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Issue: May/June 2004
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Northern PlainFacts.Northern PlainFacts image extension.

Issue: May/June 2004

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:


Scientists to participate in regional weed biological control meeting
Lab to host BLM Resource Advisory Council
Scientist to search for plant pathogens in Hungary

Scientists to participate in national microbiology/mentoring meeting

BLMreps discuss joint projects in visit to Sidney, MT, ARS lab

Swissmolecular biologist to give seminar at NPARL

Entomologistinvited to give grasshopper workshop

Rep invited to present noxious weed identificationclass
Busch Ag lab techs tour ARS research facility inMontana

Botanistto compare DNA of overseas Tamarix to US genotypes
ARSrep conducts informational purchasing workshop

ARSresearchers to expand GPFARM to include Eastern MT and Western ND data

ARS'TEAM Leafy Spurge wins FLC Honorable Mention

Soilscientist invited to speak at Georgia universities

AgriculturalResearch Service (ARS) Scientist to Attend Entomological Meeting

Montana ARS researchers to participate in farm Field Day

ARS'TEAM Leafy Spurge program wins 2004 Secretary's Honor Award





Scientists to participate in regional weed biological control meeting


NPARL representatives will be participating in a regional Interagency Biological Weed Control Meeting hosted by the Montana State Office of the Bureau of Land Management on May 6th in Billings, MT. Attending from the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT are Drs. Tom Shanower and John Gaskin. Dr. Shanower, an entomologist, heads up the Sidney lab's Pest Management Research Unit, and Dr. Gaskin, a botanist, is investigating the systematics and biological control of noxious weeds. The BLM meeting pulls together federal, state and university representatives to review weed biological control work in the state and to examine possibilities for cooperative efforts. In addition to ARS and BLM, other federal agencies participating include the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

(Thomas Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]

Lab to host BLM Resource Advisory Council

NPARL will host the quarterly meeting of the Eastern Montana Resource Advisory Council of the Bureau of Land Management at the Sidney, MT, ARS laboratory on May 6, 2004. As part of its quarterly meeting, the council and BLM field managers and representatives from the Billings and Miles City, MT offices will tour the facility and meet with individual scientists upon request to discuss weed and pest issues. In addition to the lab visit, members will be touring other public sites in the area, in particular the recently completed Yellowstone Missouri Confluence Interpretive Center located at the confluence of the two rivers just across the North Dakota border. There they hope to learn more about what issues may arise from planned construction of BLM's own new interpretive center at Pompey's Pillar near Billings, MT. Resource Advisory Councils were created in 1995 to advise the BLM on land management programs and issues. Each RAC consists of local residents who represent three broad interest categories: commodity interests, non-commodity interests, and government/academic interests. RAC members are chosen by the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Governor of the state in which they serve.

Scientist to search for plant pathogens in Hungary

NPARL Research Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar will travel to Hungary and Austria May 6-18, 2004 to collect Uromyces scutellatus samples. U. scutellatus is a rust of the noxious weed leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula, and is being studied as a potential biocontrol agent for that weed. Joining him will be fellow Plant Pathologist Dr. Tim Widmer, Acting Lab Director of the USDA / ARS - European Biological Control Lab in Montpellier, France. The samples collected will be taken to the quarantine facility at Montana State University - Bozeman for further study to help determine at what developmental stage the rust will successfully infect leafy spurge in the U.S. In addition to sample collections for leafy spurge biocontrol, Drs. Caesar and Widmer will also be looking for promising pathogens for use against another noxious weed, whitetop or hoary cress.

(Anthony Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesara[at]

Scientists to participate in national microbiology/mentoring meeting

NPARL Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar and NPARL Microbiologist TheCan Caesar will be attending the 104th general meeting of the American Society of Microbiology to be held in New Orleans, LA, May 23-27, 2004 and have been invited to meet with minority and women students at the event who are interested in mentors in the field. Dr. Anthony Caesar is a member of ASM's Minority Education Committee, which helped plan the mentoring event. That committee will also meet during the general session to discuss results from the previous year's outreach and mentoring activities and to plan for additional outreach efforts in the coming year. The Society's scientific program in New Orleans will feature nearly 300 individual colloquia, symposia, roundtable discussions, award lectures, and poster sessions. Topics include advances and controversies in clinical microbiology and epidemiology, pathogenesis and host defense, general and applied microbiology, microbial physiology, environmental microbiology, molecular biology and virology.

(Anthony Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesara[at]
(TheCan Caesar, 406.433.9415, caesart[at]

BLM reps discuss joint projects in visit to Sidney, MT, ARS lab

Bureau of Land Management representatives from the Billings, MT regional office toured the USDA-ARS lab in Sidney May 19-20, 2004 to discuss ongoing and future collaborations with NPARL scientists. Participating from the Billings state office were Hank McNeel, BLM weed and pest coordinator for Montana; Bill Volk and Vic Roberts, BLM biological weed control coordinator for Montana. The trio met with scientists from NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit to discuss ongoing and future biological control efforts against saltcedar, hoary cress and other noxious weeds, as well as other range and soil health issues. ARS and BLM have cooperated on weed biological control research and implementation since the mid-1980s.

