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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Issue: March/April 2004
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Northern PlainFacts.Northern PlainFacts image extension.

Issue: March/April 2004


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:

 

Salt cedar researchers speak at weed society meeting

Grasshopper expert to speak at native plant meeting

State legislators request visit to ARS lab

Soil microbial experts to give seminar

ARS personnel help with community emergency response effort

NPARL Brown Bagger features conservation representatives

ARS personnel help certify 53 community emergency responders

ARS celebrating 50th year, National Ag Day, with grocery displays

ARS rep to speak at regional weed session

Researcher collaborating with ARS ecologist on analysis of Mormon cricket migration

ARS reps participate in “Cultivate Montana,” 1st Annual Ag Career Fair

ARS reps invited to speak at Malting Barley Irrigation Workshop
ARS leafy spurge program featured at ag journalists meeting
ARS lab to participate in “Marketplace for Kids” event

 

 

 

Saltcedar researchers speak at weed society meeting

Research Entomologist Dave Kazmer and Botanist John Gaskin were invited to speak at the 57th annual meeting of the Western Society of Weed Science March 9-10 in Colorado Springs, CO. Both weed researchers have been asked to speak during the Saltcedar Symposium, March 10. Dr. Kazmer will be giving a presentation on "Biocontrol of Saltcedar, while Dr. Gaskin will discuss "Genetics of the Saltcedar Invasion." Dr. Kazmer also contributed to another symposium presentation on the "Soil Salinity and Demographic Characteristics of Saltcedar Invasions in Northcentral Wyoming" along with Courtney G. Ladenburger and Ann Hild of the University of Wyoming – Laramie. Saltcedar ( tamarisk) is a noxious weed that infests now more than 1 million acres in the western United States. A high water user that contributes to saline soils, a mature saltcedar plant can consume up to 200 gallons of water a day.

(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Grasshopper expert to speak at native plant meeting

Grasshopper researcher Dr. David Branson has been invited to speak to the Maka Flora Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society on Sunday, March 14, at the Medicine Lake Wildlife Refuge in Northeastern Montana. Dr. Branson’s talk is entitled "Prairie plant – grasshopper associations: What plants and habitats do grasshoppers like?" Dr. Branson’s research at NPARL focuses on grazing management to reduce grasshopper outbreaks, the combined effects of fire and livestock grazing on grasshopper populations and rangeland vegetation, and the ecosystem characteristics which grasshopper herbivory to be beneficial or detrimental to rangeland production.

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dbranson[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

State legislators request visit to ARS lab

Montana state legislators, Sen. Jon Tester, Rep. Bob Bergren and Rep. Monica Lindeen, toured the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory on Tuesday, March 16, during a recent visit to the area to discuss economic development issues. The legislators had asked to visit the lab to learn more about ongoing research efforts in the area. The tour was conducted by NPARL officials Dr. Robert Evans, head of the lab’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, and Dr. Thomas Shanower, head of the lab’s Pest Management Unit. Also helping with the tour was Chemist Charles Flynn, a representative from Montana State University’s Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney, which shares office and lab space at the ARS facility. The two agencies also work cooperatively on a number of research efforts.

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Charles Flynn, 406.433.2208, cflynn[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Thomas Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Soil microbial experts to give seminar

Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar has been invited to give an informational seminar in Beach, ND on March 17 to discuss the soil fungi work she has been doing in the area for the last three years. Dr. Caesar is studying soil fungi under different dryland crop rotations using tillage and no-till farming practices. She will report on her results at the informational seminar being hosted by the Beach Field Office of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. She will be accompanied by Dr. Upendra Sainju, a new soil scientist who recently joined the Sidney ARS lab.

(TheCan Caesar, 406.433.9415, tcaesar[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

ARS personnel help with community emergency response effort

Safety Officer Jackie Couture and Location Administrative Officer Mellissa Brockes have joined with other area emergency and disaster officials to bring CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training to the Sidney area. Both Couture and Brockes participated in the first CERT training conducted in the state of Montana, as the selected representatives from Richland County, where the Sidney, MT USDA-ARS lab is located. The duo then used their training to help establish the local CERT effort, only the second in the state. Interest has been high, with 60 individuals signed up for the training to be conducted at the lab, March 19-21, and more interested in a future training. The event is sponsored by Richland County Disaster and Emergency Services, and local Citizens Corps and Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs, along with numerous other agencies contributing. The CERT training is designed to promote a partnering effort between emergency services and the people they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of their neighborhoods, community organizations and workplaces in basic emergency preparedness and response skills. CERT members may then be integrated into the emergency response capability for their area or volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community's professional response, CERT members may assist professional responders and others by applying the basic response and organizational skill that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives.

