sealPurdue Agriculture Briefs

April 2000

Bowl fever continues with Purdue's Bug Bowl

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos and b-roll of previous Bug Bowls available. To arrange coverage, contact Jesica Webb, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is making its second appearance in a bowl this year. But this bowl doesn't have anything to do with football. It's an insect bowl, and the 10th annual Purdue Bug Bowl on April 15 and 16 will be filled with as much action as a Boilermaker football game.

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In the cricket-spitting arena, insects will be flying through the air with the grace of the passes that Drew Brees threw in the New Year's Day Outback Bowl. Cricket spitting, which became part of Bug Bowl in 1997 as a truly tongue-in-cheek contest, has become a national event. CNN covered the event last year, and the Guinness Book of Records now sanctions cricket spitting as an official sport.

Contestants shouldn't expect to walk away the winner unless they've been practicing – the world record is 32 feet, 1 and 1/4 inches. Cricket spitting was so popular in past Bug Bowls that official rules and regulations have been developed. There are now four divisions: men's, women's, youth boys, and youth girls.

Another crowd pleaser, cockroach racing, could be compared to Purdue's offensive running game. It draws people in like flies and keeps them interested for the duration of the contest. Crowd members choose their favorite roach and cheer it on to victory at Purdue's "Roach Hill Downs" racecourse. Official jockeys for each roach are picked from among the young children in the audience. The roaches race for the much-envied "Old Open Can," a bronzed garbage can with a cockroach sitting on top. The names of past winners are engraved on plaques hanging from the side.

No sporting event is complete without food, so the Thomas Say Society – also known as the undergraduate entomology club – will cook up an Epicurean delight, chocolate-covered crickets. Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue and co-founder of the event, says that chocolate-covered crickets taste just like peanut-flavored candy.

"You taste the chocolate, not the cricket," Turpin says. "Insects do have kind of a nutty taste to them, so it's just like you're eating a chocolate-covered peanut."

Bug Bowl also includes a cake-decorating contest, insect crafts, an insect petting zoo, and the caterpillar canter, a six-legged race where children imitate caterpillar locomotion.

The Bug Bowl is part of Purdue's SpringFest, which draws more than 10,000 people to campus each year. All activities are free and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. SpringFest includes the 87th annual Horticulture Show, the 37th annual Veterinary Medicine Open House, an animal sciences open house and scores of other activities. It features departments from the Schools of Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Science, and Veterinary Medicine.

The Purdue Student Union Board also celebrates Mothers Weekend on April 15 and 16 with an Arts and Crafts Show.

CONTACTS: Tom Turpin, (765) 494-44568,; Jennifer Franklin, (765) 494-9061

Purdue's low-cost hog feed lowers manure pollutants

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University researchers have developed a cost-effective, nutritional diet for pigs that produces manure with less troublesome nitrogen and less odor than typical pig excrement, addressing two problems that threaten the survival of the pork industry in Indiana and throughout the United States.

Nitrogen and phosphorous in pig manure have been associated with ground water and surface water contamination, and the increasingly close proximity of neighborhoods to hog farms has brought a rise in public complaints about odors from confined-feeding hog facilities.

Purdue animal scientists Alan Sutton and Brian Richert worked with Purdue agricultural engineer Al Heber and others to develop the new diet.

"By reducing the crude protein of a standard hog diet and supplementing with synthetic amino acids and 5 percent cellulose, we were able to cut nitrogen excretion nearly in half," Sutton says. "The exact reduction of nitrogen in the manure was 48 percent."

By lowering crude protein to 10 percent and supplementing with synthetic amino acids alone, nitrogen in the manure was reduced by 33 percent, compared to excrement produced by hogs on a standard 13 percent crude protein diet. Ammonia emission – another key odor-causer in manure – also was reduced by 33 percent with this diet.

Adding 10 percent soybean hulls to such a diet resulted in a 40 percent ammonia reduction, and another odor-causing agent, hydrogen sulfide, was reduced by 26 percent. Total odors were diminished by 30 percent compared to that from pigs fed a standard diet.

In addition, the low-protein, soy-hull diet cost $3.86 less per ton than the standard diet.

