Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station
1999 Research Annual Report
We are pleased to include the 1999 Annual Report of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station in this issue of the College of Agriculture Magazine. The Experiment Station encompasses all of the research activities of the College of Agriculture conducted on the Lexington Campus, the Research and Education Center at Princeton, the Robinson Forest and Station in Eastern Kentucky, and our research farms in Central Kentucky. Our research faculty also conduct dozens of trials on farms and at other sites throughout the Commonwealth.
On the following pages you will find just a few examples from the several hundred innovative, exciting research studies being conducted by the faculty, staff, and students of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. A complete record of all 1999 Experiment Station projects and publications can be found on the College of Agricultures web site (www.ca.uky.edu); printed copies of the listing may be requested from the Associate Directors office.
More than ever, the people and programs of the Experiment Station are focused on the issues which matter to Kentucky:
- new economic opportunities for Kentucky communities;
- survival of the family farm;
- sustainable use of soil, water, and forest resources;
- food safety and quality; and
- employing cutting-edge technology for the benefit of all Kentuckians.
This report portrays only a fraction of our continuing efforts to discover and develop the new ideas, technology, and unbiased information which are needed now, more than ever, during these times of change and challenge in agriculture.
Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station
1999 Financial Statement
Federal funds $ 5,297,337
State funds 23, 575,928
Total $ 28,873,265
Personnel $ 19,123,174
Operating Expenses 8,322,502
Total $ 28,873,265
Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station
Total Research Support, 1999
GIFTS & endowment income
$ 4.3 million
GRANTS & contracts
$ 7.7 million
$ 5.3 million
$ 23.6 million
1999 Experiment Station Highlights
- Research grants totaled nearly $8 million in 1999, an increase of approximately 40% since 1996.
- Research faculty generated about $12 million in grants, contracts, gifts, and endowment income, meaning that almost one-third of the costs of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station are self-generated.
- Faculty published 306 original research articles during 1999.
- Three patents were issued to Experiment Station faculty during 1999. Three new high tech companies were formed as a result of faculty discoveries.
- The number of students seeking advanced graduate degrees and post-doctoral scholars working in the College increased for the seventh straight year to 366.
- Construction of Phase I of the Animal Research Center in Woodford County neared completion at the end of 1999. World-class facilities are now available for scientists studying swine, sheep, and beef production.
- Several major gifts, plus matching dollars from Kentucky 's Research Challenge Trust Fund, will create new named Chairs, Professorships, and research support endowments.
M. Scott Smith
Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station
S-107 Agricultural Science Center
University of Kentucky
Lexington , Kentucky 40546-0091
New Crop Opportunities
Through funding secured by U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, the UK College of Agriculture has established a New Crop Opportunities Center . The Center will help Kentucky 's farmers explore new crops to replace lost tobacco quota.
The Center, which combines faculty expertise in a variety of disciplines, will target the development of new horticultural and agronomic crops. In grain crops, the Center will include a cooperative effort among faculty members in the following areas:
- Agronomists will be putting the finishing touches on a soybean variety which has improved quality for food uses, as well as improving a variety of soft white winter wheat.
- Agricultural economists will develop profitability scenarios for several value-added grain crops.
- Agricultural engineers will focus on harvest, handling, and storage of grain crops.
- Entomologists will be looking at insect control recommendations for high oil corn crops.
In the horticulture crop area, researchers will focus on development of new production and marketing technologies for four horticultural enterprises, including bacterial spot resistance, yields and quality in bell and specialty peppers; blackberries for fresh and processing markets; nursery crops; and greenhouse-grown spring bedding plants and winter vegetables and herbs.
Taken together, the combined efforts of the faculty in the New Crop Opportunities Center should position Kentucky farmers to benefit from both new crops and value-added versions of current crops.
Making Ends Meet in Rural Kentucky
How much would an employed single mother of two children need to earn to meet her family's monthly bills in rural Kentucky ? That's the question that rural sociologists Julie Zimmerman and Lori Garkovich asked when they studied the impacts of welfare reform in Kentucky .
