ISU Ag Dean Explains Plans for New Century Farm

New research farm to be built west of Ames will enhance biofuels production.

On September 21, DuPont announced a pledge of $1 million to the Iowa State University's New Century Farm, the first research effort in the United States to focus on producing cellulosic ethanol on the farm. The research efforts also will focus on enhancing the production, processing and utilization of feedstocks for biofuels and biomaterials.

"The need for renewable sources of energy requires a dynamic new way of thinking. The New Century Farm will research the practical things farmers can do in the future to grow, harvest and store biomass in a sustainable manner," said Dean Oestreich, DuPont vice president and general manager and president of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. "We're proud to partner with Iowa State to create a demonstration farm that will be the first of its kind to integrate both the growing and processing of biomass into biofuels."

Will focus on biomass crop research

In a recent interview with Wallaces Farmer, ISU Dean of Agriculture Wendy Wintersteen, explained the plans for the New Century Farm.

The New Century Farm will include a facility for research in biomass crop breeding, crop rotation needs and ways to efficiently store and process biomass material. It also will feature a teaching laboratory for training future scientists and farmers, and an extension facility to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental viability of bioenergy. The funding from DuPont, through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business, will be allocated from 2008 to 2012.

"Supporting the bioeconomy is one of our highest priorities at Iowa State University, and the New Century Farm initiative is key to these efforts," says ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. "We're delighted to have Pioneer partnering with us in this important initiative."

Construction is to start this fall

The New Century Farm will be constructed on the ISU Ag Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm west of Ames. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall, with a completion date for the main bioprocessing facility a year later.

"We are excited to be working with Pioneer and others to create a facility that will help address the opportunities and challenges of producing biofuels and bioproducts from biomass," Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU, said. "At the New Century Farm, the opportunity is great to integrate directly into agricultural fields the connections with harvesting, transportation, storage and processing. The New Century Farm will not only provide a venue for cutting-edge research, it will also allow us to train the next generation of scientists in this critical growth area."

DuPont is committed to delivering new technologies to the growing renewable fuels market, which includes improving biofuels production through improved seed and crop protection products; developing new technologies to allow conversion of cellulose to biofuels; and developing next-generation biofuels.

Developing next-generation biofuels

Wintersteen ISU's College of Agriculture is committed to using Iowa's ag base to build the state's bioeconomy through application of science to practical problems, leadership in university biorenewables programs, extension delivery of research-based information and education, and training of students for new career opportunities in the bioeconomy. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides significant leadership and resources for ISU's Office of Biorenewables Programs to achieve the goals of the university-wide Bioeconomy Initiative.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU is building on 150 years of excellence in research and education, says Wintersteen. The college educates more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students, supports the research programs of more than 330 faculty members in the college and across campus, and serves thousands of Iowans statewide through its extension programs.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers 30 different undergraduate career paths, from animal science, agronomy and horticulture to biology, genetics and environmental science, and awards $1 million in scholarships every year. The college has a 98% placement rate, with graduates on the job or pursuing advanced degrees. Two-thirds begin their careers in the state of Iowa.

Oesterich says DuPont – one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals 17 years ago – has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investment. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.

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