Swiss molecular biologist to give seminar at NPARL

Dr. Hannes Richter from the Federal Research Station for Plant Protection, Switzerland will be giving an invited seminar Wednesday, June 2 at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT. The title of his presentation is "The expression of the stilbene synthase gene family in response to downy mildew grape interaction." Dr. Richter is a plant molecular biologist specializing in resistance of grape to mildew (Plasmopara viticola), in particular the molecular biology of pathogenesis- and resistance-related proteins. He is collaborating with NPARL's Agricultural Systems Research Unit on its "Soil Quality and Grapevine Resistance to Fungal Diseases" project and will be meeting with scientists from that unit during his visit to the Sidney, MT lab.

Entomologist invited to give grasshopper workshop

NPARL Research Entomologist Dr. David Branson has been invited to give a special Grasshopper Management Workshop to members of the Prairie County Grazing Association in Terry, MT, on Wednesday, June 2. The event is sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management. Dr. Branson will discuss preventative management of grasshoppers, as well as the pest's general biology and means of identification. Dr. Branson and his colleagues at NPARL represent the largest collection of scientists working on grasshopper research in North America. As part of his research, Dr. Branson has been studying the impact of various grazing regimens on the outbreak potential of pest grasshopper populations.

(Dave Branson, 406.433.9406, dbranson[at]

Rep invited to present noxious weed identification class

NPARL Biological Science Technician Kimberly Mann has been invited to lead the Noxious Weed Identification segment of a four-county, annual training workshop for county weed supervisors and their crews. Approximately 35-40 participants are expected to participate in the workshop to be held June 2 in Circle, MT. In addition to Mann's noxious weed identification presentation, participants at the workshop will receive training in pesticide safety, application techniques and more from a variety of presenters.

(Kim Mann, 406.433.9428, kmann[at]

Busch Ag lab techs tour ARS research facility in Montana

The USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory hosted a two-day training session for 15 Busch Ag Resources lab technicians in its Tech Transfer Room on June 2-3. As part of that session, NPARL Pest Management Research Leader Thomas Shanower and NPARL Agricultural Systems Research Leader Robert Evans provided the group with a tour of the Sidney, Montana ARS facility on Thursday, June 3. Busch Ag Resources built a malt barley loading facility in Sidney in 2003.

Botanist to compare DNA of overseas Tamarix to US genotypes

NPARL Research Botanist John Gaskin will be traveling to Greece, Bulgaria, and Russia June 7-22. In Greece and Bulgaria he will be collecting DNA from specimens of Tamarix to compare with US invasive genotypes. This is potentially out of the native range of US invasive Tamarix species, but the area is the source of the biocontrol agent Diorhabda elongata., which has shown success as a biocontrol agent against the US species. This collecting will be in cooperation with Javid Kashefi, USDA Thessaloniki, Greece. In Russia, Dr. Gaskin will be surveying the northern range limits of Tamarix ramosissima in order to compare DNA from these accessions with US invasive Tamarix ramosissima genotypes. Climate matching models between areas on both continents that share the invasive genotypes will be used to infer potential spread of T. ramosissima into Canada.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

ARS rep conducts informational purchasing workshop

In an effort to aid area merchants interested in doing business with the Federal Government, the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT is hosting two special workshops Tuesday, June 8, to acquaint interested parties with changes in existing rules for doing business with federal agencies. NPARL Purchasing Agent Linda Tewalt will conduct the informational sessions which will provide guidelines on the new registration process required for doing business with the federal government. The registration process affects those doing more than $2,500 in business and are part of new rule changes that went into effect last October.

(Linda Tewalt, 406.433.9420, ltewalt[at]

ARS researchers to expand GPFARM to include Eastern MT and Western ND data

Soil Scientist Jed Waddell and Aide Henry Council from the Sidney lab's Agricultural Systems Research Unit will meet with Drs. Laj Ahuja, research leader, and Gale Dunn, soil scientist, at the Great Plains System Unit in Ft. Collins June 9 to develop a collaborative effort to test and evaluate the use of GPFARM version 2.6 in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota. GPFARM was developed to provide users with a source of information to assist them in evaluating farm and ranch management options and in making decisions regarding the profitable use of the land they manage. The GPFARM Information System includes information regarding: Crops and crop management; Range and pasture management; Livestock production; Soil, water, and nutrient management, and Pests and pest control. The numerous sources of information integrated into the software include agricultural databases, research and extension fact sheets, and other pertinent commercial, state, and federal sources. For his part, Dr. Waddell will be working with the Great Plains Unit scientists to collect and evaluate data from Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota for incorporation into the GPFARM software.

