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In This Issue BAE’s Role in the History of Peanut Mechanization .......... 1 Faculty News ......................... 2 Department Head’s Comments ............................. 3 Alumni Updates .................... 3 New at Weaver ...................... 4 An Alumni Grows Peanuts in N.C. ................................... 5 BAE Remembers Henry Bowen ................................... 5 Some Peanut Facts ................ 6 N.C. Pictorial History of Peanut Mechanization .......... 7 In the Future ......................... 7 Fall Graduate Listing ........... 8

The new senior design room gets smiles from several students on the first day of classes this fall. See more pictures on page 4.

Visit the BAE home page at: Fax comments & questions to: BAE News 919-515-6772

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Winter 2003

BAE’s Role in the History of Peanut Mechanization Records show that in the 1800's, peanuts were grown commercially in South Carolina and used for oil, food and a cocoa substitute. However, peanuts were regarded as food for livestock and the poor. They also were difficult to grow and harvest, so they A farmer walks along behind a horse-pulled were not widely grown in plow in a N.C. peanut field. This is how it was done just 60 years ago. the U.S. The first notable increase in U.S. peanut consumption came in 1860 with the outbreak of the Civil War. Soldiers on both sides turned to peanuts for food. They took their taste for peanuts home with them and peanuts were sold freshly roasted by street vendors and became a big treat at baseball games and circuses. While peanut production rose during this time, peanuts were still harvested by hand, leaving stems and trash in the peanuts. Thus, poor quality and lack of uniformity kept down the demand for A 1940’s peanut harvest operation peanuts. in full swing. Around 1900, labor-saving equipment was invented for planting, cultivating, harvesting and picking peanuts from the plants, and for shelling and cleaning the kernels. With these mechanical aids, peanuts rapidly came into demand for oil, roasted and salted nuts, peanut butter and candy. In 1903, Dr. George Washington A typical wagon sled moved Carver began his research at Tuskegee stackpoles until the 1940’s. Institute. The botanist recognized the

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BAE Alumni & Friends – 1

Congratulations-Two BAE faculty recently received prestigious professional recognition. Dr. Susan Blanchard has been named a Fellow of IEEE. This recognition is reserved for a very select group of IEEE members. Her citation states that she is recognized “for contributions in the field of cardiac electrophysiology and for innovations in biomedical engineering education.” The Association of Official Analytical Chemists recently announced that Dr. Tom Whitaker is the 2003 recipient of its Harvey W. Wiley Award, AOAC’s highest scientific award. Whitaker is being honored for his research to improve methods to detect agricultural commodities contaminated with carcinogenic compounds called mycotoxins. As part of the award, AOAC will donate a $1000 scholarship in the name of Whitaker and AOAC to a continued on 6

Department Head Writer Graphics/Layout Editor Advisor

James Young Carolyn Mitkowski Carolyn Mitkowski Rhonda Sherman Mike Boyette

BAE Alumni&Friends is a semi-annual publication of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, North Carolina State University, Box 7625, Raleigh, NC 27695-7625. If you would like to contribute to the next issue of BAE Alumni&Friends, please send your contributions to the above address or email us at:

2 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Faculty News

Peanut Mechanization

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value of the peanut as a cash crop and proposed that peanuts be planted as a rotation crop in the Southeast cotton-growing areas of the country where the boll weevil insect threatened the region's agricultural base. Carver not only contributed to changing the face of southern farming, but he also developed more than 300 uses for peanuts, mostly for industrial purposes. As we know, Carver is considered the father of the peanut industry for his efforts. Today, peanuts contribute over four billion dollars to the U.S. economy each year. Americans eat more than 600 million pounds of peanuts and about 700 million pounds of peanut butter every year. In the nation, North Carolina is ranked as a top peanut producing state. We are currently fourth to Georgia, Texas, and Alabama in the amount of peanuts our farmers produce. Crop rank based on the value of production puts peanuts at number 22 of 128 crops grown in the U.S., and in the value of its cash receipts to N. C. farmers, peanuts are ranked at number thirteen. The top peanut producing counties in our state are: Northampton, Halifax, Bertie, Martin, Edgecombe, Hertford, Gates, Chowan, Pitt, and Bladen, in that order. The state of North Carolina takes its peanut business seriously and the peanut activities at BAE are a reflection of just how serious we have been and currently are about peanuts. BAE has been providing peanut farmers and the industry with research and extension help since the 1940’s. In 1946, after the war, N. C. Teter began peanut research work at BAE. It involved the curing of peanuts in a windrow in contrast to curing on the stack pole (field bundled peanut plants) in the field. Numerous mechanical alternatives were investigated with G. W. Giles handling the fields’ mechanical operations and developments. Experiments included clipping the tops in advance of digging, and another exciting 1949 Harvesting green approach, harvesting the green nuts in one trip. Soon, peanuts peanut drying facilities were built and the goal became to harvest the peanuts in a once-over field operation and dry them from a green state. The once-over harvesting principle was a “first” for the world--a pioneering effort that was ahead of it’s time. At that time, the problem of drying peanuts from a green state appeared to The first once-over protype was be an insurmountable obstacle, but in this era, invented at BAE those who survived the war came home with a renewed spirit. They cherished their free land where education, ingenuity, and cooperation could overcome any situation. By the 1950’s, peanut mechanization was in full swing. The early efforts of many BAE professors, extension personnel, and technical 1952 digger, shaker, windrower

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is the decision by University Administration to develop a separate biomedical engineering department. The new department will be jointly administered by the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with primary faculty appointments and budgetary control in the College of Engineering. This change will significantly affect our undergraduate teaching program since a large percentage of our students choose the biomedical engineering degree. On the positive side, it may James H. Young allow us to better meet the interests of students in our agricultural, bioprocessing, and environmental engineering concentrations. We would solicit your help in identifying and recruiting students to one of the remaining concentrations of our BE degree. One consequence of the new department will be that Dr. Susan Blanchard and Dr. Peter Mente will be transferring to the new department and BAE will be given two new faculty positions in other areas of biological engineering. We mourn the death of Dr. Henry D. Bowen who served on the faculty in BAE for 38 years prior to his retirement in 1991. His enthusiasm and ingenuity in his research and teaching activities were an inspiration for many students (both graduate and undergraduate) during his career at NC State University. At the time of his retirement, the Henry D. Bowen Graduate Fellowship Endowment Fund was established and contributions to that fund will honor Henry and help to support graduate fellowships in BAE. We greatly appreciate and depend upon the continued support of our alumni and friends through their contributions to scholarship and enrichment funds of the department and college. Three new endowments have recently been established by alumni of this department. The Elijah J. and Emogene L. Tyson Scholarship Endowment was established to provide scholarships for BAE students who are rising juniors or seniors and are considered outstanding students, leaders, and of excellent character. Jim Tyson was a 1958 graduate of the department and is a Fellow of ASAE. The Larry M. and Rita P. Sykes Endowment will provide scholarships or fellowships for either undergraduate or graduate students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students from Franklin County will be given priority for these awards. Larry received three degrees from BAE with his PhD being completed in 1971. The Metzger Family Biological and Agricultural Engineering Endowed Scholarship will provide scholarships for students majoring in any area of biological and agricultural engineering who are natural born US citizens. Gerald Metzger is a 1967 graduate of the BAE department. For contribution information please see: n The Annual BAE Holiday Party was held Dec. 19th. 2002. Everyone had fun enjoying a sing-along and holiday triva contest.

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Department Head’s Comments A major development during the past few months

Alumni News

In this issue we hear from Amy C. Dorney, who graduated in 2001 and is working at the Savannah River Site (SRS). Dorney pointed us to the SRS web site at: srs-home.html where we learned that SRS is located in the southeastern coastal area of South Carolina. It is bordered to the west by the Savanna River and Georgia. SRS was constructed during the early 1950’s to produce materials used in the fabrication of nuclear weapons, in support of our nation’s defense programs. Dorney works in the Environmental Restoration Division, serving to find new and innovative technologies to clean up and restore the SRS site to a level that is suitable for future general use. The hope is to turn the 300 square mile site back over to the public. This site can be toured by interested groups, including environmental students. For information about tours, see: www.atomic Dorney has received several training awards and recognitions for meeting regulatory milestones. She loves the work and enjoys the area. She likes riding and training horses, canoeing, camping and traveling. Our newsletter is far reaching this Fall. We heard from Agita Mohammad, who graduated with a MS in 1989 and a PhD. in 1998. He is employed at Andalas University, Padang, Indonesia. Mohammad is married to Silvia Rahmawati, and they have two children, 9 year old Anissa and 3 year old Fandy Putra. Locally, we heard from Steve Lawing, who graduated in 1991. continued on 4

BAE Alumni & Friends – 3

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Lawing is an E.I.T. working as a project manager at Scurry Construction Inc. in Cornelius, NC. Lawing has worked on construction projects and in the construction engineering area in and around the Charlotte area for 10 years. Lawing and his wife Sandy have an 8-month old daughter named Faith Carly. Lawing says, he enjoys getting the Alumni News and wants to keep in touch. Inviting you to keep in touch: Send us your Alumni Update, tell us about yourself and your family, interesting things about your job experiences, and how you put BAE knowledge to work. We would love for you to suggest a story idea of reader interest or just share the newsletter with others. Please send information to Fax 919515-6772 or write BAE Newsletter, Dept. Bio. & Ag. Eng., NCSU, 3110 Faucette Dr., Raleigh, NC 27695-7625. n

New at Weaver

(Above) Dr. Boyette began teaching this fall in a new classroom designed for the specific needs of the senior design course. Old research space located behind room 123b was renovated and partitioned into two areas. The classroom space is fitted with a ceiling-mounted projector and a multimedia computer center. The workshop area (page 8) has continued on page 8

4 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Alumni News

Peanut Mechanization

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staff made strides. People like Mills, Cannon, Williams, Beasley, Glover, Teeter, Giles, Sneed, Ferguson and Young have all made contributions, with Young continuing to work on curing well into the 1990’s. In 1956, Dr. Dickens was the first official ARS-USDA employee working within the department. He represented a new relationship between BAE and a U. S. research organization working jointly on agricultural problems. Dickens pursued many peanut problems with Dickens stands with serious attention to peanut quality. His work resulted in peanut kernel splitter some noteworthy pieces of equipment and methods of and orientator. use. He sized and shelled peanuts without breaking, graded samples of peanuts, then split and oriented the kernels for inspection of internal damage. He also established a practice of taking representative samples from the farmers’ trucks to detect aflatoxin-contaminated lots of stock peanuts. These methods and peanut marketing processes became widely employed by the peanut industry here and abroad. For example, the peanut kernel splitter and orientator developed by Dickens is used for on-site quality checks of peanuts delivered to market. This machine has been used since 1961 for grading all farmers’ stock and shelled peanuts produced in the U. S. This machine also has the distinction of being used at the marketing plant owned by former president Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia. Since the 1950’s, BAE has had a firmly established research arm of the USDA working on peanut market quality and handling. Today’s BAE group includes Dr. Tom Whitaker, Dr. Harold Pattee, and Andrew Slate, with additional USDA personnel working on peanut activities stationed in the Soil Science and Food Grading types of peanuts Science Departments. Currently, Dr. Whitaker’s research involves developing methods to design and evaluate mycotoxin sampling plans and additional grading methods and equipment to assure a safe food and feed supply in domestic and international markets. Dr. Pattee is working on evaluating genetic and composition factor interactions related to peanut flavor inheritance. This research can be used to develop improved flavorful cultivars in various growing regions. Agricultural engineer Andrew Slate is providing engineering and computer programing expertise to this unit. To learn more about BAE/USDA you can visit: Dr. Gary Roberson is working with other faculty to improve peanut harvesting techniques. Statewide peanut extension information is being coordinated by Dr. Jordan of the Crop Science Dept., and current investigations are focused on the benefits and limitations of reduced tillage for production systems and improved systems for agrochemical applications. Roberson is exploring effective A diagram of a peanut combine in action

