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Issue: May/June 2005
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Northern PlainFacts

Issue: May/June 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: 


NPARL holds quarantine groundbreaking ceremony

ARS Plant Pathologist collects samples in Europe

ARS safety reps to tour "e-cycling" facility
ARS botanist collecting weed samples for DNA 
ARS rep conducts plant identification workshop
NPARL Mormon cricket research on German TV

Froid Research Farm Tour Scheduled for June 23
ARS E-waste Event Collects Over Four Tons


ARS E-waste Event Collects Over Four Tons of Electronics

Link to E-waste event photos.More than four tons of elec- tronic waste products were collected during the community-wide "E-rase your E-waste" event held in Sidney this past Friday and Saturday, June 24-25, 2005. Altogether 93 computers and 73 monitors were recycled during the two-day event along with 42 printers, six fax machines, six slide projectors, five electric typewriters, four television sets, three microwaves, three copiers, two scanners, a VCR and an old turntable, according to organizers. Also included in the mix were assorted keyboards and other smaller computer components, scientific scales, and even an old DNA gene sequencing unit.

"The response from the community was great," Disaster and Emergency Service Coordinator Butch Renders said. "Because there was a cost involved, we really weren't expecting this big of a response. We want to extend our sincere thanks to all those individuals, businesses and organizations who participated."

Renders and Jackie Couture, Health and Safety Officer with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Sidney, are both members of the Richland County Local Emergency Planning Committee, one of the organizers of the event. Other organizers included the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, which hosted the two-day event; and the Richland County Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, and the local Community Emergency Response Team, both of which helped with preparations as well as providing volunteers to aid in the actual collection effort.

Couture said she, too, was both surprised and pleased with the public response. She also reported that the more than two dozen participants came from as far away as Froid, MT and Williston, ND, as well as from the Lambert and Sidney areas, the bulk of them on Friday. Local businesses and organizations were also represented, she noted, even a local church.

"We want to thank Sidney Health Center, First Bank, Pella Church, the MonDak Heritage Center and the county for joining in the event," Couture said. "We also want to thank Dick Jensen and ROI for their participation and words of encouragement for this recycling effort."

Officials with Tatooine Electronic Systems, Inc., the e-cycler for the event, said they also felt the event was a success. Company President Jeff Stump noted he had reservations initially about the community collection since previous efforts his company has been involved with have all had grant funding to cover costs for participants. However, the enthusiasm shown by organizers and the involvement of several community agencies and organizations convinced him to participate, he said, adding that he also was pleasantly surprised at the response which fell within collection ranges seen for similarly sized communities where there were no charges for participants.

"It really demonstrated that people in this area recognize the importance of keeping these dangerous materials out of our local landfill," Couture said.

Couture and Renders noted that local officials are hoping to hold more e-waste recycling efforts in the future and are currently exploring opportunities through grants or other programs that would allow participants to recycle their obsolete electronic items free of charge. Officials are also studying how often and where to hold such events in the future.


Froid Research Farm Tour Scheduled for June 23

By: Gina Snyder, Roosevelt County Extension Agent

Link to the 2005 Froid Farm Tour photos.The 2005 Froid Research Farm Tour is scheduled for June 23 starting at the research Farm at 1:00 p.m. with regist-ration.  The research farm is located 8 miles north of Culbertson on Highway 16. 

At 1:15 p.m., Paul Miller, Founder, President and Board Director of Sustainable Systems, LLC will talk about the transition from Montola to Sustainable Systems, biofuels and what the future of the company will be in Culbertson.

At 1:30 p.m. the busses will board for the Off Farm Tour featuring crops such as peas, lentils, alfalfa and other dry land rotational crops in the area.  Producers will be led by Terry Angvick, Sheridan County Extension Agent; Sue Blodgett, Montana State University Extension Entomologist, and Gina Snyder, Roosevelt County Extension Agent, to learn about the rotational benefits, insect and weed management and growing information of rotational crops in the area. 

At 3:30 p.m. the busses will return from the Off Farm portion of the tour and participants will ride on wagons to view research being done by USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) scientists.  Research will include a wheat/pea rotation study by USDA-ARS NPARL Soil Scientist Jed Waddell, a cover crop trial by USDA-ARS NPARL Soil Scientist Upendra M. Sainju and an alternate vs. stacked rotation study done by a team of USDA-ARS NPARL scientists.  The On Farm tour portion will also include a soil horizon demonstration pit to show how our farming practices affect our soils and to view the structures that naturally occur in our soils. 

The day will wrap up with a steak supper sponsored by the Sheridan and Roosevelt County Conservation Districts. 

This traditional research tour is sponsored by the Sheridan and Roosevelt County Conservation Districts, USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory - Sidney, MT, and Montana State University Extension.  We have a fun and educational day planned and hope to have a good turnout for the tour again this year.


NPARL Mormon cricket research to be featured in German television show

Photograph of NPARL collaborator from Univ. of North Carolina and NPARL technician Laura Senior.A German television crew accom-panied NPARL Research Ecologist Greg Sword and his Mormon cricket research team in the field this season to film footage for an upcoming episode of the popular weekly German television program, "Tierzeit" (Animal Time). Sword, along with NPARL Biological Science Technician Laura Senior and collaborator Pat Lorch from the University of North Carolina, were filmed conducting their work in Utah and Idaho over a two-week period in June beginning June 14th by producer/director Grisha Kerstan, and the host of the show, Dirk Steffens. The episode will feature footage of swarms from the recent Desert locust outbreak in West Africa and then segue into Sword's work which involves the use of tiny radio transmitters to track the movements of individual Mormon crickets within moving migratory bands. The show's producer learned of Sword's research from a recently published article in "Nature" magazine and wanted to include it in their show as an example of scientific work currently being done to alleviate the impact of migratory insect pests around the world. The episode will be titled "Teeth of the Wind" and is scheduled for broadcast in Fall 2005.

