ARS Honors Geneticist for Giant Forage
Soybean Plants By Don Comis
BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 13Geneticist Thomas E. Devine
won an Agricultural Research Service
2001 Technology Transfer award for pioneering the reintroduction of soybean as
a forage crop but with two major differences. The three new varieties he
has released in the past five yearsDonegal, Derry and Tyroneare
giants, more than six feet tall, and theyre the first U.S. soybean
varieties bred especially for forage, using the entire plant rather than just
Soybeans were first raised for livestock forage and reached
their peak in the 1920s. Then George Washington Carver and others showed that
soybeans would be valuable for human food as well as industrial products. By
1964, only three percent of soybean acreage was for forage. Devine has worked
hard in recent decades to change that.
ARS, the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency, will honor Devine and
other scientists today at a 1 p.m. ceremony at the agencys
Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural
Devine works in the center's
He will receive a plaque and cash award for Superior Technology
Transfer from Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. ARS awards the tech
transfer award each year to scientists or teams of scientist who are especially
successful at getting their research out into the marketplace and into the
hands of users.
Devine not only spent 19 years developing the
varietieswith performance tests in 24 statesbut he followed
through, first by certifying the varieties under the Plant Variety Protection
Act and then by giving technical guidance to the three seed companies that
licensed the rights to market them, Knipling said. He also devoted
time to publicizing the varieties in the farm press and communicating with
farmers, industry and extension personnel.
The new varieties are so popular that it was hard to meet demand
in the early days of seed production, but seed production was expanded to meet
demand. As an example of their popularity, Donegal has been planted alone or in
seed mixtures on 15,000 to 20,000 acres of cropland in 2001. And Derry is being
grown from Pennsylvania to California, showing a wide range of adaptability.
There has also been international interest in all three varieties.
Devine received ARS Certificates of Merit for his research in
1997 and 1998.