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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Northern PlainFacts.

Issue: January/February 2009


The Northern PlainFacts electronic newsletter offers brief updates on research, personnel, and events from both the Agricultural Systems Research Unit and Pest Management Research Unit at NPARL, and includes contact names and information for those interested in further details. 
 

In This Month's Issue:

       

ARS scientist to participate in Multistate Research Project S1024 annual meeting

ARS Researcher to attend Tamarisk and Russian Olive Conference

ARS researchers participate in Camelina biofuels meeting 

ARS Plant Ecologist participates in Society for Range Management meeting

Montana ARS research featured at regional farm shows

ARS reps help judge rural science fair

Young Grain Growers tour Montana ARS laboratory

ARS scientists to speak at National Grasshopper Board Meeting

ARS Research Soil Scientist gave presentation at modeling workshop  

ARS ecologist to speak at conservation conference 

ARS ecologist to discuss weed management in dryland cropping systems 

ARS agronomist to speak at two-state sugarbeet symposium

ARS botanist to speak at ND weed association meeting and Ag Commissioner’s weed forum

ARS scientist to speak at MonDak Ag Days event


 
 
 

ARS scientist to participate in Multistate Research Project S1024 annual meeting

NPARL researcher, Dr. Stefan Jaronski will participate in the annual meeting of the Multistate Research Project S1024, titled “Discovery of Entomopathogens and Their Integration and Safety in Pest Management Systems”. Approximately twenty participants are expected at the University of California in Davis, CA during March 1 and 2, 2009 to discuss the development of entomopathogens for pest management systems, requiring multi-state cooperative research among State Agricultural Experiment Stations, USDA research groups and industry to fulfill the objectives of this project. Multistate research goals are to develop new management strategies for insect pests and implement entomopathogens for biological control of insects that directly benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. Research by the members of the group will further contribute to the greater implementation of entomopathogens as biological control agents for noxious insect pests and invasive species throughout the US. Dr. Jaronski’s research has focused on the development of a fungal biocontrol of the Sugar beet Root Maggot (SBRM) and study of grasshopper pathogens on U. S. rangeland. The SBRM research is directed towards developing a practical mycoinsecticide that can be transferred to industry for commercialization. Another area of expertise includes grasshopper studies that evaluate new technologies and new fungi for the microbial control of grasshoppers in cooperation with USDA APHIS. His development of low tech methods to mass produce some of these insect pathogenic fungi is making a worldwide impact with Jaronski teaching the methods in Republic of Georgia, Senegal, The Azores, as well as to several US researchers.. Jaronski is a member of NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit.
 
(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486, stefan.jaronski@ars.usda.gov)
 
 

ARS Researcher to attend Tamarisk and Russian Olive Conference
NPARL Research Plant Ecologist Erin Espeland will attend the 2009 Tamarisk and Russian Olive Research Conference to be held February 18-19, 2009 in Reno, NV. The conference, sponsored by the Tamarisk Coalition, Colorado State University and the Center for Invasive Plant Management, brings together tamarisk and Russian olive researchers from across the western U.S. to share their results and help identify future research needs for the development of effective, science-based policy and management guidelines for western land managers. Presentations were from all areas of tamarisk and Russian olive biology and management. The non-natives tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) occupy hundreds of thousands of acres in arid and semi-arid western North America. Millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to manage these species for reasons such as water salvage, fire hazard mitigation, wildlife habitat improvement, recreational access, and native vegetation restoration. Meanwhile, scientists across the West have been conducting research on both species, the habitats they occupy, their effects on ecosystems, control methodologies, including biocontrol, and restoration approaches. Dr. Espeland is a member of NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit, whose researchers oversaw the first release in Montana of the tamarisk biological control agent Diorhabda elongate, a Chinese leaf beetle. 
 
(Erin Espeland, 406.433.9416, erin.espeland@ars.usda.gov
  
 

ARS researchers participate in Camelina biofuels meeting
NPARL Research Agronomist Brett Allen and Weed Ecologist Andrew Lenssen were invited to participate in the first annual Sustainable Oils Camelina Agronomic Progress meeting held in Great Falls, MT Feb. 11-12. The two NPARL scientists discussed their cropping rotation research work incorporating camelina, an oilseed crop showing promise as a biofuel, along with additional research studying emergence characteristics of five Camelina varieties at different temperatures. Camelina, a relative of canola, is being considered as an alternate crop for Northern Great Plains producers because of its high oil content, its minimal water, lower inputs and its ability to be grown in rotation with wheat and other cereal crops and harvested with traditional equipment. The camelina meeting was sponsored by Sustainable Oils LLC, a producer and marketer of camelina-based biodiesel. Sustainable Oils is a joint venture between Targeted Growth, Inc., a renewable energy bioscience company based in Seattle, WA, and Green Earth Fuels, a vertically integrated biodiesel energy company based in Houston, TX. Sustainable Oils sourced the camelina used in a recent demonstration test flight by Japan Airlines using a biofuel primarily refined from camelina. Drs. Allen and Lenssen are members of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit. 
 
