Think of it as a bread bowl for cows – sort of.
Kansas State University professor Xiuzhi Susan Sun and her colleagues have developed a biodegradable container that is being used to hold nutritional supplements for cattle.
Sun, a researcher and teacher in the Bio-Materials and Technology Laboratory of K-State's Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program, developed the product in collaboration with Greg Karr from AgRenew, Inc. It is sold under the name BioBarrel Single Trip Container.
K-State's BIVAP center, which opened in 2005, was designed to conduct research into new uses for agricultural products and to commercialize them through various ways.
AgRenew is a Manhattan-based joint venture that develops and commercializes products and processes based on the use of agricultural waste products and byproducts.
The container, made of ground straw coated with edible adhesive made from soy flour, is marketed to hold CRYSTALYX feed supplement. CRYSTALYX is manufactured by Ridley Block Operations, a division of Ridley Inc.
"We developed the BioBarrel to be a convenient way for producers to feed a nutritional supplement to their livestock. Unlike containers made of steel and plastic, producers do not have to head back out to the pasture to try to locate the container in which it was fed," says Sun, who specializes in the science and engineering of products made from agricultural feedstocks.
Although the environmentally-responsible container was designed to hold the supplement and not necessarily to be eaten, it can be safely consumed by cattle because it uses no harmful chemicals, Sun says.
"Because the BioBarrel naturally degrades as it sits out in the weather and eventually disappears, producers do not need to return to the pasture to collect them, which saves labor, time and fuel," Sun says.
As cattle consume the supplement, the sides of the BioBarrel break down naturally. Once the supplement is consumed, the bottom of the container will also degrade over time.
More information about BioBarrel is available on the Web at www.crystalyx.com/biobarrel/.
Information about K-State's BIVAP program is available by calling 785-532-7035 or on the Web at www.grains.ksu.edu/BIVAP.