(Greg Sword, 406.433.9429, gsword[at]
(Laura Senior, 406.433.9498, lsenior[at]


ARS rep conducts plant identification workshop

NPARL Biological Science Technician Kimberly Mann was invited to conduct a plant identification workshop Wednesday, June 1 in Glendive, MT, as part of a Northeastern Montana Crew Training for county weed supervisors and summer weed crews in four Montana counties. In addition to Mann's weed identification workshop, participants in the training learned about the importance of accurate record keeping, chemical safety, first aid, and using GPS and mapping tools. Mann is a member of NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit.

(Kim Mann, 406.433.9428, kmann[at]


ARS botanist collecting weed DNA samples for biocontrol research effort

Dr. John Gaskin, a botanist with NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit, will be traveling from Montana to southern Oregon May 23-June 2 collecting population DNA samples of Dyer's woad (Isatis tinctoria), a noxious weed infesting natural areas from western Montana to northern California. DNA from these plants will be analyzed to determine how different genotypes are distributed across the invasion, and USA plants will be compared with Eurasian samples to determine the origin(s) of the invasive genotypes. The study is an initial step in a research effort underway to identify potential biological control agents (insects and pathogens) overseas that could be used to attack the plant in this country. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Hariet Hinz at CABI in Switzerland.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444, jgaskin[at]

ARS safety reps to tour "e-cycling" facility

NPARL Safety Officer Jackie Couture and IT Specialist Kevin Dahl will be traveling to Cheyenne, WY May 23-to do an informal onsite inspection of Tattoine, Inc., an "e-cycling" facility that the lab will use to recycle its electronic waste later this summer. Joining them will be ARS Northern Plains Area Safety and Health Manager Bonnie King, along with Kruger Bryant, from ARS in Laramie, WY, and Shane Hott, from ARS in Cheyenne, WY. Also participating in the onsite inspection will be Loni Hanka, a Recycling and Marketing Specialist with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The visitors will meet with Tattoine officials to learn more about how the company recycles e-waste and how it addresses the safety and environmental issues involved. The tour is in preparation for a community-wide e-cycling event, initiated by Couture, to be held at the Sidney, MT ARS Laboratory on June 24-25. Tattoine is the recycler for the June effort at Sidney. Also helping with the event, in addition to ARS, are the Richland County Local Emergency Planning Committee, the local Retired Seniors Volunteer Program and the Community Emergency Response Team. News of the collaborative e-cycling event attracted the attention of Hanka and other area waste officials interested in promoting similar e-cycling projects in their communities. That, in turn, prompted the Sidney lab to make its program materials and information freely available on its own and the Montana DEQ websites to anyone that could use them. In preparation for the June event, NPARL also hosted two public information meetings this past April during which community members could question Tattoine officials about what constitutes e-waste, its potential environmental hazards, how e-cycling can help reduce them, and how they could participate.

(Jackie Couture, 406.433.9422, jcouture[at]
(Kevin Dahl, 406.433.9409, kdahl[at]


ARS Plant Pathologist collects samples in Europe

NPARL Research Plant Pathologist Anthony Caesar worked in Europe May 7-22, 2005, to investigate plant pathogens that may serve as biological control agents for invasive weeds in this country.  In Hungary and Austria he collected soil infested with Uromyces scutellatus, a rust fungus that infects Euphorbia species closely related to the noxious weed leafy spurge in the U.S., and also isolated plant pathogens associated with Ceutorhynchus spp., a weevil that causes the formation of galls on Whitetop roots.  These organisms are potential biological control agents for the noxious weeds, Leafy spurge and Whitetop in the U.S.  Dr. Caesar also collected samples in France and Switzerland.  In France, he collected soil surrounding plants of hawkweed to determine with leaf smut, Entyloma hieracii, if infection occurs in a similar manner as the rust fungus on Euphorbia.  In Switzerland, Caesar collected samples to isolate soil borne diseases of Leipidium draba, also commonly known as Whitetop or Hoary cress, associated with insect damage.  Several samples have been shipped directly to a quarantine facility at Montana State University in Bozeman, where several studies will be conducted.  

(Anthony Caesar, 406.433.9412, caesara[at]


NPARL holds groundbreaking ceremony for quarantine project

Click here for more Groundbreaking ceremony photos.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for construction of a new, 3,650-square-foot quarantine facility and the addition of 4,000-square-feet of new greenhouse space at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney was held Wednesday, May 4th at 1 p.m. U.S. Senator Conrad Burns was the keynote speaker for the ceremony, which also included comments from Dr. Rodney Brown, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, and North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Roger Johnson. The project, also known as Phase II, includes construction of a new, enhanced insect quarantine facility along with much-needed greenhouse space that will allow for expanded research during the winter months, and significantly speed approval - by as much as 10% to 20% - of new biological control agents for noxious weeds. That translates to two to three years off the time typically needed to get a new biological control agent "on the ground" in the ongoing battle against invasive weeds, and is due in large part to ARS scientists being able to do onsite testing of prospective agents at the Sidney lab site. The Phase II project is the second half of a major expansion begun at the Sidney lab several years ago. Phase I included construction of the research site's new lab/office complex, which was dedicated in August, 2002.