use to achieve effective pest control in floral, nursery, orchard, and other specialty crop production systems, according to Zhu. This challenge has been overcome by the new precision sprayer, which is able to characterize the presence, size, shape, and foliage density of target trees and automatically applies the optimum amount of pesticide. Zhu and his colleagues conducted field trials of the sprayer’s performance in six commercial nurseries in Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee. Their field experiments showed that the precision sprayer consistently applied the correct amount of chemicals despite changes in tree structure and species, and it increased the consistency of spray deposition uniformity on targets at different growth stages. Pest control with the new sprayer was comparable to that of conventional sprayers and reduced pesticide use. For more information, contact Sharon Durham, USDA-ARS Public Affairs Specialist, Sharon.Durham@ars.usda.gov. New bio-absorbable medical foam headed to market In Brief: Recent work to replace Styrofoam has led to a new, bio-absorbable medical foam that’s on its way to market. ASABE member Jeffrey Catchmark, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State, is working to commercialize a patent-pending biofoam pad for wound and trauma care. The material is bioabsorbable, soft, and resilient—unique properties that are useful in treating wounds in surgical, military, veterinary, and other settings. The foam absorbs blood and body fluids, expands to put pressure on the wound, conforms to the wound’s shape, and doesn’t stick to tissue. Once applied, the foam’s surface transitions to a gel that promotes healing and can be left inside the body. The foam can be placed within traumatic wounds, such as gunshots, shrapnel cuts, and other deep wounds, to stop bleeding and stabilize the area until the patient can be taken to a medical facility. Initially, Catchmark set out to replace Styrofoam and the plastic films used on disposable containers in the food service industry, which sends these products to the landfill, preventing them from being recycled or composted. He wanted to use a biodegradable material, so he took a fresh look at materials like cellulose, starch, and chitosan. Catchmark combined starch from potatoes and chitosan from shellfish to create the unique foam. Although a sustainable replacement for Styrofoam is needed, the market for it isn’t friendly, says Catchmark, and sustainable materials can be cost-prohibitive to make initially. “I started thinking ‘What are foams used for today that represent the highest value?’ and that’s how I ended up in the medical arena,” says Catchmark. There is a growing interest in bio-medical foams. Other high-value natural foams are made of collagen and gelatin. Catchmark’s co-principal investigator was Scott Armen, chief of the Division of Trauma, Acute Care, and Critical Care Surgery at Penn State’s Hershey College of Medicine. Says Catchmark, “I talked to some people at the Hershey Medical Center, showed them this foam, and asked ‘Are there any applications for this that you could think of?’ Their response was, ‘Absolutely, you may have a new wound care product!’ ” After Catchmark spoke with Armen and learned that the material had medical applications, the two began to work toward commercialization. “This foam holds great potential for application in trauma care,” says Armen, “both in the civilian and military sectors. It’s unique in that it can expand to conform to irregular wounds while it’s also impregnated with hemostatic agent.” The foam is currently being tested on cadavers at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center. The researchers hope to produce a go-to pack of the foam in a variety of shapes to instantly treat any number of wounds. The pack could be easily carried in the field for use by emergency responders and military medics. “It started off as a Styrofoam replacement, but now it’s medical material. That’s the beauty of biological materials. They can be used for lots of different applications,” says Catchmark. Catchmark won $5,000 from TechCelerator@StateCollege in late 2015 to help take the product to market following a tenweek boot camp for entrepreneurs. Armen also won $75,000 toward commercializing the foam. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Medicine jointly funded the award under the Research Applications for Innovation (RAIN) grant program. Through its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences awards grants to help researchers commercialize their discoveries and become successful in the marketplace. “The RAIN grant is attempting to help faculty cross the valley of death, to get closer to commercial reality so that others can adopt our ideas,” says Catchmark. For more information, contact Martha Schupp, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jeff Muhollem, email@example.com.
Published by ASABE. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/MayJune+2016+update/2473751/300712/article.html.