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Researcher works to improve economics of feed costs

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Helping livestock producers cope with higher feed costs is a top priority for Iowa State University researcher Kurt Rosentrater in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

Rosentrater joined Iowa State a little more than a year ago after eight years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he led the agency's only research program devoted to value-added uses for distiller's grains, the primary coproduct from corn-based ethanol production.

Distillers grains have recently topped soybean meal production volumes for use in livestock feed, he said. Even though there has been much progress over the last several years, work is still needed to determine how best to use ethanol coproducts in livestock diets.

"Ethanol and biodiesel coproducts are key ingredients, but the biofuels industry is constantly evolving, so coproduct types and compositions change over time as well. In terms of optimizing feed costs, coproducts are only part of the equation. Many other ingredients also are involved. How do all of these ingredients work together to help lower feeding costs without sacrificing animal productivity? That's a key question in many producers' minds," Rosentrater said.

The assistant professor's work focuses on improving the sustainability of agricultural systems, including grain storage, handling and processing operations; conversion of corn stover, algae and other biorenewable feedstocks into next generation biofuels; and economic analysis and life cycle assessment of bio-based systems.

"Dr. Rosentrater brings tremendous experience and expertise to ISU in the areas of sustainability of biorenewable resources, improvement of processing efficiencies and life cycle analysis," said Steve Mickelson, chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

Rosentrater earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees at Iowa State in agricultural engineering. He was raised on a farm near Aurelia, Iowa.

Date: 12/10/2012



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