Science: Corn Paper

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The demonstration made in various places last week over the first publication of a book, a magazine and a newspaper* printed on paper made from corn stalks was rather perfervid. Yet enthusiasm was warranted. One to two tons of corn stover (stalks, leaves, husks) grow to an acre. Only a small percentage is good for silage. The rest rots, making a national waste of 100 to 150 million tons of good vegetable matter a year.

Last year Herbert Clark Hoover as Secretary of Commerce and William M. Jardine as Secretary of Agriculture asked Dr. George McCullough Rommel, agricultural consultant long associated with the Department of Agriculture, to study the possibilities of farmers earning money from their traditional wastes. Dr. Rommel, of course, knew that since 1765 men have known how to prepare paper from corn stalks. But such corn paper has always been more expensive than wood pulp paper. Wallboard may also be made from the stalks. His problem, and he is succeeding in it, has been to get dubious corn paper and wallboard makers to produce on a large scale and thus cheaply, to put harvester-husker-shredder-baler machines to clear farms, to persuade railroads to carry the stalks to the paper mills cheaply.

An indirect effect of this corn stalk utilization is the prevention of pesty corn borer spread. Stover rotting in the fields carries the borer over from one growing season to the next.

A direct result of Dr. Rommel's work was to get him the job of Industrial Commissioner of Savannah, Ga.

-The book: Farm Products in Industry, by Dr. George M. Rommel, Rae D. Henkle, New York City, publisher; the magazine: Prairie Farmer; the newspaper, Danville, 111. Commercial News. Magazines and newspapers were special editions. The corn paper will not continue to be used at the present time because of expense.