Pigs had less backfat when fed the reduced-protein, soy-hull diet, but average daily weight gains dropped a little.

Richert and Sutton say a variety of management practices can reduce the chance of polluting the environment with excess nitrogen. They advise producers to carefully limit amounts of dietary protein by feeding high-quality, low-protein, amino-acid-supplemented diets to reduce nitrogen in manure.

An article about these dietary recommendations, "Nutritional Strategies for Reducing Manure DM, N, and P Concentrations," by Richert and Sutton is available on the World Wide Web.

CONTACTS: Sutton, (765) 494-8012,; Richert, (765) 494-4837,

Contract production requires special considerations

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As producers look for ways to increase their farm incomes – or at least stabilize them – contracting is a growing trend in both grain and livestock production.

Specialty crops – those nontraditional commodities usually grown to the specifications of particular clients – require some unique considerations, says Purdue University agricultural economist James Pritchett. He says it's worthwhile to consider specialty crops, but not without studying how they affect the marketing and production practices of the "traditional" farm.

Examples of value-added crops are waxy corn, white corn, clear hilium soybeans and soybeans that are high in oleic acid. These crops often earn premiums above normal commodity prices because of their special attributes.

Pritchett says maintaining the desired traits of specialty crops may require certain planting, harvesting, handling, storage and processing practices. Formal contracts between purchasers and producers ensure markets for the products, and that the grains will be suitable for end users.

For livestock producers, a major motive for contracting appears to be the availability of financing, according to Purdue agricultural economist Ken Foster. "Many producers strapped for cash find themselves with empty facilities and time on their hands," he says. "In this case, a contractor may provide the hogs, veterinary service and feed, if the farmer will supply the labor and buildings."

However, Foster says with hog prices on the upswing, hog producers should be cautious about entering into contracts that limit their potential earnings.

Pritchett and Foster recommend that producers contact attorneys, technical and financial experts, and other producers to help them understand contract details. Some points to consider:

• Does the contract require additional investment in equipment and is the contract duration long enough to recapture those costs?

•  Do facilities and equipment need to be certified or approved?

•  How is the producer paid? Are the payment terms clear?

•  Under what conditions can the contract be terminated, renewed or renegotiated?

•  Are provisions for conflict resolution spelled out in the contract?

CONTACTS: Pritchett, (765) 496-6262,; Foster, (765) 494-1116,

Corn and soybean field guide available

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The 2000 Corn and Soybean Field Guide, a pocket-sized reference book for diagnosing insect, weed, disease and nutrient problems, is available for purchase.

This 200-page edition of the popular guide, a cooperative effort of the Purdue University Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center and the Purdue Pest Management Program, now features color photographs in the disease and fertility diagnosis section to aid in the correct analysis of disease symptoms. The herbicide and insecticide tables have also been revised for this 13th edition. The guide also contains a new section containing useful tips for individuals practicing no-till farming.

"We have found that the guides are invaluable tools for farmers, particularly during the growing season," said Greg Willoughby, director of the Crop Diagnostic Training Programs. "But the pocket guides are also great resources for sales reps, field scouts and a variety of other people. The guides are great for anyone who has a need to diagnose and treat problems in the field."

According to Willoughby, the guide is designed primarily for use in the Eastern Corn Belt, but previous guides has been purchased by many people not from this geographical region.

"This guide is one of only a few of this type in existence," he said. "We have people buying our guide from as far northwest as Nebraska and Canada and as far southeast as Georgia. More than 75 percent of our customers do come from the eastern Midwest, though."

The 2000 Corn and Soybean Pocket Guide costs $3.50, plus 5 percent sales tax for Indiana residents. Order toll-free from the Purdue Media Distribution Center at (888) 398-4636. For orders of 100 or more copies, contact Greg Willoughby, (765) 494-7731,

Compiled by Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Six-year-old Hannah Becker handles a 9-inch tropical millipede as sister Erica, 3, looks on at Purdue's 1999 Bug Bowl. Both girls are from West Lafayette. This year's Bug Bowl will be April 15-16. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: bugbowl2000.preview

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