Department Of Agriculture Is Fostering Innovation And Enterprise


Good-tasting frozen orange juice is just one of thousands of ideas that the USDA helped individuals to realize: image via ars.usda.govGood-tasting frozen orange juice is just one of thousands of ideas that the USDA helped individuals to realize: image via ars.usda.govFor those of us that don't really know what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been up to lately, the Department has announced its innovative initiatives and patents acquired during fiscal year 2013, and I think you'll find some of its activities pretty impressive. And did you know that the USDA might even be a resource to get one of your own inventions off the ground?

In FY 2013, the USDA disclosed 180 new inventions, filed 147 patent applications, and received 51 patents. Not bad for one year, eh?

This was all accomplished through technology transfer agreements the Department's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has with 259 Cooperative Research and Development Centers across the country, including unversities, research organizations, and private businesses.  Here are just some of the discoveries made through ARS sponsorship in 2013:

  •  A computer-based model of the fluid milk process that expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy industry 25 percent per gallon of milk by 2020.  The model has already been sent to more than 100 U.S. dairy processors.
  • A new kind of flour made from chardonnay grapes that can prevent weight gain and increases in cholesterol.  The Mayo Clinic is conducting clinical trials using this flour.
  • An enzyme compound that can be used as an insecticide for sand flies, disease-spreading insects that have killed hundreds of thousands of children in Africa and pose a threat to U.S. forces in Iraq.
  • A packet that releases an antimicrobial vapor in fruit packages to sustain freshness.
  • Ways to turn leaves and lawn waste into bioenergy in cities.
  • A process to turn old tires into zinc fertilizer.
  • A hand-held device that can identify West Nile Virus, and perhaps other diseases, with gold nanoparticles.

These are pretty impressive accomplishments for the USDA and they are only a few of hundreds realized in 2013.  Some of the Department's past contributions to our lives include frozen orange juice (bet you didn't know that!), almost all breeds of cranberries and rasberries grown in the U.S., and "Tifsport," the artificial turf used on NFL playing fields and PGA golf courses.

If you have an idea that you think might interest the ARS, the agency does form license agreements with private businesses, so you may want to check it out.


sources: Plymouth's Hamlet Hub, ARS