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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Issue: May/June 2003
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Northern PlainFacts.Northern PlainFacts image extension.

Issue: May/June 2003


The Northern PlainFacts from the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Montana, offers brief updates on research, personnel and events at the lab, and includes contact names and e-mail addresses for those interested in further details.

 

In This Month's Issue:

 

NPARL to Participate in Marketplace for Kids Event

Microbiologist Invited to Present Seminars

Scientist Aids ASM Minority Student Education

Scientist Collaborates on Assessment of Soil Quality

Scientist Provides Pest Update to Producers

Scientists to Assist Yellowstone Park Officials

NPARL’s Precision Entomological Sweep Net Drill Team Wins Judge's Award

Froid Research Farm Tours Scheduled

Entomologist Heads Up First Saltcedar Biocontrol Release in Montana

 

 

 

 

 

Microbiologist Invited to Present Seminars

Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar will travel to Florence, SC, May 13 and 14 to present seminars on her research to fellow ARS scientists at the Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center. Dr. Caesar was invited to present two seminars during her visit, the first entitled "Bioremediation of copper by fungi," and the second, "Recent advancements in the role of basidiomycetes in soil aggregation." While in South Carolina, Dr. Caesar will also discuss possible collaborative efforts with Coastal scientists who are studying the development of soil aggregation in sandy loam soils.

(TheCan Caesar-TonThat, 406.433-9415, caesart[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Scientist Aids ASM Minority Student Education

Research Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar will travel to Washington, DC, May 18-22, to attend the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. While there Dr. Caesar will also participate in the organization's Committee on Minority Education which is charged with "developing educational initiatives which promote recruiting, fostering and retaining underrepresented and under served faculty and students in the microbial sciences." Activities include sponsorship of pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, as well as round table discussions at the ASM General Meeting. During the 2003 round table, Dr. Caesar will be reporting on his activities supporting the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and new initiatives being undertaken by ASM to encourage minority students in pursuit of careers in microbiology.

(Anthony Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesara[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Scientist Collaborates on Assessment of Soil Quality

Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar will travel to Beltsville, MD, May 27-30, to meet with ARS Soil Scientist Dr. Sara Wright (Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Beltsville) on a collaborative study to quantify glomalin in the soil and show its correlation with soil-aggregating basidiomycetes, polysaccharides, total carbon and total nitrogen. Glomalin is a b inding agent or "glue" produced by endomyccorhizal fungi and is being used as a soil quality indicator. Drs. Caesar and Wright will be using soil samples generated from dryland plots under different carbon residue and management systems (till, no-till, fallow) with an emphasis on the use of green manure. The study was initiated in 1992 by ARS scientist, Joe Pikul, whose work, in part, examined the replacement of fallow management using green manure.

(TheCan Caesar-TonThat, 406.433-9415, caesart[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

 

NPARL to Participate in Marketplace for Kids Event

NPARL staffers will get their hands dirty as part of the lab’s display at the third annual Marketplace for Kids Education Day, May 9, in Williston, ND. Marketplace for Kids targets but is not limited to 4th through 6th grade students and is designed to encourage innovative thinking and problem-solving skills and to provide a showcase for young people’s ideas. Students are invited to display their inventions and problem solving projects and attend mini classes on a variety of topics. NPARL’s display booth will focus on "Soil:" What it is, what lives in it, why it’s important and how we take care of it. NPARL has participated in the Marketplace for Kids event since its inception three years ago. Marketplace for Kids is sponsored by Kent Conrad (U.S. Senator, North Dakota), Roger Johnson (North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture) and Wayne Sanstead (Superintendent of Public Instruction). Last year more than 700 students from Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana attended the event.

Scientist Provides Pest Update to Producers

Research Insect Pathologist Stefan Jaronski has started collaboration with Sidney Sugar Inc. to conduct adult sugar beet root maggot (SBRM) surveys in sugarbeet fields along a 40-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River Valley in Eastern Montana. The data that he is gathering from the 30-plus sites in 2003 and subsequent years will be used both for his own research and to aid local sugar beet producers. Under the collaboration, the data collected will be fed back to Sidney Sugar agriculturalists on a same-day basis so that they can recommend suitable actions to affected sugar beet growers. The arrangement also gives Sidney Sugar a better overall, real-time picture of this pest insect's activity in the region. For his part, Dr. Jaronski will use the information in his research centering on development of a fungal biocontrol (mycoinsecticide) of SBRM that can be transferred to industry for commercialization. Cooperating in that project are researchers at USDA-ARS, Fargo ND, North Dakota State University, Fargo ND, and Montana State University, Bozeman MT.

(Stefan Jaronski, 406-433-9486, sjaronski[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Scientists to Assist Yellowstone Park Officials

Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar and Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar are meeting with Yellowstone National Park staff this week to discuss a potential collaborative study examining the impact of intensive wildlife grazing on soil quality in certain areas of the park. Craig McClure, Chief Resource Manager at Yellowstone, requested the meeting in hopes of determining why certain bison and elk herds grazing at the base of mountains in the park are no t returning to those same sites the following year, but instead continue to move progressively up the slope. One explanation may be changes in soil quality – produced by the intensive grazing – that lead to further changes in plant community composition and forage quality. Dr. TheCan Caesar, whose work focuses on the role of fungi in soil quality and aggregation, has been asked to determine whether changes in soil fungal populations may provide an explanation, while Dr. Anthony Caesar will look at soil bacteria and plant rhizospheres for other clues. The NPARL scientists toured the impacted sites Monday to determine the feasibility of the project.

