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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Issue: January/February 2005
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Issue: January/February 2005

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:

ARS Plant Pathologist named to editorial board

ARS scientists to speak at Weed Control meeting

ARS scientist to speak at Forage Workshop

ARS researchers edit new book on plant health

New edition of Grasshopper Management CD

ARS scientist to participate in food expo

ARS scientists speaks at MonDak Ag Days event

ARS scientists to reports grasshopper research

ARS botanist works with Argentine researchers

ARS Soil Scientist gives Brown Bagger seminar

ARS irrigation specialist invited to workshop

ARS Mormon cricket research featured in "Nature" magazine

ARS scientist, technician host Solid Substrate Fermentation Workshop

ARS Mormon cricket research featured in "Nature" magazine

NPARL Ecologist Gregory Sword's research into Mormon cricket bands, their formation and movement, is featured in a Brief Communications article in the Feb. 17th edition of Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals. Working with Sword were Dr. Pat Lorch of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Dr. Darryl Gwynne of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Their study showed that flightless Mormon crickets form large mobile groups, called migratory bands, as a means of protecting themselves from their predators.  Similar processes have already been shown in herding animals, for example, but had not been previously demonstrated in migratory band-forming insects. The study involved using small radio transmitters to track individual insects within and outside large Mormon crickets bands which have been plaguing the western US the past three summers. The researchers found that a 50-60% of the insects that left a band were killed by predators within two days of departure, while all of the insects remaining in the band survived.  

(Greg Sword, 406.433.9429, gsword[at]


ARS scientist, technician host Solid Substrate Fermentation Workshop

Photograph of NPARL's Julie Grace with the scientists that attended the Solid Substrate Fermentation Workshop.NPARL Research Entomologist Stefan Jaronski and Biological Science Technician Julie Grace are hosting a Solid Substrate Fermentation Workshop for ARS scientists from related programs Feb. 16 - 18 at the Sidney ARS facility. The focus of the workshop is growing and harvesting methods for the fungi Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anispliae. Participants include Dr. Jerrod Leland, Stoneville MS; Dr. Denny Bruck, Corvallis OR; Dr. David Shapiro bar-Ilan, Byron GA; and Mr. Neil Lamb, Shafter CA. Over the course of the three-day workshop, the researchers will learn techniques developed by Grace and Jaronski for mass production of the insect pathogenic fungi, Beauveria bassiana and Metarizum anisopliae, particularly in quantities sufficient for field trials. In addition to the workshop, Grace has developed a short how-to manual illustrating the techniques discussed during the workshop.  Click here to download The Art of Fermentation.PDF (2.7MB)

(Julie Grace, 406.433.9430, jgrace[at]
(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486, sjaronski[at]


ARS Plant Pathologist named to journal’s editorial board

NPARL Plant Pathologist Robert T. Lartey has accepted an invitation to join the editorial board of the “Plant Pathology Journal,” a quarterly publication of ANSInet Publishing, a highly-respected, independent science and technology publisher with global reach. ANSInet’s publishing program covers a wide range of scientific disciplines, including agriculture, the plant and animal sciences, environmental management and applied sciences. Dr. Lartey joins other scientists from around the world as a member of the publisher’s technical editorial board. A specialist in the fields of Biological Control and Tobamoviruses, Dr. Lartey recently co-edited a new book entitled “Emerging Concepts in Plant Health Management, 2004” with fellow NPARL Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar. A member of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, Dr. Lartey is currently studying biological control of crop diseases including Cercospora Leaf Spot in sugar beets and Fusarium Head Blight in wheat and barley. 

(Robert T. Lartey, 406.433.9490, rlartey[at]

ARS scientists invited to speak at Montana Weed Control Association meeting

NPARL Entomologist Dave Kazmer and Ecologist Gerry Anderson have been invited to speak at the 2005 Montana Weed Control Association annual meeting in Helena, MT, Jan. 24-26. In addition, Research Entomologist Tom Shanower, research leader of NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit (PMRU) will participate in a round robin “Agency Talk” at the meeting to provide an update on ARS weed research in Sidney. Dr. Shanower is also a member of the state Noxious Weed Trust Fund Council, which meets Monday prior to the start of the MWCA session. Drs. Kazmer and Anderson, speaking Wednesday, are also members of the PMRU. Dr. Kazmer is giving two talks at the session, the first on the “Biological control of Saltcedar” and the second on “Hybridization and Seed Viability in Saltcedar,” while Dr. Anderson is discussing “Biocontrol of Leafy Spurge.” Also attending the meeting will be NPARL Biological Science Technician Mary Mayer. In addition, the Sidney ARS lab will have a trade show booth at the event featuring its saltcedar and other weed control efforts. 