(Mellissa Brockes, 406.433.9432, mbrockes[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Jackie Couture, 406.433.9422, jcouture[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

NPARL Brown Bagger features conservation representatives

Local conservation officials Jamie Selting and Julie Goss will be giving a Friday Brown Bagger presentation at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 19. These informal (and informational) presentations on a variety of research and agriculture-related topics are held periodically at the lab during the winter months. All are open to the public.

Selting is the District Conservationist with the Sidney Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), while Goss is the Richland County Soil Conservation District Administrator. Their joint presentation is entitled “Conservation Partnership in Richland County” and will include an overview of each entity and their responsibilities, as well as highlights of their local programs. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Research to be featured in the final NPARL Brown Baggers for 2004 include studies in remote sensing, and weed biocontrol. Dates and specific topics for individual sessions will be announced in local papers. All sessions are held at noon in the lab’s tech transfer room and are open to the public.

The lab is located at 1500 N. Central Avenue in Sidney, MT. If you have any questions, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427.

ARS personnel help certify 53 community emergency responders

Altogether, 53 persons were certified under the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program held March 19-21 at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT. Two of the graduates were NPARL employees, Deb Waters and Jeannie Lassey, while two other employees, NPARL Safety Officer Jackie Couture and Location Administrative Officer Mellissa Brockes, were among the 10 emergency personnel coordinating and presenting at the event. Both Couture and Brockes participated in the first CERT training conducted in the state of Montana in fall 2003, as the selected representatives from Richland County, where the Sidney lab is located. The CERT training is designed to promote a partnering effort between emergency services and the people they serve. Under the program, emergency personnel train members of their neighborhoods, community organizations and workplaces in basic emergency preparedness and response skills, using presentations and “real life” scenarios involving volunteer “victims” made up to mimic certain symptoms. Scenarios at NPARL included seven volunteer victims. Upon completing the intensive, 20-hour, training program, CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for their area or can volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community's professional response, CERT members may assist professional responders and others by applying the basic response and organizational skill that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives.


ARS celebrating 50th year, National Ag Day, with grocery displays


The USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT has joined with local grocery stores to celebrate both National Agricultural Day, March 20, and the Agricultural Research Service’s 50th anniversary.

In a unique display designed to give area residents a glimpse into the contributions agricultural research has made to agriculture and our daily lives, Sidney and Fairview, MT grocery stores will be displaying small placards in their aisles highlighting everyday products resulting from that research.  Participating merchants include County Market, Reynold’s Warehouse and Quilling’s Market in Sidney and Super Valu in Fairview. The display will be up through Wednesday, March 24.

The distinctive grocery store displays were designed by local ARS representatives to mark the 50th anniversary of the Agricultural Research Service and its “many unique contributions to the contents of our nation’s shopping carts.” “And what better time to do it than during the nation's National Ag Day celebration," local ARS representatives noted.

In a November speech saluting the onset of the agency's 50th year, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman highlighted just a few of the things that wouldn't exist if not for the ARS, among them: DEET, the most effective mosquito repellant on the market; cotton fabrics which resist wrinkles; frozen food technology; disposable diapers, and of course, innumerable farming, ranching and resource innovations that have helped to make American agriculture the most productive in the world.

There are more than 100 ARS labs located across the country, two of them in Montana: the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney and the Ft. Keogh Range and Livestock Research Laboratory in Miles City. ARS labs are hosting numerous anniversary observations across the country during this the agency's 50th year.

The local celebration also ties in with March 20, the first day of spring and National Ag Day. It’s a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. American agriculture celebrated its first National Agriculture Day in 1973.

National Ag Day organizers note the Ag Day program believes that every American should understand how food and fiber products are produced and should value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. National Agriculture Day focuses on educating Americans about the industry, so they may also acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industries.

 

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Thomas Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)


ARS rep to speak at regional weed session

Biological Science Technician Mary Mayer has been invited to speak at the annual Hi Line Weeds Meeting to be held Wednesday, March 29 in Malta MT. Mayer will be discussing ongoing ARS research into the biological control of the noxious weed saltcedar. The Hi Line meeting brings together officials from a variety of agencies battling weeds in northeastern Montana to discuss ongoing research and management issues. Participating agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, area Weed Districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Montana Division of Natural Resources, and The Nature Conservancy. Mayer and NPARL Entomologist Dave Kazmer did the first release in Montana of Diorhabda elongata, a Chinese leaf beetle identified as the first biological control agent approved for use against saltcedar. Dr. Kazmer also oversees release sites in Wyoming. As a member of the Saltcedar Consortium, ARS participates in a number of joint research efforts on the weed with numerous local, state and federal organizations across the western United States.

