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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Issue: March/April 2005
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Northern Plainfacts Newsletter.

Issue: March/April 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 researchers attend sugar beet meetings

ARS reps help judge science fair

ARS researchers participate in conference

NPARL Post-Doc speaks at Brown Bagger Seminar

E-rase your our local E-cycling Event

ARS biologist collects DNA to study invasive weed
ARS microbiologist to speak at Swiss conference

ARS rep to speak at Montana weeds meeting

ARS biologist speaks at ND workshop

ARS entomologist to study grasshoppers in Hawaii

ARS representative teaches weed short course


ARS representative to teach weed management course

NPARL Biological Science technician Mary Mayer was invited to speak at a Noxious Weed Management Short Course held in Pray, Montana April 25-28. Mayer joined Gary Adams with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in leading a workshop on Biological Control of noxious weeds including knapweed, salt cedar, and toadflax. The three-day, short course program also featured presentations on herbicides and sprayers, inventory techniques, site restoration, integrated pest management methods and concepts, prevention and education. Other participating agencies and institutions included North Dakota State University, Montana State University, Yellowstone National Park, among others. Mayer is with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit.

(Mary Mayer, 406.433.9426, mmayer[at]


ARS entomologist to study grasshoppers invading Hawaiian island

Dr. Stefan T. Jaronski, an entomologist with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit, has been invited to participate in a workshop in Honolulu April 24-26 to develop a plan to control the Vagrant Grasshopper, Schistocerca nitens, on Nihoa Island near Hawaii. The workshop, consisting of grasshopper entomologists and other biologists from the U.S. and Canada, has been organized by the National Marine Sanctuary Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The mission of NOAA's Program is to serve as the trustee for the nation's system of marine protected areas, to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy. Nihoa Island, northwest of Kaua'i, Hawaii, is one of these sanctuaries. Within the past few years it has been increasingly threatened by a growing population of the locust, which first invaded the Hawaiian Islands in the mid-1960's and is currently denuding the island of vegetation, threatening a variety of endangered or rare plants and animals. The task of 16 biologists at the workshop is to examine treatment options, potential effects on target organisms, and data collection recommendations.

(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486, sjaronski[at]

ARS biologist speaks at ND invasive species workshop

NPARL Biologist John Gaskin recently participated in a regional invasive species workshop held in Bismarck, ND April 5-7. At that workshop, Dr. Gaskin gave a paper presentation entitled “Tamarix invasion history, genetics and biological control.” The workshop was organized by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ND Game and Fish Department, ND Parks and Recreation Department, ND Chapter of The Wildlife Society, USDA National Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Forest Service. The concurrent session workshop was designed to promote management and conservation of habitat while focusing on the control of noxious weeds and invasive species. Dr. Gaskin is with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

Montana ARS rep to speak at Montana weeds meeting

NPARL Biological Science Technician Mary Mayer has been invited to speak at the 2005 Hi Line Weeds Meeting in Malta, MT, on April 6th. Mayer will discuss the “Biological Control of Saltcedar” at the session. She and NPARL Entomologist Dave Kazmer are studying Diorhabda elongata, a Chinese leaf beetle, as a biological control agent for saltcedar and have overseen release sites in Lovell, WY, and at the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resources Conservation Service,  and area weed districts and Extension offices also participate in the annual weed meeting, which in addition to providing information and updates on control methods and their impacts, also discusses shared problems and resources. Mayer and Kazmer are with NPARL’s Pest Management Research Unit.

(Dave Kazmer, 406.433.9440, dkazmer[at]
(Mary Mayer, 406.433.9426, mmayer[at]

ARS microbiologist to speak at Swiss conference
NPARL Microbiologist TheCan Caesar TonThat has been invited to be a lead session speaker at the NCCR Plant Survival International Conference 2005, March 31-April 6, in Leysin, Switzerland. Dr. Caesar TonThat’s talk is entitled “Soil basidiomycetes and bacteria involved in soil aggregation: Effects of management practices and potential relationship to soil quality.” The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR)-Plant Survival is led by the University of Neuchâtel , but also includes scientists from other universities and partners from the Federal Research Stations, the Swiss Colleges of Agriculture, research institutes and extension services. Research at the Centre looks at interactions between plants and their biotic and abiotic environments from the organism to the ecosystem level. Researchers explore how results from contemporary fundamental research can be exploited for ecologically sound protection of plants in natural and ago-ecosystems, as well as for biodiversity restoration. Grapevine has been selected as the main topic of this conference.

Dr. Caesar TonThat is a member of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit.

(TheCan Caesar TonThat, 406.433.9415, caesart[at]
ARS biologist collects DNA samples for study of invasive weed
NPARL Biologist John Gaskin will be travelling to central California March 23-29 to collect DNA samples of native Lepidium species. These samples will be incorporated into a phylogenetic study comparing relationships of native and invasive species of the genus. California is a major center of native diversity for the genus, but also contains the invasive weed species Lepidium draba (commonly known as whitetop or hoary cress) and Lepidium latifolium, which are currently being investigated as biological control targets. Dr. Gaskin is with NAPRL’s Pest Management Research Unit. 

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at] 
 E-rase your local E-cycling Event

E-rase your E-waste! logo.E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life."  Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, mobile phones and fax machines are common electronic products that make up one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream.  Because of the heavy metals and other toxic substances contained in many electronic products, some states (including Wyoming) have begun to regulate their disposal in public landfills.  While Montana is not yet among them, it may not be too much longer before federal rules are developed that will requires everyone to e-cycle.  In anticipation of that event and to offer area residents and businesses concerned about the impact e-waste has on our environment the option to e-cycle, the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, the Richland County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the local Retired Seniors Volunteer Program and the Community Emergency Response Team have joined together to bring in representatives from Tatooine Electronic Systems, Inc. (an electronic recycling company from Cheyenne, Wyoming) to conduct a community-wide e-cycling event June 24-25, 2005 in Sidney.  Tatooine representatives will also be in Sidney on April 20 at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory's Technology Transfer Room at 7 p.m. to answer all your e-cycling questions prior to the June event. 


Click here for additional information and details for the June 24-25 event on the E-cycle! brochure (.PDF) 

NPARL Post-Doc speaks at Brown Bagger Seminar

NPARL Post Doctoral Research Associate James Kim, a sensor specialist with the lab's irrigation program, is the speaker at noon on Friday, March 18. His presentation is entitled “Multi-spectral Vision Technology for Precision Farming” and in it, he discussed site-specific crop management using a real-time, in-field sensor that predicts plant nitrogen stress and then applies the required amount of fertilizer. This sensor measures leaf reflectance (from directly over a crop and under natural sunlight conditions) and feeds that information back to a sprayer with a GPS record for field mapping. Preliminary studies of the sensor-based supplemental nitrogen treatment indicate that it can provide economical and environmental benefits for crop nitrogen management. The project was supported by Case Corporation.

The informal Brown Bagger Seminar series occurs often throughout the winter months and takes place at noon on Fridays in NPARL's Tech Transfer Room, located at 1500 N. Central Avenue in Sidney, MT.  The public is welcome to attend!

(James Kim, 406.433.9477, jkim[at]
ARS reps help judge science fair

Several NPARL staff members, both scientists and technicians, agreed to judge the Sidney Middle School’s Science Fair held March 8 in Sidney, MT, site of the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory. The judges will be reviewing nearly 50 projects submitted by students in the school’s advanced 6th, 7th and 8th grade science classes. Participating from NPARL are: Technicians Audrey Harris and Deb Waters; Post-Doc Cindy Fuller-Schaefer, and scientists Bill Iversen, David Branson, John Gaskin, and Tom Shanower. Iversen is with the lab’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit, while the remaining volunteer judges are with the Pest Management Research Unit. 

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dbranson[at]

(Cindy Fuller-Schaefer, 406.433.9439, cfuller[at]

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

(Audrey Harris, 406.433.9484, aharris[at]
(Bill Iversen, 406.433.9417, biversen[at]
(Tom Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]


ARS researchers participate in conference

NPARL Agronomist Bart Stevens, Agricultural Engineer Robert Evans and Soil Scientist Jed Waddell attended the Western Nutrient Management Conference in Salt Lake City, UT, March 3-4. In addition to serving as the program chair for the event, Stevens also presented a poster entitled “Zinc sulfate applied to sugar beet using broadcast, seed-placed and foliar methods.” Coauthor with him was A. O. Mesbah with the University of Wyoming. Stevens, Evans and Waddell are all members of NPARL’s Agricultural Systems Research Unit.

(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496, revans[at]

(Bart Stevens, 406.433.9476, bstevens[at]

(Jed Waddell, 406.433.9402, jwaddell[at]

ARS researchers participate in national sugar beet meetings

NPARL Research Plant Pathologist Robert T. Lartey and Research Entomologist Stefan Jaronski were invited to participate in the 2005 General meeting of the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, March 2-5 in Palm Springs, CA. At the session Dr. Lartey gave a presentation entitled “Additional evidence of Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) as an alternate host to Cercospora beticola.” In his presentation, Dr. Lartey highlighted recent research as the Sidney, MT, ARS facility which confirmed the presence of C. beticola in lesions of infected safflower and substantiated safflower as a host of C. beticola. Safflower is increasingly being evaluated for rotation with sugar beet, but Dr. Lartey’s research shows there can be serious disease problems associated with that rotation. NPARL Microbiologist TheCan Caesar and Technician Neoma I. Sol contributed to the research along with Dr. Soumitra Ghoshroy of the Department of Biology at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. For his part, Dr. Jaronski presented a poster entitled “Metarhizium anisopliae for biocontrol of sugarbeet root maggot: Constraints and Challenges.” Co-authors on the poster included NPARL technicians Julie A. Grace and R. J. Schlothauer. In addition to their attendance at the ASSBT meeting, Drs. Lartey and Jaronski also participated in a Mar. 1 National Sugar Beet Research Program Review, held in conjunction with the ASSBT meeting. The day’s events included research updates by ARS scientists from across the country along with presentations from sugar beet industry representatives and growers regarding needs and problems they would like to see addressed. 


(TheCan Caesar, 406.433.9415, caesart[at]

(Julie Grace, 406.433.9430, jgrace[at]

(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486, sjaronski[at]

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

(Rob Schlothauer, 406.433.9431, rschlothauer[at]

(Neoma Irene Sol, 406.433.9492, nsol[at]



Last Modified: 9/24/2008
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