(Gerry Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]
(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]

(Mary Mayer, 406.433.9426, mmayer[at]

(Tom Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]

ARS scientist invited to speak at Forage Production Workshop

NPARL Weed Ecologist Andy Lenssen, a member of the lab’s Pest Management Research Unit, participated in a series of Forage Production Workshops held in four northeastern Montana communities Jan. 17-20. Dr. Lenssen discussed “Improved weed, water and nutrient management of annual dryland forage crops” at each of the sessions held in Glasgow, Circle, Plentywood and Sidney, MT. The event was sponsored by the Montana State University Extension Service and included additional presentations on annual forage production, managing insect pests and nitrate levels in forages, and more by MSU Extension specialists in forages and integrated pest management. The Sidney workshop was held Jan. 20th at NPARL in its Technology Transfer Room. 


(Andy Lenssen, 406.433.9471, alenssen[at]

ARS researchers edit new book on plant health management

Photograph of book entitled NPARL Plant Pathologists Robert T. Lartey and Anthony J. Caesar are co-editors of a new book just published by Research Signpost of India entitled “Emerging Concepts in Plant Health Management, 2004.” The 300-page, hard cover publication includes 14 articles under four, broad categories of plant health management issues including: Public Policy; Disease Forecasting, Detection and Characterization of Pathogens; Ecology and Environmental Modification, and Disease, Insects and Weeds Control. In addition to editing the manuscript, Dr. Lartey also contributed an article to the book entitled “Novel considerations in biological control of plant pathogens: Microbial interactions” which he co-authored with Dr. Kenneth E. Conway of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK. Also contributing to the book was Dr. TheCan Caesar, an NPARL microbiologist and co-author with Dr. Brent A. Holtz (University of California – Davis) of an article entitled “Wood chipping almond brush to reduce air pollution as a sustainable alternative to burning that enhances soil quality and microbial diversity.” Drs. Lartey and T. Caesar are with NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, while Dr. A. Caesar works with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit. The book is available for purchase from the publisher by sending an e-mail to ggcom[at] or admin[at] citing the name of the book, volume number, the required number of copies and the purchaser’s name and mailing address. The website address is


(Anthony J. Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesart[at]
(Robert T. Lartey, 406.433.9490, rlartey[at]

New edition of popular Grasshopper Management CD now available from ARS


The second edition of the popular “Grasshoppers: Their Biology, Identification and Management” CD-Rom is now available from NPARL. The updated edition includes a new electronic key for common adult grasshoppers, more than a dozen new grasshopper identification keys and field guides, updated decision support software, new management based research information, and new grasshopper and Mormon cricket survey/forecast maps. The CD-ROM and its companion website were produced by NPARL and are a joint technology transfer project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the University of Wyoming-Laramie. The CD, edited by NPARL Research Entomologist David Branson and Technical Information Specialist Bethany Redlin, is free. To order a copy, please e-mail your request to hoppercd[at] Include your name and mailing address. You can also write or call in your request to the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Box 463, Sidney, Montana 59270; 406-433-2020, or sign-up on the Internet site at ARS has already distributed more than 5,000 copies of the original 2001 version of the CD, all by request to individuals and organizations from across the U.S. and around the world. Production of this 2nd edition was done by NPARL with additional funding for duplication provided by USDA-APHIS.

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dbranson[at]
(Bethany Redlin, 406.433.9427, bredlin[at]




ARS scientist invited to participate in regional food manufacturing expo

Dr. Robert Evans, Research Leader of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, has been invited to participate in the Northwest Food Manufacturing and Packaging Expo in Portland, OR, Jan. 16-19. The invitation was extended by the Williston (ND) Area Development Foundation, a participant at the trade show event for the past 10 years. Dr. Evans, an irrigation specialist, has been asked to discuss ARS research programs and partnerships in Sidney with expo attendees and identify possible collaborative research efforts with organizations in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Food Manufacturing and Packaging Exposition is the largest regional food manufacturing trade show in the nation, featuring more than 450 exhibits of machinery, services, supplies and technology, and attracting more than 3000 attendees in 2004. The annual event is sponsored by the Northwest Food Processors Association, with 486 member companies including 86 food processors and nearly 200 production facilities.