(TheCan Caesar-TonThat, 406.433-9415, caesart[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

(Anthony Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesara[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

NPARL’s Precision Entomological Sweep Net Drill Team Wins Judge's Award

NPARL’s crack P.E.S.T.S. (Precision Entomological Sweep Net Technical Specialists) Drill Team won the Judge’s top award in the "Fun" category during the annual Heritage Day Parade held in Sidney, MT, June 14. Under the expert direction of drill team originator Dr. Stefan Jarnoski, NPARL’s resident insect pathologist, the eight-member team performed a series of precision routines along the mile-and-a-half parade route including the "fancy sweep;" the "conga line;" the "reverse sweep" and the "star sweep." Team members included: Dr. Greg Sword, Dr. David Branson, Dr. John Gaskin, Deb Waters, Mark Gaffri, Jan Quanbeck and Beth Redlin. All members wore lab coats and festive antennae and sported matching sweep nets. Several family members also joined in the fun, marching along with the NPARL team wearing their own decorative antennae.

Froid Research Farm Tours Scheduled

The USDA-ARS Northern Plains Ag Research Laboratory and the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Conservation Districts and Extension Services announce this year’s Froid Research Farm Tour on Thursday, June 26. A variety of tours both on and off the farm site highlight the afternoon’s events, along with presentations on pest management and equipment and research display booths.

The event will start out at 1:00 p.m. at the Froid Research Farm with three concurrent mini-tours at off site locations including Irrigation Management, Rangeland and Noxious Weeds, and Alternative Crops. The Irrigation Management Tour will feature new IWM technology to monitor moisture in irrigated fields. The Rangeland and Noxious Weed tour will include rangeland aerator demonstrations and site examples, EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) pipeline project and a leafy spurge site being controlled by flea beetles. The Alternative Crops tour will feature non-traditional crops grown in the area and the Continuous CRP program.

The three different tours will convene at 3:00 p.m. for Alfalfa Pest Management with MSU Entomologist Sue Blodgett and Pocket Gopher and Ground Squirrel Management workshop with USDA’s Monty Sullins.

The on-site Research tour will start at 4:30 p.m. and will feature a Forage Rotation study by MSU Entomologist Andrew Lenssen, a Crop Rotation Comparison Study by Sidney USDA Ag Research Station research scientist Robert Kolberg and a No-Till Agronomic Study by Sidney USDA Ag Research Station retired research scientist Verlan Cochran.

The No-Till Agronomic Study, begun in 1982, is looking at continuous cropping vs wheat fallow and may be the oldest site with no-till plots in the northern Great Plains.

Results to date:

  • Continuous wheat has out yielded wheat fallow (over 25%) in the long term (avg. annual basis).

  • Soil organic matter in wheat fallow has decreased, no till has remained the same.

  • Water infiltration was only slightly different between tillage treatments.

  • Tillage has not affected yields or soil organic matter.

What makes these results particularly significant is that the soil at the site is a Dooley sandy loam, near the lower production limit of arable soils in this region, and thus a good test for conservation practices. This site is also part of another, larger ARS research effort, the Great Plains Soil Quality Study (GPSQS) coordinated by Brian Wienhold, ARS Lincoln, NE. A total of eight ARS locations are contributing to that study.

The Crop Rotation Comparison Study underway at the Froid Farm was established in 1997 to evaluate cropping intensity and diversity as a means of improving water use, increasing yield, returning more carbon to the soil and increasing soil organic matter on long term dryland production. Researchers also hope to show that cropping diversity will beneficially impact control of weeds and disease through increased biological diversity in the soil.

Treatments within this study have been modified to incorporate new information from other Great Plains research concerning use of cultural crop management methods for more ecologically-based management of weeds. Comparisons of these methods with more traditional practices will be made using 4-year rotations comprised of a diverse set of crops (wheat, safflower, and peas) and those based on small grains (wheat and barley).

At the conclusion of the site tours, participants can view booths featuring demonstrations of the Conservation District Stream trailer, information from Dry Prairie Rural Water and Busch Ag, displays of equipment available from local Conservation Districts, research information from Sidney ARS and more.

The day’s activities will wrap up with a free meal sponsored by Roosevelt and Sheridan County Conservation Districts. Private and Commercial Pesticide points will be given to those in attendance.

Check the Roosevelt County Extension Website at www.nemontel.net/~roosext or call the Roosevelt County Extension Office at 406-787-5312, the Sheridan County Extension Office at 406-765-3406, the Sheridan County Conservation District at 406-787-1550 or the Roosevelt County Conservation District at 406-787-5232 for more information.

(Robert Kolberg, 406.433.2020, rkolberg[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Entomologist Heads Up First Saltcedar Biocontrol Release in Montana

Research Entomologist Dave Kazmer and his support team recently released a small but hardy collection of Chinese leaf beetles (Diorhabda elongata deserticola) on the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana. Researchers hope they will help stem the rising tide of young saltcedar trees invading the area. This is the first release of Diorhabda in Montana, following a series of earlier experimental releases in Wyoming and five more southerly states. Saltcedar is an invasive species originating from Eurasia that now infests more than 1.5 million riparian acres in the U.S. A heavy water user, it contributes to saline soils and is responsible for lowering water tables and depleting standing or running water in reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers. Researchers at the Montana site will be studying Diorhabda to determine how well it can suppress new and mature infestations, and regrowth, as well as its ability to withstand predation, particularly by ants. The work represents the second stage in a multi-year, multi-state, multi-agency effort to coordinate biocontrol and other research/management activities on saltcedar. Project cooperators at the Montana and Wyoming release sites include USDA-APHIS-PPQ, USDI-BLM, USDI-NPS, USDI-FWS, Wyoming Dept. of Game and Fish, and the Bighorn Basin Exotic Plant Steering Committee.

(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

 


Last Modified: 11/9/2004