News from NPARL
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2015 - June
Sidney MT ARS stakeholder group to hold summer meeting
On June 25, the Customer Focus Group of the USDA-Agricultural research Service’s Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT, will hold its regular summer meeting immediately prior to the start of the annual Froid Research Farm Field Day. The 75-plus member group is comprised of farmers and ranchers, ag industry and organization representatives and federal state and local government and agency officials. The group meets twice a year in June and November to get updates on research projects and other activities underway at the Sidney lab and to provide input for existing and future research efforts. On occasion, member producers also provide land for studies.
Sidney, MT ARS participates in annual Froid Research Farm Field Day
On June 25 the 2015 Froid Research Farm Field Day kicks off with a special hour-long “Drones 101” workshop designed to acquaint tour goers with the basics of the machines, including flight demonstrations and potential applications in agriculture. The event is co-sponsored by the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney, MT; the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Conservation Districts and the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Extension offices. Also speaking that day are ARS Research Insect Ecologist Tatyana Rand and Research Insect Pathologist Stefan Jaronski, who will discuss their respective research on wheat stem sawfly, a serious pest of wheat in the Northern Plains. ARS Botanist John Gaskin will provide an update on Canada thistle biocontrol research and ARS Research Agronomist Brett Allen will present two talks, one discussing oilseed and cover crop mixes as fallow replacements in 2-year durum rotations, and the other looking at seeding depths and starter fertilizer for cover crop mixes. ARS Research Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju will follow up with his work looking at nitrogen rate impacts on root distribution of perennial grasses. Also planned for the afternoon are presentations on the new “E3” farm energy audit program by Richland County (MT) Extension Agent Tim Fine, a presentation on pea leaf weevil management by Montana State University’s Eastern Montana Research Center Superintendent Chengci Chen, and a demonstration of a rainfall simulator by Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives Mark Henning and Tom Beck in honor of the United Nations’ International Year of Soils. The afternoon’s activities conclude with a free steak supper sponsored by the Conservation Districts.
ARS lab hosts impromptu tour for MT Farm Bureau group
On June 11, about 35 members of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation participated in an impromptu tour of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Montana as part of its “Energizing the Grassroots” statewide summer conference held in Sidney June 9-11. The lab stepped in to fill a gap created when rain restricted access to a local coal mine that had been on the group’s original tour schedule. Three Sidney ARS scientists had already been invited to speak to the group about their research the day before, but the last minute tour allowed for additional presentations on Mormon cricket research conducted by ARS Insect Ecologist Robert Srygley and wheat stem sawfly research being conducted by fellow Research Insect Ecologist Tatyana Rand. Both insects under study are serious agricultural pests in several western states. Farm Bureau members also viewed the facility’s molecular laboratory and biocontainment facility, both integral tools in the its search for biological controls for invasive weeds and insect pests, a major mission component of the Pest Management Research Unit at the Sidney location.
ARS scientist invited to discuss best nutrition management practices for fruit tree orchards in China.
On June 15 through July 2, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Soil Scientist Ashok Alva, of the Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Sidney, MT, will visit the Liaoning Institute of Pomology-Yingkou City, and the China Agricultural University-Beijing. Dr. Alva is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the areas of nutrient and irrigation best management practices for fruit trees and vegetables, and sensor technologies for automated soil water measurements in soil profiles. His visit to China, sponsored by the Liaoning Institute and China Agricultural University, will include a review of fruit nutrition and best management practices for fertigation in pear and apple orchards at the Liaoning Institute, as well as reviewing grower practices in local orchards to suggest options for improving nutrient and water use efficiency. Alva will then visit the China Agricultural University in Beijing where he will observe and advise students on their research work and visit field experiments.
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2014 - May
ARS scientist to speak at Global Soil Security Symposium.
On May 19-21, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju, of the Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Sidney, MT, will attend the Global Soil Security Symposium at Texas A&M University to give a presentation on “Cover crop effects on soil carbon and nitrogen under bioenergy sorghum crops.” His talk is set for May 20, at 11:10 am and is open to all registered participants. This specialized international conference is co-sponsored in part by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, in partnership with several universities and professional organizations. The conference addresses five dimensions of soil security: Capability--the intrinsic capacity of a soil to produce products and ecosystem services; Condition--the current state of the soil, including modification by human activities; Capital--economics of soil services to Health, Environment and Food production; Connectivity--the social connection of soil managers and custodians and users of soil products and services to the soil (and to each other); and Codification -- Policy frameworks: identification of policies that degrade soil security and those that secure soil.
2015 - April
ARS Reps Celebrate Earth Day with 900 K12 Students
Sidney, MT ARS Biological Science Technician Kimberly Mann and Safety/Occupational Health Specialist Jackie Couture celebrated Earth Day in late April with more than 900 students ranging from preschool through high school from all across the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana. The Earth Day festival was established by Vina Smith, the environmental educator for the Fort Peck Tribes, 16 years ago and features hands-on presentations by area agencies and organizations on a variety of environmental topics. Students from schools on the reservation and neighboring schools are all invited to attend. The Sidney, MT ARS lab has been participating as an exhibitor at the event for the past four years. This year’s two-day celebration featured nine different stations set up in the Poplar and Wolf Point (MT) High School gyms with hands on lessons on weather, weeds, fish and more. For their part, Mann presented information to students on the biological control of weeds and insect pests, in particular natural measures to manage wheat stem sawfly and leafy spurge, while Couture discussed natural insect repellants with the kids, including how to make their own from different citrus fruits, sage and other plants. Among the other agencies participating were the Natural Resources and Conservation Service; the Bureau of Land Management; the National Weather Service, Fish, Wildlife and Parks and more.
Sidney, MT ARS Scientist Named to Editorial Post
Dr. Erin Espeland, a Research Plant Ecologist with the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT, has been named to the editorial board of the journal Ecological Restoration, a publication of the Society for Ecological Restoration and the University of Wisconsin Press. In welcoming Dr. Espeland to the post, journal officials noted her “expertise will greatly enhance the journal’s impact on the field.” Dr. Espeland’s research focuses on establishment, genetic identity and evolutionary potential of restored native populations in the face of biological invasions. This research includes the role of competition on restoration success, the role of genetic identity and maternal effects on the establishment of restoration materials. She is also tracking whole-ecosystem recovery after weed removal and restoration. “Ecological Restoration” is a forum for people advancing the science and practice of restoration ecology. It features the technical and biological aspects of restoring landscapes, as well as collaborations between restorationists and the design professions, land-use policy, the role of education, and more. This quarterly publication includes peer-reviewed science articles, perspectives and notes, book reviews, abstracts of restoration ecology progress published elsewhere, and announcements of scientific and professional meetings.
ARS Scientists to participate in European Geosciences Union General Assembly.
ARS scientists will join thousands of international participants at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly held in Vienna, Austria from April 12-17, 2015. The General Assembly includes Union Symposia, Interdivision Sessions, Educational and Outreach Symposia, as well as oral, poster, and interactive content sessions on disciplinary and interdisciplinary topics covering the full spectrum of the geosciences and the space and planetary sciences. Two ARS scientists from Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT will contribute their research findings throughout the 5-day event.
ARS agronomist Brett Allen will make a poster presentation on April 17th, 5:30-7:00 pm, titled, “Water Productivity of Stacked and Alternate-Year Rotations under Conventional and Ecological Management”. Allen is the lead author along with colleagues Andrew Lenssen, Iowa State University, and fellow ARS scientists Jay Jabro, Bill Iversen, and Upendra Sainju who are also members of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit (ASRU).
