Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
October 23, 1998

Christians named inventor of the year

by Steve Jones

Nick Christians, professor of horticulture, was selected Iowa's 1998 Inventor of the Year by the Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association.

The award recognizes his discovery of the properties and uses for corn gluten meal as a natural, environmentally friendly lawn herbicide. Christians will be honored at the IIPLA annual banquet Oct. 30.

Corn gluten is a byproduct of a process called wet milling that removes starch from corn. It is used as feed material for livestock, fish and pets, and is available in very large quantities in the Midwest.

During a study of golf course greens, Christians observed that cornmeal kept grass from getting established. After several experiments, he learned that corn gluten prevents root growth.

The granular form of corn gluten meal also contains 10 percent nitrogen, so it acts as a "weed and feed" by preventing germinating weeds from taking hold and stimulating growth of established grasses and plants.

The inventor of the year award requires that the inventor have at least one patent, do most of the work on the invention in Iowa, be a resident of Iowa or have significant Iowa ties, and contribute "in a significant manner to improving life for humankind."

Christians holds three U.S. patents based on his corn gluten meal work and has one international patent pending.

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