ARS' TEAM Leafy Spurge wins FLC Honorable Mention

A national consortium of federal laboratories has presented the Agricultural Research Service's TEAM Leafy Spurge program with an Honorable Mention at its annual Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer program held in San Diego, CA on May 5. The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) award recognized TEAM Leafy Spurge for its excellence in the "Dissemination of Effective, Affordable, and Sustainable Leafy Surge Management Technologies." TEAM, (which stands for The Ecological Area-wide Management of) Leafy Spurge, a six-year research and demonstration project begun in 1997, has distributed more than 48 million biological control flea beetles; traveled more than 250,000 miles to give 100 plus presentations, and produced more than 20 informational products, including brochures, CD-ROMs, manuals, newspaper articles and a PBS documentary. These informational products have reached a huge audience, with close to 45,000 copies of its most popular product - a "how-to" manual on the biological control of leafy spurge - distributed in the U.S. and Canada. The program was funded by ARS; headquartered at the ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, MT, and managed cooperatively with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The FLC is a nationwide network of federal laboratories organized in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationwide. More than 700 major federal laboratories and centers and their parent departments and agencies are FLC members including NASA and the Departments of Defense and Energy.

(Gerald Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]

Soil scientist invited to speak at Georgia universities

Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju was invited to speak to faculty, staff and students at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, GA, Wednesday, June 2. Dr. Sainju, a member of NPARL's Agricultural Systems Research Unit, discussed "Rhizoma peanut and perennial weeds influence on soil carbon and nitrogen pools." In addition to that presentation, Dr. Sainju is also participating in an Energy and Agriculture Utilization Symposium at the University of Georgia, Athens, on June 10-11. His presentation there is entitled "Management Practices on carbon sequestration in cotton and sorghum."

(Upendra Sainju, 406.433.2020, usainju[at]

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Scientist to Attend Entomological Meeting

Entomologist Thomas Shanower, Research Leader with NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit, is heading up a Symposium entitled "Progress Towards IPM of Wheat Stem Sawfly" at the 88th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America in Bozeman, MT June 20-23. Dr. Shanower and Dr. David Weaver with the Department of Entomology at Montana State University-Bozeman, are co-organizers and moderators for the June 22 symposium. Dr. Shanower's research focus at the Sidney ARS lab is on the classical biological control of the wheat stem sawfly, in conjunction with Drs. Kim A. Hoelmer and Marie-Claude Bon, both with the USDA-ARS European Biological Control Laboratory, Campus International de Baillaguet, Montferrier-sur-lez, France. Dr. Shanower will present an update on the trio's research progress during the ESA symposium.

(Thomas Shanower, 406.433.9405, tshanower[at]

Montana ARS researchers to participate in farm Field Day

NPARL researchers are among the featured speakers at the 2004 Froid Research Farm Tour to be held Thursday, June 24 at the Eastern Montana farmsite. Participants from NPARL's Agricultural Systems Research Unit and their topics include: Weed Ecologist Andy Lenssen, Forage rotation study; Soil Scientist Jed Waddell, Phosphorous effects on nitrogen fixation by peas; Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju, Nitrogen and carbon pooling in soils; and Microbiologist TheCan Caesar, Soil aggregation. Also participating in this year's tour will be Montana State University Cropland Specialist Fabian Menalled; MSU Extension Entomologist Sue Blodgett, Montana Salinity Control representative Jane Holzer and Wolf Point (MT) Drug Prevention Taskforce representative Ron Kemp. Topics they will address include: alternative crops and their importance in crop rotations, saline seep, and methamphetamine prevention. The tour will also visit the Dry Prairie Rural Water construction site and the Dane Valley Saline Seep Project. The afternoon will conclude with a steak supper sponsored by the Roosevelt and Sheridan County Conservation Districts. The research center was created by the Sheridan and Roosevelt County Conservation Districts to educate local farmers and keep them updated on current agricultural research in the area. The USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory and Montana State University currently conduct research on the site.

ARS' TEAM Leafy Spurge program wins 2004 Secretary's Honor Award

The Agricultural Research Service's TEAM Leafy Spurge program was named a recipient of a U. S. Department of Agriculture 2004 Secretary's Honor Award for exemplary service and achievement. The Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards given by USDA and the winners represent outstanding service in many fields, including stewardship of natural resources, scientific research, disease control, environmental innovations, educational outreach, emergency response to disasters, food safety, farm and food program delivery, trade and export development and rural economic development. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman will present the award to TEAM Leafy Spurge Group Leader Dr. Gerald Anderson at a ceremony on Friday, June 25, 2004, in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will be transmitted live via satellite. Other group members included Dr. Lloyd Wendell and Robert Richard, with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Dr. Chad Prosser, formerly with NPARL and currently with the National Park Service in Medora, ND, and Bethany Redlin and Jill Miller, with NPARL.
TEAM (The Ecological Area-wide Management of) Leafy Spurge is a 6-year, integrated pest management (IPM) research and demonstration program headquartered at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney, Montana. The program was nominated for its development and implementation of a highly effective, biologically based IPM system for managing the noxious weed leafy spurge across wide geographic and political boundaries. The system incorporated biological control agents with other more traditional management tools leading not only to dramatic reductions in leafy spurge infestations, but also to significant reductions in herbicide use, further protecting and enhancing the environment. In accomplishing its goals, TEAM Leafy Spurge developed far-reaching partnerships with numerous federal and state agencies, land-grant universities, local entities and organizations and private landowners. It has been hailed as a model for tackling other noxious weeds by leaders in the field and program participants alike.

(Gerald Anderson, 406.433.9416, ganderson[at]

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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