Using real dollar amounts from a variety of Kentucky rural communities, the researchers found that an employed single mother with two children would need to earn about $394 each week, or about $1,642 a month to survive. Included in their costs are housing, food, utilities, local phone service, household and personal items, clothing, and transportation. Long distance phone service, cable television, newspapers, health insurance and children's toys are not included in their calculations.
On a per-hour basis, rural Kentucky single mothers would need to earn a take-home wage of $9.85 per hour, before taxes. When Medicare and Social Security are included, wages need to increase to $10.61 per hour. The current minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, and working full-time, yearly earnings would be only $10,300 before taxes. At the minimum wage, an employed single mother of two would need to earn an additional $4.70 an hour, or she would have to work an additional 35 hours every week at the minimum wage, just to meet the basic monthly budget.
When Bad Things Happen . . .
...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. And the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season and the flax was ripe.
The ancient Egyptians had the ten plagues to contend with, among others hail, pestilence, and insects. Farmers today face not only these natural disasters, but also chaos in the marketplace, resulting from the globalization of agricultural markets and the lessening of direct government support for their endeavors.
The answer to their problems isn't just more crop insurancealthough the answer may involve crop insurance. The answer also includes developing marketing strategies to hedge against price fluctuations and a host of innovations to iron out the economic wrinkles of agriculture today.
The Center for Innovations in Food, Agricultural, and Risk Management, newly established at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture with cooperation from Michigan State University , Mississippi State University, the University of Arizona and The Ohio State University, will explore ways to create partnerships among farmers and risk management concerns to help mitigate the economic disaster associated with natural disaster.
While the Center won't be able to prevent disasters such as hurricanes, drought, or even low commodity prices, it will search for new ways to spread the consequences of such disasters over a larger number of people or longer span of time; in that way, individuals won't have to shoulder the consequences alone. And the Center will research areas of risk that really haven't been investigated before, such as environmental risk and rural community risk.
Agricultural economists Jerry Skees and Kim Zeuli co-direct this new center. Along with Skees and Zeuli, researchers at the cooperating universities will pursue studies to understand risk in the agricultural industry and develop new lines of thought concerning what products and innovations could minimize the riskiness of farming.
What Goes In . . .
Because neither pigs nor chickens have a specific enzyme, phytase, in their guts, they don't digest much of the complex phosphorus (phytate phosphorus) found in their diets in cereal grains and oilseed meal. As a result, they excrete in their manure a great deal of phosphorus, which can find its way into water supplies, posing a serious environmental hazard. Given the burgeoning population of broilers and the increasing concentration of swine production in Kentucky , it's important to control the amount of phosphorus excreted by these animals.
Animal scientist Gary Cromwell has found a way to help pigs and chickens digest more of the phytate phosphorus from these feedstuffs. By adding the enzyme phytase to their rations, pigs and chickens are able to digestand absorbphytate phosphorus from cereal grains and oilseed meal. The addition of phytase to the ration improves digestion of phytate phosphorus by a factor of three to four, and the animal excretes 25 to 40 percent less phosphorus in their manure, which can help protect our water supplies.
Cromwell's research also has shown that genetically enhanced corn contains about half as much phytate phosphorus and three times as much inorganic phosphorus as conventional varieties. The phosphorus in this type of corn is four to five times more available to pigs and chicks than that of conventional cultivars. Using this type of corn in the ration reduced phosphorus excretion by 40 percent. And when the phytase enzyme was added to the ration made up of this genetically enhanced corn, phosphorus excretion was reduced by 55 percent.
Cromwell currently is evaluating a genetically enhanced soybean cultivar that contains lower levels of phytate phosphorus but two to three times more inorganic phosphorus as conventional soybeans. Early research shows that the phosphorus in genetically enhanced soybean meal was twice as available to pigs and chicks as that in conventional cultivars. And growing pigs fed a ration made up of both genetically enhanced corn and genetically enhanced soybean meal performed optimally and excreted about half as much phosphorus in their manure.
