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Farmers Test New Cash Crops
Two new crops are being tested this year for the first time on Midwest farms as alternatives to corn, soybeans and wheat.
South Dakota farmers planted garbanzo beans, better known as chick peas, as part of a research program. Garbanzo beans can be eaten in salads but also make a high-protein cattle feed, containing about 22% protein. Little processing is required to turn them into feed.
According to a report in the Minneapolis Tribune, Standard Oil's livestock feed division paid six farmers to grow 600 test acres of the beans this year. If results of the test are successful the oil company plans to sponsor a much larger acreage next year as part of the company's plan to get into fhe livestock feed business in a big way. One advantage of the garbanzo bean is that it sinks a tap-root 4 to 6 ft. deep, which makes it ideal in dry ground. It also fixes nitrogen in the soil like alfalfa and soybeans. Ray Weisler, a farmer who's growing the beans near Highmore in central South Dakota, said he was paid $110 an acre by the company. He hopes to grow more next year to replace some of the wheat, oats, and barley he normally raises.
In Iowa, researchers have been studying a crop called crambe, a seed grain that's about the size of birdshot. Thirty acres of the experimental oilseed crop were grown on an Iowa State farm. Seed was planted at a rate of 15 lbs. per acre April 11 and harvested at the rate of 2,000 lbs. per acre in mid July. When crushed, crambe makes an oil used by the plastics industry.

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #5