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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Issue: September/December 2002
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Northern PlainFacts.Northern PlainFacts image extension.

Issue: September/December 2002

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 Host Grain Growers, Teachers In October

Scientists to Participate in ASA-CSSA-SSA Annual Meeting

Entomologist To Speaks AT Saltcedar Field Day

Ecologist Invited To Give Seminars In Canada

Scientists Host Western Region Biological Control Meetings

Ecologist To Serve As Science Advisor For Desert Locust Project

ARS Mormon Cricket Research Attracts International Interest

Microbiologist Identifies Beneficial Fungi In Join Grazing Study

Agronomist To Meet With WA State Researchers On No-Till Seed Drill

Scientists To Participate In IOBC Biocontrol Symposium

Researchers To Meet In Switzerland On Cardaria Biocontrol Efforts

Technicians To Give Saltcedar Presentation At Producers Meeting

Technician To Discuss "Pioneering Naturlaists" and Invasive Weeds

Insect Pathologist To Present Seminar To IR4 Staff

Techs Invited To Speak At State Noxious Weed ID Workshop

Scientists To Participate In ESA Annual Meeting

Fungal Genetics Expert To Speak At NPARL

Scientist to Give Seminar on Fungi at University of Geneva, Switzerland

Scientists and Technician Will Participate in the Bio-Control Committee meeting in Bozeman

TEAM Leafy Spurge Releases "How-To" Manual on Leafy Spurge Herbicide Control

New Invasive Weed Video/Multi-Species Grazing CD available from TEAM Leafy Spurge




The Montana Grain Growers Association’s (MGGA) 28-member Board of Directors will tour NPARL, Monday, October 7, as part of its Fall Board Meeting to be held at the Sidney, MT laboratory in its new Technology Transfer Conference Room. The Montana Grain Growers Association is a commodity organization representing the interests of wheat and barley growers across the state. In addition to its work on other issues of importance to its members, MGGA has been instrumental in promoting research efforts on small grains projects, including sawfly research. Also in October, elementary and secondary education teachers from across Eastern Montana will tour NPARL as part of Education East, an annual, two-day, teacher in-service program. As part of that tour, NPARL scientists from both the Pest Management and Agricultural Systems Research Units will give presentations on their research. Tour participants will also hear from scientists with Montana State University’s Eastern Agricultural Research Center, which shares facilities with USDA-ARS in Sidney.


NPARL Research Agronomist Robert Kolberg and Soil Scientist Verlan Cochran will be participating in the 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 10-14. The meeting is being held jointly with the Soil Science Society of America and the Crop Science Society of America. The theme for the plenary session is "Uniting Sciences: Solutions for the Global Community" with Dr. Clayton Yeutter, former Secretary of Agriculture and former U.S. Trade representative, as the keynote speaker discussing the role of agriculture and agricultural scientific endeavors in the global economy. For his part, Dr. Kolberg will present a poster entitled "Crop sequence comparisons of a diverse rotation in the Northern Plains," which will discuss crop production on a rotational level using three crop sequences, with different insertion points for legumes in each sequence. Dr. Cochran’s poster, entitled "Synchronization of N mineralization from green manure with N uptake by spring wheat," looks at the ability of green manure (grown in place of summer fallow) to adequately supply nitrogen for succeeding grain crops without the use of additional nitrogen fertilizers and without impacting grain yield or quality. In his poster presentation, Dr. Cochran notes that it has taken 3 cycles of green manure-wheat rotation (6 years) to build up the soil organic nitrogen to the point where nitrogen fertilizer is no longer needed to maintain yields comparable to wheat grown after summer fallow and receiving 30 lbs. of nitrogen fertilizer.

(Robert Kolberg, 406-433-9408, rkolberg[at]

(Verlan Cochran, 406-433-9402, vcochran[at]


NPARL Research Entomologist Dave Kazmer has been invited to speak at a Tamarisk Workshop July 16-18 in Lewistown, MT. Dr. Kazmer will discuss "Current Research in Tamarisk Control" on Tuesday, July 16. The workshop is intended to improve communication and information sharing on tamarisk; identify best management practices and areas and resources at greatest risk; refine the Montana tamarisk distribution map, and support development of a statewide tamarisk management plan. The three-day workshop and field trip is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, MSU Fergus County Extension Service, the Fergus County Weed District, the Montana Department of Natural Resource Conservation and the Bureau of Land Management. Tamarisk, or saltcedar, is an aggressive Eurasion shrub which was originally used as an ornamental and for erosion control but has since invaded thousands of acres in the Western US. It has been designated one of the 10 worst weeds in the United States.

(Dave Kazmer, 406-433-9440, dkazmer[at]


NPARL Research Ecologist Gregory Sword has been invited to give two seminars in Canada in September. The first is at the University of Toronto on September 18. There Dr. Sword will give a seminar entitled "The Evolutionary Ecology of Locust Swarm Formation." His second seminar is scheduled for September 20 at the University of Toronto – Mississauga. In that presentation Dr. Sword wi ll discuss "Patterns of Grasshopper Herbivory, Plasticity and Warning Coloration."

(Gregory Sword, 406-433-9429, gsword[at]


Drs. David Kazmer, John Gaskin and Tom Shanower of the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory will be attending the annual meeting of the W-185 multi-state research project on biological control of arthropod pests and weeds in Boulder, CO on October 2-3, 2002. The W-185 project, sponsored by USDA-CSREES through the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, is one of the largest (17 states, 100+ members), longest-lasting (35+ years), and most productive regional projects in the country. Dr. Kazmer is 2002 chairperson for the W-185 project and is responsible for organizing the scientific and business meeting agendas as well as making local arrangements. He also led the effort to successfully renew the project for five additional years. Dr. Gaskin will be presenting a paper, "Genetics of Saltcedar Introductions," as part of a panel discussion on evolution in biological control systems. Dr. Ernest "Del" Delfosse, ARS National Program Leader for Weed Science, will also make a presentation on biological control research activities in USDA-ARS.

(Dave Kazmer, 406-433-9440, dkazmer[at]

(John Gaskin, 406-433-2020, jgaskin[at]

(Tom Shanower, 406-433-9405, tshanower[at]


NPARL Ecologist Dr. Gregory Sword will be traveling to Mauritania October 15-30 to serve as a Scientific Advisor on a project entitled "The Biogeography of the Desert Locust" carried out by the Centre de Lutte Antiacridienne, the Mauritanian agency in charge of locust management. The project is funded in part by the USDA-ARS-OIRP (Office of International Research Projects) and USAID. In addition to providing technical advice, Dr. Sword will also be conducting field research to determine if Desert Locust host plant preferences change as a result of changes in their population density. This study will help determine the importance of specific locust-host plant ecological interactions in the development of locust outbreaks.

(Gregory Sword, 406-433-9429, gsword[at]


An NPARL research project tracking the movements of Mormon crickets in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado this past summer has attracted a lot of media attention, including an interview with "Wiedza i Zycie," (a Polish science magazine) to be published in October. The tracking project, which employed a combination of 0.5g radio transmitters and a harmonic radar system to track the movements of individual Mormon crickets within migratory bands, was a joint collaboration between NPARL Research Ecologist Gregory Sword and two Canadian researchers, Drs. Pat Lorch and Darryl Gwynne (University of Toronto at Mississauga). GPS coordinates of the tagged insects were recorded daily to quantify individual movement patterns across the landscape. Individual insect movement s will be correlated with environmental variables such as weather conditions and topography in GIS analyses to develop predictive models of migratory band movement. These models will improve the accuracy and efficiency of Mormon cricket control operations and decrease non-target impacts. Other media reporting on the research included television stations KTVX (ABC) and KSL-TV (NBC) in Salt Lake City, and the cable channel, Tech TV (click here). Radio interviews requested included segments with KALL 910 in Salt Lake City ; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s "Quirks and Quarks," and "Techno Bytes" from Johannesburg, South Africa’s 710 Talk Radio. The "Deseret News" in Salt Lake City (click here) and "Nature Science Update" (click here) also had reports on the research this past summer.

(Gregory Sword, 406-433-9429, gsword[at]


NPARL Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar-TonThat and Range Scientist Lee Manske at North Dakota State University’s Dickinson Extension Research Center have "discovered a beneficial group of fungi associated with roots of grass plants managed with the twice-over grazing system," according to a recent report in NDSU Agriculture Communication. The technique used to detect and quantify the previously unknown organisms was developed by Dr. Caesar-TonThat. In their study, Manske and Caesar-TonThat found that grazing native rangeland in rotational periods coordinated with grass growth stages (as occurs under twice-over grazing systems) stimulates fungus activity that improves the soil structure. The fungi enhance soil structure by excreting adhesive substances that bind soil particles into water stable aggregates, leading to increased soil oxygenation, water infiltration, and root distribution while decreasing soil erodibility. These improvements, in turn, contribute to increased herbage production.

(TheCan Caesar, 406-433-9415, caesart[at]


 NPARL Agronomist Robert Kolberg will be traveling to Pullman, WA, Oct. 21 to meet with University and ARS scientists and a farmer/dealer in the area to view the "Cross-Slot" no-till seed drill. Dr. Kolberg is traveling with scientists and Extension personnel from North Dakota State University's Dickinson Research Center in Dickinson, ND. Designed in New Zealand, this low disturbance grain drill is relatively new to commercial agriculture in the U.S. The group is interested to see the drill in operation and discuss its potential use in the Great Plains. They will be visiting sites near Pullman and the dryland research center at Lind.

(Robert Kolberg, 406-433-9408, rkolberg[at]


NPARL Entomologist Tom Shanower and Postdoctoral Research Associate John Gaskin will be traveling to Montepelier, France Oct. 14-16 to participate in the third IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) International Symposium. Co-organized by IOBC, the International Centre for Biological Control Agropolis (C.I.L.B.A.) and the Agropolis: International complex for research and higher education in agriculture, Montpellier - France, the symposium, will address recent developments in genetics and evolutionary biology, and their relevance to biological control. USDA-ARS is also a sponsor of the event. For his part, Dr. Gaskin will be giving a presentation entitled "Hybrid Tamarix widespread in U.S. invasion and undetected in native Asian Range." The discussion will highlight the importance of molecular systematics in biological control. Specifically, allopatric Tamarix species have been imported to the U.S. and been given their first opportunity to hybridize. Any novel hybrids would have no evolutionary history with proposed biological control agents. In this and many other systems, molecular methods are the only way to determine identities and origins of invasive plants and their current population structures in their U.S. and native ranges. Dr. Shanower will be presenting a poster in collaboration with colleagues M.C. Bon, C. Hurard, and K. Hoelmer, all of ARS’s European Biological Control Laboratory in France, and W. Morrill of Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. The poster is entitled: "Genetic demarcation of the North American wheat stem sawfly populations, Cephus cinctus Norton, revealed by molecular markers," and reports findings reinforcing the hypothesis that wheat stem sawfly has evolved toward different developmental behaviors according to the locations that likely coincide with the susceptible phonological stages of winter wheat.

(Tom Shanower, 406-433-9405, tshanower[at]

(John Gaskin, 406-433-2020, jgaskin[at]


NPARL Research Entomologist Tom Shanower will be traveling to Switzerland Oct. 11-13 to meet with Dr. Matthew Cock, Director of the CABI Bioscience Switzerland Center in Delemont to discuss collaborative efforts in the biological control of invasive weeds, especially Cardaria, or whitetop, also known as hoary cress. Hoary cress (Brassicaceae: Cardaria draba (L.) Dsv.) is an important pest of rangeland, alfalfa, other field crops, and vegetable crops. It is also, a reservoir of beet western yellows and potato leaf-roll viruses, which are important pests world-wide of peaches, potatoes, sugar beets, and many other crops. Presently, hoary cress is reported to occupy more than a quarter of a million acres on public and private land, include federal lands managed by BLM and the USFS in six states: California, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah. In North America, it is included on the noxious weed list of fourteen states and one Canadian province.

(Tom Shanower, 406-433-9405, tshanower[at]


NPARL Biological Science Technician Mary Mayer will give a presentation on saltcedar, Tamarix, as part of the Tongue River Basin Producers meeting Oct. 21-22 in Ashland and Ingomar, MT. As part of her presentation, Mayer will discuss the weed’s biology, its invasive characteristics, and promising new biological control measures. Mayer is one of five scheduled speakers representing ARS, the Tongue River Basin Weed Control Group, Dow AgroScience, and BASF. The other speakers will be talking about "Range and Pasture Management," "CBM what affects will it have on weeds," "Herbicide Product Update" and "Vegetation Study."

(Mary Mayer, 406-433-9426, mmayer[at]


NPARL Biological Sciences Technician Kim Mann will give a presentation Oct. 21 to approximately 125 elementary and junior high students at Fairview School in Fairview, MT. She will discuss the many plant and animal species new to Western science that were identified by "pioneering naturalists" Lewis and Clark during their epic journey in the early 1800s. As part of the presentation, Mann will also discuss what Lewis and Clark didn’t find – large infestations of invasive weeds – and how they have dramatically changed the landscape since the Corps of Discovery first crossed the continent. Mann, who works with the biological control of weeds program at NPARL, will have several samples of native plants, along with invasive weed species, on hand to illustrate her talk.

(Kim Mann, 406-433-9428, kmann[at]


Research Insect Pathologist Stefan T. Jaronski will be presenting a seminar to the IR4 headquarters in New Brunswick NJ, October 26, 2002. His seminar is entitled, "Commercialization of Microbial Insecticides, Tales from the Crypt (of Ag Biotechnology)." His talk will a personal retrospective view of the obstacles to widespread adoption of microbials and the pitfalls in the commercialization process, based on Dr. Jaronski's 17 years of involvement in the commercialization of mycoinsecticides, previous to his joining ARS. The main purpose of his visit is discussing coordination of an Experimental Use Permit application for a new mycoinsecticide with the IR4 staff.

(Stefan Jaronski, 406-433-9486, sjaronski[at]


NPARL Biological Science Technicians Mary Mayer and Kim Mann have been invited to speak at a Noxious Weed ID workshop being sponsored by the Montana Department of Agriculture in Glendive, MT on Wednesday, Oct. 23. The workshop is one of three being held across the state as part of the department’s Agricultural Plant Pest, Agricultural Animal Pest and Agricultural Dealers Pesticide Recertification Training program. For their part, Mayer and Mann will discuss spotted and diffuse knapweeds, respectively, supplying information on the plants’ origins, life cycles, key identifying features, economic impacts and control/management options. Other topics to be covered in the general pesticide training include how to prevent back-siphoning, reduced drift with spray adjuvants, groundwater and pesticides, and what users need to know about respirators. The day-long training targets commercial and governmental applicators licensed in the state.

(Mary Mayer, 406-433-9426, mmayer[at]

(Kim Mann, 406-433-9428, kmann[at]


Three NPARL researchers will be participating in the 50th Annual Entomological Society of America Meeting to be held Nov. 17-20 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Research Entomologist Tom Shanower is co-organizing a formal conference in conjunction with the annual meeting. Entitled "International cooperation in the biological control of invasive pests: Bright future or glorious past?", the conference focuses on the international dimensions of pest management with particular emphasis on biological control of invasive species and new programs, partnerships and emerging issues on the international scene. Co-organizer of the event is Dr. Gary Bernon of USDA-APHIS Otis Plant Protection Laboratory in Cape Cod, MA. A sampling of topics include: the significance of international partnerships between the U.S. and South Africa; international cooperation and conflict in biological control, and new needs and opportunities arising from concerns regarding food security and biotechnology. Also attending the ESA meeting from NPARL is Research Entomologist Dr. Stefan Jaronski who will present a poster entitled, "Enhancement of Beauveria bassiana against grasshoppers with vegetable oil carriers" that he coauthored with A. V. Chernysh, Scott P. Schell, and Jeffrey A. Lockwood of the University of Wyoming. Jaronski and his collaborators have discovered that certain vegetable oils, attractive to grasshoppers, can increase the efficacy of the Beauveria fungus. Now, the scientists are coupling the fungus with a canola oil carrier and applying it to alternate strips of land to determine whether the mixture can be effective under field conditions. At the entomology meeting, Jaronski will also be serving as a judge of student presentations, and participate in meeting of the Nearctic Section of the International Organization for Biological Control, of which he is a board member. NPARL’s third participant at the session is Research Ecologist Greg Sword, who will present a poster entitled, "More trouble for grasshopper molecular systematics: Intra-individual variation in both mitochondrial and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences."

(Tom Shanower, 406-433-9405, tshanower[at]


Dr. Joan Henson, an expert on fungal genetics with the Department of Microbiology at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, will give a seminar on "Fungal Laccases" on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 10:00 am at the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT. Dr. Henson is visiting at the Sidney ARS lab from Nov. 12-14 to work on a collaborative project with NPARL Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar on detection of fungal melanin using monoclonal antibodies. This research will add to the understanding of the role of melanin in the secretion of extracellular compounds, such as enzymes by fungi.

Scientist to Give Seminar on Fungi at University of Geneva, Switzerland

Research Microbiologist TheCan Caesar has been invited to give a seminar entitled "Recent advances in the functions of basidiomycete fungi" at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, on December 5. The invitation was extended by Professor Francois Barja of the Department of Botany and Plant Biology, whose research currently emphasizes adhesion of fungi to host plants. Dr. Caesar's work focuses in part on adhesion of basidiomycete fungi on soil particles. Prior to giving her seminar, Drs. Caesar and Barja will meet to discuss and share various techniques for using dyes for vesicles transport in confocal scanning laser microscopy. While in Switzerland, Dr. Caesar is also scheduled to meet with Dr. Roget Pezet at the Federal Station of Research in Agronomy at Changins, Nyon, to collaborate on research examining biodegradation of cercosporin (the toxin in Cercospora leaf spot of sugar beets) and related compounds using fungal laccase.

(TheCan Caesar-TonThat, 406.433-9415, caesart[at]

Scientists and Technician Will Participate in the Bio-Control Committee meeting in Bozeman

Research Entomologist Dave Kazmer, Postdoctoral Research Associate John Gaskin and Biological Science Technician Mary Mayer will participate in the Bio-Control Committee meeting of the Montana Weed Control Association on Dec. 10 in Bozeman, MT. On the agenda are update reports on biocontrol insects and plants; the use of pathogens for biocontrol; changes in the approval process for biocontrol agents; an APHIS update, and monitoring and field day reports. The group will also be establishing a plan of action for 2003.

(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]

(John Gaskin, 406.433.2020, jgaskin[at]

(Mary Mayer, 406.433.9426, mmayer[at]

TEAM Leafy Spurge Releases "How-To" Manual on Leafy Spurge Herbicide Control

TEAM Leafy Spurge announced the release Monday of the third "how-to" manual in its integrated pest management (IPM) resource series on leafy spurge control. "Herbicide Control of Leafy Spurge" is a 40-page, easy to read booklet, whose small size makes it practical for field use. The manual covers the basics of leafy spurge management, including a summary of the weed’s characteristics, herbicide overviews, sprayer calibration techniques, and the economics of herbicide use. The manual also presents useful IPM strategies incorporating herbicides with other control tools. Developed by TEAM Leafy Spurge, the manual was authored by leafy spurge herbicide expert Dr. Rod Lym of North Dakota State University-Fargo (NDSU) and coauthored by Dr. Chad Prosser of Theodore Roosevelt National Park-Medora, ND; Celestine Duncan of Weed Management Services-Helena, MT; Dr. Dean Bangsund of NDSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics, and Dr. Gerry Anderson, TEAM Leafy Spurge Program Director, with the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, MT. The manual is available free from TEAM Leafy Spurge by contacting the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory at P.O. Box 463, Sidney, MT 59270; or by phone or e-mail at 406-433-2020; fax 406-433-5038; teamls[at] TEAM Leafy Spurge is a six-year, Area-Wide Research and Demonstration project funded by USDA-ARS and managed cooperatively with USDA-APHIS.

(Gerald Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]

New Invasive Weed Video/Multi-Species Grazing CD available from TEAM Leafy Spurge

TEAM Leafy Spurge announced the release of two new informational products Monday, including a new documentary entitled "Purging Spurge: Corralling an Ecological Bandit," which was produced in partnership with North Dakota’s Prairie Public Broadcasting, Inc. The 30-minute documentary focuses on grassland health and the impact of invasive weeds like leafy spurge on the ecosystem. Its aim was, and is, to increase public awareness and to bring all segments of society on board to help control invasive weeds. After debuting on North Dakota’s Prairie Public Television on Tuesday, June 25, 2002, videotapes of the documentary are now being distributed to weed and pest workers across the Western United States and are available to the public while supplies last. TEAM Leafy Spurge’s second new product is entitled "Multi-species Grazing and Leafy Spurge" and is the second CD in TLS’s informational resource series which pairs "how-to" manuals targeting individuals with CDs intended for larger audiences. This latest CD includes an electronic version of its companion manual, a photogallery, a narrated PowerPoint presentation, an extended bibliography, TEAM Leafy Spurge Posters, publications and other resources for incorporating sheep grazing into a weed management plan. This latest CD also includes thirteen in-dept reports from North Dakota State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics on leafy spurge, grazing management, economic concerns, and land manager perceptions. Both the VHS video and the grazing CD are available free from TEAM Leafy Spurge by contracting the Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory at P.O. Box 463, Sidney, MT 59270; or by phone or e-mail at 406-433-2020; fax 406-433-5038; teamls[at]

TEAM Leafy Spurge is a six-year, Area-Wide Research and Demonstration project funded by USDA-ARS and managed cooperatively with USDA-APHIS.

(Gerald Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]


Last Modified: 11/10/2004
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