ARS soil scientist Jay Jabro will make a poster presentation on April 17th, 5:30-7:00 pm, titled, “Water Use and Water Use Efficiency of Winter and Spring Camelina in Northeastern Montana” which focuses on a study researching renewable jet fuel from oilseed and both Drs. Allen and Jabro are investigators. In addition, Dr. Jabro will co-convene three sessions using both oral and poster format held on separate days of April 14th, 8:30-10:00 am; 15th, 10:30 am-12:15 pm; and on the 17th, 3:30-5:15 pm. Each session’s posters will be presented on their respective day 5:30-7:00 pm.
ARS Scientist to participate in National Native Seed Conference. ARS ecologist Erin Espeland will make a presentation at the third National Native Seed Conference in Santa Fe, NM from April 13-16, 2015. This national conference, sponsored by the Native Seed Network, Institute for Applied Ecology in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, presents an opportunity to participate in panels, workshops, field trips, and an open forum on seed genetics, biology, collection, production, cleaning, storage, and other related plant materials.
Dr. Espeland will make a presentation titled “The effect of seed production farms: intra-cultivar differences in performance depend on storage and planting environments” on April 15, 2015.
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2015 - March
Sidney, MT ARS co-sponsors Pipeline Reclamation Workshop in Bakken
Oil and gas development in the Bakken brings with it lots of benefits, but also occasional headaches for area landowners. Appropriate reclamation practices for disturbed soils, truck and pipeline spills and other issues generate lots of questions from landowners. Knowing what to do if things go wrong was the focus of the 2015 “Pipeline Reclamation Workshop 2” held in Sidney, MT on March 31. The USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney, MT was a co-sponsor of that workshop which included presentations on oil, gas and saltwater spills and leaks and their cleanup; ongoing and new reclamation research into soil remediation following brine spills and using reclamation to improve agricultural productivity and battle weed invasions; reviews of spills and water quality studies in the area, and stream migration impacts on pipelines. Speakers included pipeline representatives from the Bridger/Belle Fourche Pipeline Company and Montana’s Disaster and Emergency Services (DES), who discussed the January 27 pipeline break and oil spill into the Yellowstone River and the cleanup measures taken afterward. Information on pipeline safety was presented by Don Johnson of the Montana Liquids and Gas Pipeline Association, with Fairview, MT area rancher and Northeast Montana Land and Mineral Owners Association president Dennis Trudell providing a landowner’s perspective and highlighting the need for more landowner information on what to do when things go wrong on their land. Other presenters included representatives from the National Weather Service, and the Richland County DES and Soil Conservation District offices. For their part, Sidney ARS scientists, Research Plant Ecologist Erin Espeland and post doc Merilynn Schantz, discussed new research efforts underway at NPARL looking at the ecological impacts of oil and gas development and how to use reclamation to improve agricultural productivity, as well as a new study designed to identify and reduce weed invasion by developing successful seeding technologies for pipelines at risk for invasion. Dr. Aaron Daigh of North Dakota State University in Fargo also discussed his research on effective brine spill remediation options and how long they might take before reclamation is complete. In addition to ARS, other workshop sponsors included the Richland County (MT) Extension, the Richland County Disaster and Emergency Services and the Natural Resources Conservation Service offices. This is the second pipeline workshop coordinated by the Sidney ARS lab. The first was also held in Sidney in March 2013.
It’s a small world after all - Former ARS Connections Aid Student
Devin Dragswolf, an environmental science student at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND, had a problem. Her final research was ready to go, but she had no lab space to do the work. The fungus she was working with, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as Bd or the amphibian chytrid fungus, was considered too dangerous for use in the existing labs at UTTC. But luckily for Devin, an instructor in her department and former ARS technician, Julie Stock-Porter, knew just the person to call, her old boss, Dr. Stefan Jaronski, a research entomologist / insect pathologist at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT. He had the proper lab space and could also provide additional guidance as needed. Jaronski readily agreed to the arrangement and Devin made several trips to Sidney in late April to complete her research work. Without his help, she noted, “I’d still be at square one. I can’t thank him enough.” Devin, a member of the Three-Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation, will be continuing her studies this fall at the University of Arizona where she plans to major in ecology and evolutionary biology.
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