USDA Research Drives Innovation

USDA scientists and researchers reported 320 new inventions in 2018

Published online: Jul 05, 2019 Articles
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On June 28, the USDA released its annual Technology Transfer Report, which highlights innovations from scientists and researchers that are solving problems for farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers; and creating opportunities for American businesses to thrive. Yesterday, Secretary Perdue discussed the release of the Technology Transfer Report at the Forbes AgTech Summit held in Salinas, Calif., during a fireside chat with Mike Federle, the CEO of Forbes.
 
The USDA’s Technology Transfer Report revealed 320 new inventions from USDA laboratories in fiscal year 2018, along with 471 licenses, 120 patent applications and 67 actual patents. Discoveries include a repellent made from coconut oil to ward off blood-sucking insects that cost the cattle industry more than $2.4 billion annually, technology that keeps almond crops from being lost to heavy rains, and a treatment for peanut allergies.
“Long before anyone ever coined the modern-day phrase of ‘technology transfer,’ it was part of the culture at USDA to deliver solutions to the people of America,”Secretary Perdue said. “Today, USDA is still helping to drive technological innovation – both on the farm and off. Studies show that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to our economy. Innovations produced by USDA scientists and through public-private partnerships add value to American agriculture and the U.S. economy, create jobs, and help American producers compete in the global marketplace.”
Innovation highlights mentioned in the report include (along with corresponding page numbers in the report for each):                          
  • A new bio-based insect repellent that uses fatty acids derived from coconut oil to ward off blood-sucking insects that cost the cattle industry more than $2.4 billion annually. (p. 117)
  • Energy-saving new technology using sequential infrared heat and hot air to simultaneously dry and decontaminate wet whole almonds, a crop worth $5.33 billion a year in California. (p. 111)
  • A system for removing nitrate from contaminated water and recycling it for re-use as fertilizer. (p. 131)
  • A treatment for peanut allergy. (p. 115)
  • A test strip for major foodborne pathogens that reduces testing time from 24-72 hours to about 30 minutes, allowing food to be tested more often at less expense. (p. 384)
  • A vaccine against Streptococcus suis that may markedly improve the health and welfare of pigs while reducing the use of antibiotics. (p. 123)
  • Using gene editing as a tool to engineer an African swine fever vaccine. (p. 123)
  • The discovery of a hormone – asprosin – that controls the desire to eat, making it a potential tool for the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. (p. 110)
  • A set of time-series maps that can help forest resource managers plan strategically for how changing climate might affect the geographic distribution of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. (p. 288)
  • A technique that detects the dreaded Zika virus in mosquitoes by simply shining a special beam of light on a whole mosquito for less than three seconds – an approach that is 18 times faster and 110 times cheaper than the current alternative. (p. 117)
  • “Adapt-N,” an online tool that provides small- to large-scale corn growers in 26 states with low-cost soil carbon assessment and greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting capabilities. (p. 394)
  • A soy-based resin that can replace traditional anti-fouling boat paint without containing copper that can accumulate in underwater environments(p. 383)
  • A safe, new insecticide for use on the fruit fly – methyl benzoate – which was found to be 5 to 20 times more toxic to fruit fly larvae. (p. 147)
  • Development of the first U.S. hard-white waxy high-yielding winter wheat, which can be used to develop novel whole grain products and is a more efficient substrate for ethanol production. (p. 141)
USDA issues the report each year on technology-transfer activities for the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Forest Service (FS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD).