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Hunter, Kuykendall Win ARS Tech-Transfer Award / February 11, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Hunter, Kuykendall Win ARS Tech-Transfer Award

By David Elstein
February 11, 2002

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 11—Agricultural Research Service scientists William J. Hunter and David Kuykendall have won a Technology Transfer Award from the federal research agency for developing and moving to the marketplace a microbial inoculant for soybeans that has gained wide acceptance among farmers.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hunter is a microbiologist at ARS’ Soil-Plant-Nutrient Research lab in Fort Collins, Colo. Kuykendall is a microbiologist at the agency’s Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory in Beltsville.

The scientists will receive their award during a ceremony Wednesday at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

The microbial inoculant developed by Hunter and Kuykendall enables soybean farmers to produce larger yields and potentially larger profits. The patented inoculant was licensed to Urbana Laboratories in 1995.

Prior to this invention, approximately 5 percent of soybean farmers used an inoculant. Now up to 40 percent of soybean farmers in some states use the USDA bacterial strain, which enhances the soybean plant’s uptake of nutrients and protects it from disease pathogens.

Urbana Laboratories reports that during the first seven years of use of the inoculant, more than 13 million acres were treated with the USDA strain.

The ARS scientists’ research has appeared in scientific journals and the popular press. The benefits of microbial inoculant were explained to committees in both chambers of Congress as an example of the important research ARS conducts.

Thousands of products contain soybeans, including foods, hair and personal grooming products, and household cleaners. Soybeans also provide the world’s most widely used edible oil.

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Last Modified: 2/13/2002
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