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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Research Project #428722

Research Project: Evaluation of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Low-Value Agricultural Crops and Products to Enhance Their Use and Value

Location: Functional Foods Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-167-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 4, 2015
End Date: May 3, 2020

Objective 1: Evaluate and characterize chemicals and nutriceuticals in agricultural crops and products for new or improved food and feed uses. Objective 2: Enhance methodologies to quickly determine and evaluate chemical components in a given agricultural product. Objective 3: Enhance methodologies to rapidly and non-destructively assess the identity and levels of key phytochemicals and nutriceuticals in large sample sets of raw agricultural harvests and products. Objective 4: Evaluate and characterize phytochemical composition and bio-physical properties from mid-west area crops, and under-utilized plants and nuisance plants to develop new materials for use as naturally based bio-pesticides for microbial, insect, or weed pests, or to enhance home garden, organic, agricultural, horticultural plant growth and production. Objective 5: Evaluate and characterize phytochemical composition and biophysical properties to develop new bio-based additives and products for the production of new bio-based ingredients as plastics, fillers, delivery agents, replacement ingredients for the production of new bio-based consumer products.

The goals of this project are (1) to develop accurate analytical methodology and rapid non-destructive spectrophotometric analytical methods to rapidly assess the levels of specific phytochemicals in seeds, tissues, and processed products, and (2) to develop new uses for low value agricultural waste and co-products, under-utilized plant species. Methodologies will be applied to prepare sufficient quantities of pure phytochemicals for further research, to prepare green-process extracts with defined phytochemical composition, and to characterize the phytochemical composition in products and co-products processed from established crops and new crops, as well as in products from biofuel crops, such as oil seed press cakes, straw, and processing residues. Characterization of key phytochemicals from crude and processed agricultural products and co-products will be used to drive the development of new products from current agricultural crops, as well as developing new and alternative crops. The production of biofuels and agricultural food products generates a variety of co-products (carbon dioxide, sugars, fibers, corn dried distillers grain, glycerol, seed press cakes) and other less valuable residues. Redirecting these wastes to more profitable, higher value uses would benefit both the producers and processors. This project will evaluate and utilize green extraction methods in the preparation of refined phytochemical products, which will be used as ingredients for both functional foods, and new non-food agronomic uses, such as for new uses as functional food ingredients, bio-pesticides and bio-control agents, bio-fillers and additives for alternative bio-fiber and bio-plastic products, and as soil amendments for use in organic farming, lawn care, potting mixes, and home garden products.