The Return of the Elk
After an absence of what experts think has been two centuries, elk are now once again part of Kentucky 's fauna. Two years ago, 200 elk from Utah were released into Eastern Kentucky through a project of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since then, another 400 elk have been released.
Dave Maehr, with UK 's Department of Forestry, was at each of the sites in Eastern Kentucky when the elk were released and he was ready with a spate of questions he planned to answer through a variety of research studies.
Now, two years later, Maehr has three doctoral students, two master's students and ties to students from France and Sweden as well as official ties to two other universities who also want to help study what has been called the largest restoration effort of the species ever attempted.
The goal of the reintroduction was to restock eastern Kentucky 's woodlands with elkambitiously set at 1,800 elk by the ninth year of their reintroduction.
During the elk's first two years at their new home in Kentucky , Maehr has monitored the movementsthe very existenceof the 400 elk with radio collars. Now, with death losses at less than 20 percent, which is much lower than anticipated, Maehr believes that more than 300 of that group of elk are still in the wilds of Kentucky not counting the 200 additional elk released this year. Many have had offspringnative-born Kentucky elksince their arrival, which Maehr believes is an indicator that they are adapting reasonably well to their new environs.
Research projects have examined or are examining home range establishment patterns, activity, mortality, calf production and survival, habitat use, calving habitat selection, seasonal and daily variation in behavior, interactions with white-tailed deer and coyotes, and the herd's impact on forest amphibians and songbirds. So far, most of the animals have stayed within 12 miles of their release site, although a few are now as far away as Tennessee , Virginia , and the Kentucky-Ohio border.
Geranium Juice: Opiate of the Beetles?
In tag-team fashion, Japanese beetles can devour rose blossoms posthaste, as many gardeners know all too well.
But research conducted by entomology professor Dan Potter and entomology laboratory technician David Held may hold the answers to gardeners' prayers.
Japanese beetles become intoxicated by geranium juice, particularly juice associated with petals. A single petal will paralyze a Japanese beetle for about 18 hours.
Just think about it. A beetle high on geranium juice can't do much damage. In fact, the Kentucky research team has shown that about a third of the beetles die (particularly males, but that's another research project) while in their drunken stupor.
Those that don't succumb become sober, and, like dope fiends, come back for another repast on geranium. But it takes more the second time to get them high. Apparently, a beetle's brain isn't very contemplative about causes and effects.
Keeping Japanese beetles away from roses is useful, but the entomologists' research could have larger implications. Japanese beetles attack a host of other plants, including a variety of vegetables and trees, but research suggests that they may actually prefer geranium petals.
Now that the researchers have established the Japanese beetles' fondness for the intoxicant, they're studying exactly what it is in geranium juice that causes their attraction, intoxication, and death.
They've noted that the paralysis is strongest when the plants the beetles chow down on are grown in bright sunlight, but they don't know why. When they find what it is about geranium petals in sunlight that causes paralysis, they may be able to synthesize an extract for commercial protection of a variety of plants that Japanese beetles attack.
The entomologists' research, aside from holding hope for combating the pesky beetles, also may have interest for scientists who study insect learning behavior. After the beetles have become intoxicated once, why do they return to feed again on the stuff that makes them paralyzed?
Not Just a Cottage (Cheese) Industry
Perhaps it was in a moment of indecision that Little Miss Muffett ate both the curds and the whey. Curds and whey are the products of cheese making. The curds become cheese and the whey, or the liquid portion, is discarded. Because she ate both, we might conclude that Miss Muffett really didn't know when to separate the curds from the whey.
But she may not have been alone in her indecisiveness. Cheese makers have always had a tough time knowing when they should separate the two. If they separate them too quickly, much of the protein and fat that give cheese its texture and richness is lost with the whey. If they wait too long, the quality of the cheese is poor.
But UK researchers Fred Payne and Clair Hicks have developed a process that takes the guesswork out of separating curds from the whey, and that will mean better cheese at a lower cost.
Cheese is manufactured by warming milk and adding enzymes to coagulate it. The enzyme breaks down milk protein, which causes the protein to link, trapping fat globules. Part of the milk turns to a thick gel, which is then cut, drained, and pressed. Over the centuries, cheese makers have depended on the feel of the coagulum with a spatula to know when to cut it. But that is tricky business.
