Originally Posted by phasthound
Usually hydrolysis is a chemical process in which a molecule of water molecule adds to a substance. I do not know which method is used under the patent.
We do carry a liquid corn gluten product.
I found a series of Iowa State patents. There is both corn gluten and hyrolyzed corn gluten. The hydorlysis of corn gluten is done with a series of enzymatic steps. The hydrolysis breaks the large insoluble proteins in corn gluten down into smaller peptides. This is a process similiar to how your body digests proteins in your food sources into smaller peptides so they can be adsorbed in the intestines. These extra steps coupled with the patent royalty could explain the cost (or at least most of it as I still supect there is some "green" price gouging).
The value of the hydrolyzed corn gluten is that it is soluble in water. That gives two advantages. First it can be applied with spray equipment farmers already have. Second, the hydrolyzed corn gluten dissolved in water penetrates into the soil better. The whole corn gluten which is not soluble in water stays on the soil surface and takes a long time to penetrate into the soil to interact with seeds below the surface. The disadvantage of the hydrolyzed corn gluten is that because it is soluble in water, it washes away more quickly (but at least does not harm the environment as the nitrogens is in the form of proteins and peptides). It is probably only fully active for a few weeks but of course if applied in the spring at the right time it would suffice for a big part of the lawn weed problem as addressed by pre-emergent herbicides.
After reading this I am wondering if it doesn't make sense to use both forms of corn gluten in the spring. The hydrolyzed for quick coverage of the crabgrass and other usually weed suspects and the whole corn gluten as a source of N with the added value that it should give some preemergent activity on a longer time frame.
OK I now know far more about corn gluten than I ever intended. It looks like it is expensive for a reason. But the good news is that the processes are very scalable and if the demand goes up, prices should come down.