(Brett Allen, 406.433.9402, brett.allen@ars.usda.gov)
(Andy Lenssen, 406.433.9471, andy.lenssen@ars.usda.gov
 
 
  
ARS Plant Ecologist participates in Society for Range Management meeting

 NPARL Research Plant Ecologist Erin Espeland participated in the 62nd annual meeting of the Society for Range Management (SRM) in Albuquerque, NM Feb. 8-12. Dr. Espeland gave a presentation entitled “Retaining Evolutionary Potential in Restored Plant Populations” as part of the Vegetation Management and Restoration I symposium. Her presentation looked at research examining the role of seed source soil, planting soil, and plant-plant interactions in field experiments to measure the establishment success of new populations of dotseed plantain (Plantago erecta) and their impact on reducing low effective population sizes. SRM is the professional society dedicated to supporting persons who work with rangelands and have a commitment to their sustainable use. This year’s annual meeting theme was “Merging Trails: Culture, Science, Innovation.” Espeland is a member of NPARL’s Pest Management Unit. 
 
(Erin Espeland, 406.433.9416, erin.espeland@ars.usda.gov
  
 
 

Montana ARS research featured at regional farm shows

NPARL employees will be participating in two area agricultural trade shows in February. On Feb. 3-4, NPARL employees will staff a booth at the 56th National Hard Spring Wheat Show in Williston, ND. On display will be information on the Montana ARS lab’s dryland cropping systems research, with a focus on the use of alternative management systems and diverse rotations to help manage crop weeds. That research is being conducted by Dr. Andrew Lenssen, NPARL Weed Ecologist with the lab’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit. Also featured at the Williston, ND locale will be information on NPARL’s biological control program for wheat stem sawfly and the Mormon cricket immunology research being conducted by NPARL Research Ecologist Robert Srygley. On Feb. 13-14, NPARL will have another booth at the Glendive Agri-Trade Exhibition in Glendive, MT. That booth will feature research by NPARL Agronomist Bart Stevens looking at nitrogen application rates in strip-tilled versus conventionally tilled sugar beet under sprinkler irrigation. That research has shown that conventional fertilizer rates produced comparable yields and sugar percentages in the strip-tilled test crop. Stevens and other researchers with NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit previously demonstrated significant time and energy savings for strip tilled sugar beet since as many as five or six fewer passes were needed across the field, along with reduced environmental impacts. Their findings are now prompting producers both locally and across the region to convert thousands of acres of conventionally tilled sugar beet to strip till.

(Andy Lenssen, 406.433.9471, andy.lenssen@ars.usda.gov)

Robert Srygley, 406.433.9420, robert.srygley@ars.usda.gov)

(Bart Stevens, 406.433.9476, bart.stevens@ars.usda.gov)


 
ARS reps help judge rural science fair

even NPARL staff members, both scientists and technicians, helped judge the Rau Elementary School Science Fair held January 29 at the rural Sidney, MT, school. The judges reviewed numerous projects submitted by 3rd through 6th grade students at the school, which serves approximately 60 students from the surrounding countryside. The judges worked in teams, typically with an ARS representative teamed with another judge from the community. The judging criteria included use of the scientific method, display quality, adherence to project guidelines, effort, originality, as well as student understanding and oral communication, the latter garnered through personal interviews with the student. This year there were several experiments with plants and growth rates, along with fertilizer methods. Participating from NPARL were: technicians Mary Mayer, Paul Kaufmann, Nicole Davidson, and Laura Senior and scientists Dr. Robert Srygley, Bill Iversen and Dr. Dave Branson. NPARL staff members also typically help with preparations for the science fair by giving a presentation for students at the school several weeks prior to that year’s event, discussing the scientific method and how to set up a science experiment. All of this year’s volunteer judges are with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit, except Physical Scientist Bill Iversen, who works in the Agricultural Systems Research Unit.
 
