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Technology report released by USDA

Report highlights new patents in agriculture

By Diego Flammini,

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers have developed new patents, inventions and technologies that could spur economic growth and be developed commercially.

Those findings have been documented in the Department’s 2014 Annual Report on Technology Transfer.

Technology and research

"USDA has a proven track record of performing research that has tangible benefits for the American public, and studies have found every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to our economy," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA is now accelerating the commercialization of federal research, and government researchers are working closely with the private sector to develop new technology and transfer it to the marketplace."

During the 2014 fiscal year, the USDA received 83 patents, an increase from 51 patents in 2013. It also filed 119 patent applications and revealed 117 new inventions which could lead to patents in the future.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Procedures aimed at removing up to 98% of allergens from peanuts without affecting taste
  • New soil nitrogen testing that can determine the total amount of nitrogen in the soil that’s available for plants
  • New mosquito control methods so the insect doesn’t threaten pollinators
  • More information on non-honey bee pollinators and ways of trapping bees to assure quality apple production
  • Reducing nitrate losses in drainage water using cover crops

Throughout its history, the USDA’s research innovations have led to some commonly used products, including:

  • Mass production of penicillin during World War II
  • DEET, the active ingredient in many mosquito repellents
  • Flour made from chardonnay grape seeds capable of preventing increases in cholesterol and weight-gain

Tell us your thoughts about some of the new findings in the 2014 Annual Report on Technology Transfer. What are some innovations you think would benefit farmers and agriculture?

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