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]

ARS scientists to speak at MonDak Ag Days event

NPARL Soil Scientist Jed Waddell and Agricultural Systems Research Leader Robert Evans have been invited to speak at the 2005 MonDak Ag Days in Sidney Jan. 14-15. Dr. Waddell leads off the program with a discussion of a joint research effort with Busch Ag and Montana State University studying irrigation and nitrogen management in malting barley. Dr. Waddell will present results of various nitrogen application rates on malt barley quality and yields from this past growing season. In his presentation, Dr. Evans will provide an update on lab activities for the event, including discussion of a major new cropping systems research experiment in the area and updates on ARS’s Nesson Valley irrigation research efforts. In addition to the speakers, NPARL will have an informational booth at the event, highlighting its Pest Management research Unit’s biological control program and a sustainable pest management in wheat study in the Agricultural Systems Unit. In addition, the lab will provide several handouts on other research efforts underway at the Sidney facility.

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]

(Jed Waddell, 406.433.9402, jwaddell[at]

ARS scientists to report on research at National Grasshopper Board meeting

NPARL Research Entomologist David Branson and Ecologist Greg Sword have been invited to speak at the 2005 Annual Grasshopper Management Board Meeting in Aurora, CO, Jan 11-12. Dr. Branson, a member of the board’s Executive Committee, will give two talks at the event and participate in a three-way discussion of “Integrated Pest Management of Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Populations” with representatives from the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs. His other presentations include a discussion of the (just released) “Grasshopper Management CD-ROM, 2nd edition” which he co-edited, and a talk on the “Effects of rangeland fire on grasshopper populations in the northern Great Plains.” The latter is from a paper he coauthored with Dr. Sword and fellow ARS researcher Dr. Lance Vermeire, a rangeland ecologist with ARS’s Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, MT. Dr. Sword’s presentation at the meeting is entitled “Can migratory band movement patterns be predicted?”

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dbranson[at]

(Greg Sword, 406.433.9429, gsword[at]

ARS botanist collaborates with Argentine researchers on noxious weeds

NPARL Botanist John Gaskin will be traveling to Argentina Jan. 10 for a two-week stay to collect specimens from noxious weed invasions of Tamarix spp. (saltcedar), Chondrilla juncea (rush skeletonweed), and Lepidium draba (hoary cress). Dr. Gaskin will conduct genetic analyses of the specimens to look at population structures of Argentina and USA invasions. The goal is to compare invasion histories in different regions, and apply this knowledge toward future biological control efforts. This work is being done in collaboration with Argentinian researchers Sergio M. Zalba (GEKKO Grupo de Estudios en Conservación y Manejo; Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia; Universidad Nacional del Sur; Bahía Blanca, Argentina) and Ricardo Luis López (Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria INTA; Estación Experimental Bordenave; Bordenave, Argentina). Dr. Gaskin is with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit and works in its biological control of weeds program.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

ARS Soil Scientist gives Brown Bagger presentation at NPARL 


YOU'RE INVITED! the latest in our NPARL 2004-2005 Brown Bagger seminars at noon, Friday, Jan. 7. Bring your lunch and join us in the Tech Transfer Room for the latest in this season's series of informal presentations by local researchers and others. NPARL Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju is our speaker this session and his presentation is entitled “Biculture legume-cereal cover crops for enhanced biomass yield and carbon and nitrogen” and reflects cover crop research he did in Georgia prior to accepting his position the Sidney ARS laboratory in early 2004. Cover crops are being studied because they can improve soil and water quality by increasing soil organic matter and reducing nitrogen leaching. In particular, legume cover crops can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, thereby reducing N fertilizer requirements and increasing yield of the succeeding crops, while nonlegume cover crops are effective in increasing soil organic carbon and nitrogen concentrations and reducing N leaching. If you know of anyone else that might be interested in this presentation, feel free to forward this message. For those new to the lab, the address is 1500 N. Central Avenue in Sidney, MT.

(Upendra Sainju, 406.433.9408, usainju[at]

ARS irrigation specialist invited to speak at Extension workshop


NPARL Agricultural Engineer and Irrigation specialist Dr. Robert Evans has been invited to give two presentations January 6th at a North Dakota State University Extension Service irrigation workshop entitled “Maximize Your Pivot Dollars.” Dr. Evans, research leader with NPARL’s Agrticultural Systems Research Unit, will discuss “Overall Pivot Management” and “Malt Barley Irrigation Management” at the workshop to be held at the Williston Research Extension Center in Williston, ND.

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]


Last Modified: 9/24/2008
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