The UK research team has found that when the milk coagulates the light reflected from it differs at different degrees of coagulation. Thus, their device measures the wavelengths of light reflected from the curd and at a precise measurement, the curd is cut and the whey can be separated from the curds.
A small Kentucky cheese plant that used their patented device reported that whey fat losses were down 20 percent resulting in costs savings of $150,000 in one year. Worldwide interest in the technology continues to increase as the technology proves itself in commercial settings.
By a Nose: New Equine Flu Vaccine
The collaboration of veterinary scientists at UK 's Gluck Equine Research Center and virologists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has produced an equine influenza vaccine that is superior to previous vaccines.
UK 's Tom Chambers and Robert Holland collected wild types of the flu virus from across the U.S. and collaborated with Patricia Whitaker-Dowling and Julius Youngner at the University of Pittsburgh to develop a modified live virus vaccine that is both safe and highly effective in preventing equine influenza.
While occasionally fatal in young and aged horses, equine flu's real significance is that it often debilitates horses for several months, especially if the weakened horse develops a bacterial disease. Equine flu is characterized by fever, lethargy, anorexia, and non-productive coughing that may last several weeks, in uncomplicated cases.
The collection of wild types of flu virus by Chambers and Holland was important in developing the successful vaccine. It is believed that the virus has drifted into at least two subtypes over the years, one common in the U.S. and the other common in Europe , much like the drift occurring in human influenza. And while the various subtypes are closely related, immunity from one type doesn't necessarily mean the animal will be immune to another type.
In clinical trials on more than 1,000 horses, the new vaccine was safe and provided complete protection against the disease for three months; it also reduced clinical signs of the disease significantly for up to one year later.
Administered through an intranasal cannula, the vaccine produces an immune response in the nasal passages which stops the disease process at the site of infection. The new vaccine is marketed by Heska Corporation, a Fort Collins , Colorado , veterinary biotechnology firm that funded much of the research.
Sweating Like a Race Horse
Sweat is one mechanism by which warm-blooded animals regulate their temperature. Horses sweat profusely during a race because they are burning a great deal of energy and heat is one product of combustion. Sweating helps the animal rid itself of excess heat by increasing the surface area from which it is dissipated.
In her research, animal scientist Laurie Lawrence has found that feeding high fiber diets may help performance animals such as those in endurance competitions consume and retain more water that they can use to cool themselves during and after strenuous exercise. Her research also has found that pre-event feeding practices can affect energy levels available for the horse during strenuous workouts, while post-event feeding practices may influence the horse's ability to recover from vigorous exercise.
History of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station
Morrill Act passed in Congress to foster the founding of a college in each state supported in part by public funds.
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky University formed.
M.A. Scovell becomes the first director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
Congressional Hatch Act provides partial support for state agricultural experiment stations.
First Agricultural Experiment Station Building completed (now Ezra Gillis Building ).
Name changed to State University , Lexington , Kentucky . Six divisions formed, including the College of Agriculture.
College of Agriculture and Agricultural Experiment Station merge under the leadership of M.A. Scovell.
J.H. Kastle becomes Dean and Director.
Name changed to University of Kentucky .
Thomas Poe Cooper appointed Dean and Director.
Robinson Forest given to College of Agriculture by E.O. Robinson Mountain Fund.
Robinson Substation established at Quicksand as a branch of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
West Kentucky Substation established at Princeton as a branch of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
Frank J. Welch becomes Dean and Director.
Eden Shale Farm given to College of Agriculture by the people of the area.
South Farm and Coldstream Farm purchased.
William A. Seay becomes Dean and Director.
Maine Chance Farm purchased.
Charles E. Barnhart becomes Dean and Director.
Rottgering-Kuegel Agricultural Research and Education Building completed at Princeton .
Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Building completed.
C. Oran Little becomes Dean and Director.
Woodford County Farm acquired (formerly Pin Oak).