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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Michael Ralphs
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Poisonous Plants Research Lab

1150 E 1400 N

N Logan, UT 84341    








     PhD      1983     Range Science (Grazing Management); Texas A&M University

     MS       1977     Range Economics; Utah State University

     BS        1973     Range Science; Utah State University



Sheep grazing cattle before larkspur

 Sampling locoweed for population studies

  Crooked calf grazing lupine         

 Cattle grazing broom snakeweed as a biological control


Research Projects

  • Evaluate grazing behavior of cattle with respect to poisonous plants: larkspur, locoweed, lupine, broom snakeweed
  • Target livestock grazing to control poisonous and noxious weeds
  • Evaluate herbicide and biological controls of poisonous plants
  • Assess ecology and population cycles of poisonous plants
  • Determine environmental influences on toxin concentrations in plants
  • Provide management recommendation to reduce risk of poisoning and enhance sufficient use of rangelands


Significant Accomplishments

  • Developed herbicide control recommendations for larkspur, locoweed, and lupine
  • Developed management recommendations to reduce risk of locoweed poisoning
  •  Developed biological tools to reduce risk of poisoning:
  •  Larkspur mired to deter grazing of larkspur

  • Sheep grazing larkspur before cattle 

  •  Conditioned food aversion

  • Seed cool-season grasses to prevent reinvasion of loco and snakeweed and provide alternative feed

  • Described snakeweed seedling ecology that drives its population outbreaks

Last Modified: 8/11/2016
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