(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Mary Mayer, 406.433.9426, mmayer[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

Researcher collaborating with ARS ecologist on analysis of Mormon cricket migration

Dr. Pat Lorch of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is visiting the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT the week of March 29th to follow-up on collaborative research conducted the past two summers with NPARL Ecologist Greg Sword. The two researchers are summarizing data from their 2002 and 2003 field work during which they tracked Mormon crickets, Anabrus simplex (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae), in Utah and Colorado. The scientists used a combination of radiotelemetry and harmonic radar to track individual insects within selected migratory Mormon cricket bands as they moved across the landscape. They hope to correlate band movement with local topography and weather conditions, enabling researchers to ultimately predict migratory band movement patterns. The ability to predict where migratory bands will go will allow scientists to identify specific areas that are in danger of Mormon cricket invasion and enable them to fine-tune control efforts. In addition to Dr. Lorch, the other primary collaborator on the project is Dr. Darrlyl Gwynne of the University of Toronto at Mississauga.

(Greg Sword, 406.433.9429, gsword[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

ARS reps participate in “Cultivate Montana,” 1st Annual Ag Career Fair

Representatives from the NPARL will represent the Sidney lab and ARS at the 1st Annual Agricultural Career Fair to be held at Montana State University – Bozeman on Thursday, April 1st. The event is entitled “Cultivate Montana! Employ our renewable resource.” Participating from NPARL are Location Administrative Officer Mellissa Brockes and NPARL Biological Science Technician Kimberly Mann, herself a graduate of MSU-Bozeman. In addition to NPARL, other agencies and businesses attending the event include the Farm Service Agency, the Peace Corps, Farm Bureau and Montana Department of Agriculture, among others.

(Mellissa Brockes, 406.433.9432, mbrockes[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Kimberly Mann, 406.433.9428, kmann[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

ARS reps invited to speak at Malting Barley Irrigation Workshop

Agricultural Engineer and Ag Systems Research Unit Leader, Dr. Robert Evans, and NPARL Soil Scientist Dr. Jed Waddell have been invited to speak at a Malting Barley Irrigation Workshop sponsored by Busch Agricultural Resources, Inc. in Sidney, MT. Set for Tuesday, April 6th, the workshop also features representatives from Busch Ag, North Dakota State University Extension Service, Helena Chemical Company, Gustafson Co. and the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project. During the workshop, Dr. Evans, an irrigation expert, will discuss “Water management on pivot and flood irrigation,” while Dr. Waddell will address “Nitrogen, soil and plant-available water management.”

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)
(Jed Waddell, 406.433.9402, jwaddell[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

ARS leafy spurge program featured at ag journalists meeting

Ecologist and TEAM Leafy Spurge Program Director Gerry Anderson has been invited to speak at the annual spring meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists organization to be held April 19th and 20th in Washington, DC and Beltsville, MD. Dr. Anderson will discuss the Agricultural Research Service's TEAM Leafy Spurge area-wide, integrated pest management (IPM) program and its success. The two-day event also includes presentations on another invasive weed, saltcedar, and sessions on emerging livestock health issues such as BSE and new livestock tracking technologies. The news organization represents journalists from major agricultural publications in both the United States and Canada, among them Farm Journal, Successful Farming, and Western Producer. Dr. Anderson's presentation is entitled "Ganging up on invasive weeds: The TEAM Leafy Spurge story". TEAM (The Ecological Area-wide management of) Leafy Spurge is a six-year, research and demonstration program that has successfully distributed more than 48 million biological control agents for leafy spurge across North America, as well as providing information to thousands of individuals and agencies on how to use and combine those agents with other IPM tools and techniques to manage the weed. TEAM Leafy Spurge was the first of ARS's area-wide programs to target a noxious weed, and it earned the agency's top Tech Transfer award in 2002 for successfully transferring information and tools developed under the program to the general public, landowners, land managers and policy makers.

(Gerald Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

ARS lab to participate in “Marketplace for Kids” event

NPARL staffers will participate in the fourth annual Marketplace for Kids Education Day, April 29, 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 Biological Science Technician Kimberly Mann will conduct two seminars as part of the daylong event, entitled “Alien Invaders: Plants Gone Bad” in which she discusses the problems associated with invasive weeds, how they got here and what can be done about them. NPARL will also have a booth display focusing on "Plants", the biggest, the smallest, the smelliest and more! The booth will also include material on the dangers of invasive weeds and what can be done to help stop their spread. NPARL has participated in the Marketplace for Kids event since its inception four 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). The event typically attracts between 500-700 students from Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana.

(Kim Mann, 406.433.9428, kmann[at]sidney.ars.usda.gov)

 


Last Modified: 11/9/2004
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