(Robert Srygley, 406.433.9420, robert.srygley@ars.usda.gov)
(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dave.branson@ars.usda.gov)
(Bill Iversen, 406.433.9417, bill.iversen@ars.usda.gov)
 

  

Young Grain Growers tour Montana ARS laboratoryForty-two young producers toured NPARL Jan. 28, as part of the Montana Grain Growers Association’s 2009 Young Grain Growers Marketing Tour. Entitled the “Follow the Markets” tour, the group is traveling from Central Montana to Minneapolis, MN, making stops along the way at ag research and related facilities and businesses. At NPARL, tour participants heard two presentations, the first an overview of the Sidney ARS lab by Agricultural Systems Research Unit Leader Robert Evans, and the second an overview of the wheat stem sawfly biological control program and a “virtual” tour of NPARL’s new biological control containment facility, by Biological Science Technician Deb Waters. The group then followed up with tours of the rest of the ARS research facility led by Evans, NPARL Research Plant Ecologist Erin Espeland, NPARL Research Agronomist Brett Allen, and NPARL Technical Information Specialist Beth Redlin. The group then visited researchers with Montana State University’s Eastern Agricultural Research Center, which is co-located with ARS in Sidney, before completing their stay with a stop at the local Busch Ag malting barley storage facility. Dr. Allen is a member of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, while Waters and Dr. Espeland are members of the lab’s Pest Management Research Unit

(Bob Evans, 406.433-9496, robert.evans@ars.usda.gov)

(Erin Espeland, 406.433.9416, erin.espeland@ars.usda.gov)

(Brett Allen, 406.433.9402, brett.allen@ars.usda.gov)

(Beth Redlin, 406.433.9427, beth.redlin@ars.usda.gov

ARS scientists to speak at National Grasshopper Board Meeting

Three NPARL researchers will be giving presentations at the National Grasshopper Management Board meeting in Aurora, CO Jan. 27-28. They include ARS Research Entomologists Stefan Jaronski and David Branson and Research Ecologist Robert Srygley, all with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit. Dr. Jaronski will give two presentations, the first entitled “Field efficacy of a new North American Metarhizium anisopliae ‘DWR346’ for grasshoppers.” Co-researchers on the project include Scott Schell and Alex Latchininsky of the University of Wyoming, Laramie. Jaronski will also give a progress report on the “Evaluation of new fungi for Mormon Cricket management,” research he is conducting with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service researchers R. Nelson Foster, C. Reuter, and L. Black and NPARL technician Rob Schlothauer. For his part, Dr. Srygley will discuss his work in “Immune defense in grasshoppers and Mormon crickets,” while Dr. Branson’s talk is entitled “Effects of nymph-overwintering grasshoppers on survival of nymphal Ageneotettix deorum and peak biomass production.” Dr. Branson is also an elected member of the board’s Executive Committee. All three scientists are members’ of NPARL’s Pest Management Unit.
 
(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486, stefan.jaronski@ars.usda.gov)

(Robert Srygley, 406.433.9420, robert.srygley@ars.usda.gov

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dave.branson@ars.usda.gov)
 
 

ARS Research Soil Scientist gave presentation at modeling workshop

NPARL Research soil scientist Jay D. Jabro was invited to attend the 2008 collaborators meeting and also participated in the RZWQM2 modeling workshop held January 26-31, 2009 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Jabro’s presentation covered both NPARL’s irrigated and dryland agricultural systems titled “Cropping Systems Research in the MonDak Region” as part of the National Program, NP 216 (Agricultural Systems Competitiveness and Sustainability) workshop on modeling water-limited agricultural systems in the western U.S. The meeting featured research discussions, RZWQM2 model training, simulation examples, presentations on the cropping systems and experimental data from seven different locations. Attendees included twenty-five scientists and participants from a variety of states including Colorado, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. Dryland and Irrigated cropping systems for each collaborating location as well as systems common across the Great Plains were identified during this meeting for testing and validation with the RZWQM2 model. Dr. Jabro’s future plan as part of this collaboration effort is to model dryland and irrigated cropping system from NPARL unit’s four studies. Dr. Jabro was also invited to give a future presentation titled “Model Evaluation, Validation and Sensitivity Analysis” as part of a special session titled “Enhancing and Facilitating Use of Agricultural System Models in Field Research” at the ASA meeting to be held on November 1-5, 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA. This paper will also be published in a book volume of the new ASA-SSSA-CSSA series on "Advances in Agricultural System Modeling: Trans-disciplinary Research, Synthesis and Applications". Dr. Jabro is a member of the Agricultural Systems Research Unit.
 