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BAE (TBE-1986) graduate Dan Ward has combined his agricultural technology education with a lifetime of farm experience to become a prominent farmer in Bladen County and an advocate of peanut farming in particular. Ward Farms has been a family farming operation for several generations, growing major crops like peanuts, tobacco and corn on 1,300 acres in Clarkton. Dan is currently vice president of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association and was previously nominated for a position on the National Peanut Board. Ward grows about 240 acres of Virginia variety peanut on his farm. “I usually start planting peanuts in April or May when the soil temperature stays at around 65–70 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Ward. “I start preplanting tillage early creating a rich, well-prepared seedbed. Then from a farm supplier I purchase specially treated peanut kernel seed grown in the previous year’s crop. I sow the seed about two inches deep and four to six inches apart, a common Virginia-Carolina area depth.” Explains Ward, “I keep my row spacing to 36 inches to protect the crop from moving machinery damage. My entire family--wife, father and mother, plus one farm hand--run the farm. A big plus is having the right equipment to do the job.” Ward hopes for at least 200 frost-free days to ensure a good peanut crop, cultivating often to control weeds and grasses. With weather cooperating and soil nutrients just right, peanut leaves will appear about 10-14 days after the first planting. Ward follows a four year rotation pattern with corn, tobacco, corn and peanut planted on the same acreage in intervening years to prevent disease. Peanut harvest occurs in two stages--digging and curing. Digging starts when Ward has about three quarters of the pods at maturity. He also waits until the soil moisture is just right. Ward says, “ This is so the blades of my digger will operate efficiently, as I need the blades to push four to six inches into the soil, loosening the plant and cutting the tap root.” The shaker-inverter then lifts the plant from the soil, shakes the soil from the peanuts and inverts the plant, exposing the pods to the sun in a windrow. “After 2 or 3 days drying in the field, I use a combine to separate the pods from the vines, and the peanut pods go into a hopper on top of the machine,” says Ward. “The vines are returned to the field for mulch. Then I put the freshly dug peanuts into 36 peanut drying wagons.” Drying wagons have forced hot air pumped into them for several days, slowly circulating air and drying the peanuts to a moisture content of 8-10 percent, needed for safe storage. Finally, Ward’s job is done as the wagons are pulled to a buying station, like E. J. Cox Peanut Company in Clarkton. There the peanuts are weighed, graded and inspected by the Federal-State Inspection Service to determine the quality and value of the load. The peanut load then travels to shelling plants where they are sorted by size and packed for shipment to manufacturers. Ward says, “I like the challenges of peanut farming. It is similar to farming tobacco, as both of these crops require intensive crop management. However, overall farm management is becoming increasingly difficult and I look forward to reducing my operating costs and focusing on the production continued on page 6

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An Alumni Grows Peanuts in N.C.

BAE Remembers Henry Bowen...

Dr. Henry Bowen died in September, leaving BAE touched once again with the passing of a key former educator. Dr. Bowen came to BAE in 1953 after graduating from Michigan State University. Throughout his 38 year career as an educator, BAE proudly shared and enjoyed Dr. Bowen’s many accomplishments. Dr. Bowen received numerous awards for his research and teaching. A most noted award was an ASAE John Deere Medal. Bowen’s research advanced the electrostatically-assisted application of agricultural pesticides. Half a century ago, he set the standard and the direction for this technical realm, and he did it with persistence and dedication. The students Dr. Bowen taught came to know his scholarship by example. In an excerpt from a Citation of Merit by the Gamma Sigma Delta, his qualities as an educator were aptly revealed: “Dr. Bowen teaches with ingenuity, imagination, originality and perserverance; he demonstrates the “why” and “how” of engineering to pace rather than to follow...” Upon seeing a microcomputer chip he envisioned its wide use in farming, noting “it would steer a tractor and more some day.” We are glad he saw this happen in his lifetime. n

Bowen testing a tractor’s worthiness

BAE Alumni & Friends – 5

The world's largest peanut is 4 inches long and was grown by Earl Adkins in North Carolina. n The average peanut farm is 100 acres and one acre will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches. n The peanut growth cycle from planting to harvest is about five months. n Almost one-third of the U.S.A. peanut crop is used to make peanut butter each year. n Two peanut farmers have been U. S. presidents: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter. n It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter. n Peanut butter was first introduced to the U.S.A. in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis; $705 of the "new treat" was sold at a concession stand. n The patent for peanut butter was awarded to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in 1895. n Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon. n Peanuts are not actually nuts at all! They are legumes, like beans, peas, and lentils. n Americans eat 3 pounds of peanut butter per person every year. That's about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon! n Peanuts shells have found many uses. They are used in kitty litter, wallboard, fireplace logs, paper, animal feed and sometimes as fuel for power plants. Facts are n

from: n

6 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Some Peanut Facts

Peanut Mechanization

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chemical application and harvesting using computer-aided farming techniques and methods. Students are helping to test computerized farm machinery and modifying machine parts. Roberson, who has been published in Peanut Growers magazine, also provides farmers with expertise on peanut diggers and combines. Learn more at: Roberson is also experimenting with pesticide application systems. Early research on irrigation and its appropriate administration to improve crop yields and quality of peanut production started with Dr. Sneed. Currently, Dr. Gary Grabow and Dr. Rod Huffman are adding to Dr. Jordan’s information base by exploring subsurface drip irrigation systems for peanuts and cotton crops. See: http://www.bae.ncsu. edu/bae/programs/extension/wqg/grabow/sdi/ SDI_Index.htm. Peanut history information contained herein was printed with permission from the National Peanut Board. n N. C. National IPM Network –

