Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Many Environmentally/Ecologically Friendly Inventions - Agriculture Edition

How Many Environmentally/Ecologically Friendly Inventions?
Part 6 — Agriculture

Inventions in the Agriculture Index allow the US to continue to feed itself and a large fraction of the world.
I firmly believe that farmers were the first conservationists, and continue to be most directly tied to practices which conserve soil and water, as their livelihood depends upon it. Do you like to eat? Thank a farmer.
The four Agriculture Index patents in our survey cover four USPC classes:
  • plant husbandry
  • harvesters
  • plant protecting and regulating compositions
  • organic compounds
The United States leads the world in corn production. Oklahoma State University estimates that in 2009, 124,361 square miles of the US were devoted to corn production (this area is larger than every state with the exception of Alaska, Texas, California, and Montana). Thus, any improvement in planting, fertilizing, or harvesting practices or equipment has great potential to yield positive environmental benefits.
Enter Patent Number 7,373,767 issued and assigned to Marion Calmer (Alpha, IL) on May 20, 2008. Calmer’s patent, titled “Corn head row unit,” is placed by the USPTO in 56/95, which is a corn stalk type cutting harvester using spiral gatherers. The design of the harvester provides “a smooth uninterrupted improved flow of corn stalk material through the ear separation chamber and is the first row unit designed to be environmentally friendly by ensuring that the majority of the corn plant remains connected to its original root system which prevents it from rapidly decomposing, blowing or washing away.”
We hope this series has provided you a small glimpse into the types of recent patents that inventors have explicitly considered to be environmentally or ecologically friendly. They represent a tiny fraction of the innovations found within the patentECO Indexes.