(Jay Jabro, 406.433.9442, jay.jabro@ars.usda.gov
 
 

ARS ecologist to speak at conservation conference

NPARL Ecologist Erin Espeland has been invited to give a presentation at the California Native Plant Society's annual Conservation Conference: Strategies and Solutions, in Sacramento, CA Jan. 17-19. Dr. Espeland’s presentation, co-authored with Assistant Professor Elizabeth Leger of the University of Nevada-Reno, is entitled “Survivorship and plant-plant interactions: Effects on population evolutionary potential.” The presentation incorporates research conducted by Dr. Espeland prior to joining ARS in August 2008. The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of California's native plants and how to conserve them and their natural habitats through education, science, advocacy, horticulture and land stewardship. Espeland is a member of NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit, which focuses on solving key rangeland weed and crop pest problems.
 
(Erin Espeland, 406.433.9416, erin.espeland@ars.usda.gov

  
 

ARS ecologist to discuss weed management in dryland cropping systems

NPARL Weed Ecologist Andy Lenssen kicks off NPARL’s 2009 winter Brown Bagger Series Friday, January 16, with a presentation "Dryland cropping systems for improved productivity and weed management." Dr. Lenssen, a member of the Sidney ARS lab’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, will discuss the transition phase results of a long-term NPARL research effort (2004-2012) investigating the influence of tillage and management system interactions on four crop rotations with increasing levels of diversity. This is the seventh year for the NPARL winter Brown Bagger series, which is open to the public and features invited speakers from both within and outside ARS discussing their research efforts and results.
 

(Andrew Lenssen, 406.433.9471, andy.lenssen@ars.usda.gov)
 
 

ARS agronomist to speak at two-state sugarbeet symposium

NPARL Agronomist W. Bart Stevens has been invited to give three presentations at the 2009 Montana/Wyoming Sugar Beet Symposium, in Billings, MT Jan. 12-13. The program for the event, which is co-sponsored by the University of Wyoming and Montana State University, addresses all facets of dry bean, barley, and corn production on Monday, January 12, and sugar beet production on Tuesday, January 13. Dr. Stevens’ first presentation is on Monday and is entitled “Where does strip tillage fit in Montana irrigated crops?”, while his remaining presentations are Tuesday and include discussions on “Managing nitrogen inputs to optimize grower returns and factory efficiency,” and “Where does strip tillage fit in Montana and Wyoming sugarbeet production?” Stevens is a member of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, which has conducted extensive research into strip tillage of sugarbeet, garnering national attention. Other speakers at the symposium include researchers with the sponsoring institutions along with representatives from Western Sugar Cooperative, Monsanto, the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Montana Microbials, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and area conservation districts and Extension offices.
 

(Bart Stevens, 406.433.9476, bart.stevens@ars.usda.gov)
 
 

ARS botanist to speak at ND weed association meeting and Ag Commissioner’s weed forum

NPARL Botanist John Gaskin will give two talks this month in Mandan, ND, the first a discussion of “Genetics and Biological Control of Weeds” during the North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner’s Weed Forum Jan. 13 and the second an “Update of Saltcedar Biological Control” for the North Dakota Weed Control Association’s annual meeting Jan. 14. In the latter instance, Dr. Gaskin will discuss the status of saltcedar biocontrol research efforts being conducted by NPARL Entomologist Dave Kazmer and himself. The ND Ag Commissioner’s Weed Forum is held annually in conjunction with the state’s weed control association meeting. Dr. Gaskin is Research Leader of NPARL’s Pest Management Unit.
 

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, john.gaskin@ars.usda.gov)
 
 

ARS scientist to speak at MonDak Ag Days event

NPARL Pest Management Unit Research Leader John Gaskin was asked to present an update on the ARS research lab’s new containment facility and greenhouse complex at the 2009 MonDak Ag Days event in Sidney Jan. 9-10. The new containment facility, completed this past year, enables researchers with NPARL’s biological control of weeds programs to safely study foreign insects onsite for their potential as biocontrol agents. The capability to conduct onsite studies of promising agents will cut two to three years off the time typically needed by NPARL researchers to evaluate and release new biocontrol agents for problem weeds. In addition to Dr. Gaskin’s presentation, NPARL will also have an informational booth at the event, highlighting its Mormon cricket immunology studies and its research into nitrogen management in strip-tilled sugarbeet. In addition, the lab will provide several handouts on other research efforts underway at the Sidney facility.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, john.gaskin@ars.usda.gov)


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Last Modified: 12/17/2009