More North Carolina Peanuts – Peanut National Peanut Research Laboratory – Information National Peanut Board – Virginia-Carolina Peanuts – American Peanut Council – Peanut Advisory Board – Georgia Peanut Commission – Peanut Farmer – Peanut Grower Magazine –

Growing Peanuts

Faculty News

side of farming. If costs are lowerd I can afford to try more of the new inputs for specific needs, such as nutrient placement, seeding rates, pesticides, etc.” Currently, Ward feels that many practices and supplies are expensive and each year he seems to have fewer buyers for his crops due to trade practices. He believes it’s important to take an active role in promoting North Carolina crop products (especially peanuts) to the world. Ward looks forward to the day when new technologies and supplies are more affordable, trade markets stabilize, and farm compensation increases to bring an equitable balance back to family farmimg. n

student from an academic institution chosen by Whitaker. Whitaker is currently working with the BAE Scholarship Committee to identify an undergraduate student in BAE. Dr. Greg Jennings has been named Associate Director of the Water Resource Research Institute. This institute is one of 54 state water institutes authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 to administer and promote federal/ state partnerships in research and information transfer on waterrelated issues. See: http://www2. Dr. Jean Spooner has been named Director of the Soil and Water Environmental Technology Center. n

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A History in Pictures from the Early 1940’s to the 70’s... View more photos at

A view of some stackpoles as they stand ready to be picked up by a wagon sled

Moving stackpoles into place for the threshing process

Farm workers moving stackpoles with horse and wagon

Placing stackpoles on the sled picker

Moving stackpoles using a tractor

Old wagon curing method 1953 Peanut puller protype

1949 Turner shaker

1954 Lilliston combine 1955 Combining from stacks after spreading

1967 Windrow combining is 1969 Windrow and stackpole a one man job when bulk handling equipment is used during the transition period

1958 Lilliston combine grain wagon

Long pull type combine

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N. C. Peanut Mechanization

In the Future... In the past, harvesting peanuts took some land, a person, a horse, and a plow... Then it took some land, a person, and a mechanical machine... Now it takes some land, a person, and a computerized “smart machine”... In the near future, indications are that the harvest process will be even more streamlined with improved reductions in harvest time and greater land yield. We may see per-plant nurturing and harvesting that is scheduled and automated. In the “Star Trek” future, growing peanuts may be landless as we invent new soil compounds, use artificial climates, and who knows how different the harvesting process may become as new bio-processes and genetic engineered foods are envisioned. In the late 1970’s, the microwave was a scary way to heat things but today most of us embrace this technology. The thought of what we might be eating in the future and how it will be grown may be a scary notion today... but we may not be able to live without it. Doubting the future? Today’s farmers feed more people with improved quality produce than ever before. The progress of change in the farming industry is speeding ever faster as the need to feed greater numbers of people looms ahead. Science and technology are being used daily to search for ways to increase production and quality without taxing the environment. Feeding the masses depends on timely, sound, innovative, yet practical science solutions and applications. n BAE Alumni & Friends – 7


Keith Edison Bowers ....................... Ph.D. Jonathan N. Britt ........................... BE Sumate Chaiprapat ........................ Ph.D. Brian M. Conner ............................ AET Stephen A. Cox .............................. AET Johnathon N. Creech ..................... AET Larry P. Renfrow .............................. BE, BME Justin T. Raymer .............................. AET Daniel B. Schreck ............................ BE Tawney A. Schwarz ........................ BE, BME Stephen K. Smith ............................ AET Ye Sun .............................................. Ph.D. James C. Tutor ................................. AET Kristen E. White .............................. BE, BME Clinton D. Williams ........................ AET

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View more graduation pictures at

Graduating students and alumni now have the opportunity to purchase a brick in the CALS walkway. To learn more see brick.html. Bricks cost: $75 to $150.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Campus Box 7625 Raleigh, NC 27695-7625

8 – BAE Alumni & Friends

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Fall 2003 Graduates

New at Weaver continued from page 4

lots of storage, new tools and a wall of student project lockers. To the right of the workbench shown below is a garage door which opens out to the parking lot. “This is great for working on larger projects,” notes Dr. Boyette. n

Thanks to GlaxoSmithKline, students are now looking forward to using a 10,000 pound rated Hydrolic Load Frame Machine.


Winter 2003 NCSU Bio and Ag Alumni and Friends Newsletter  

A Newsletter about department events and the History of Peanut Mechanization from the NCSU, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engine...

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