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Issue: September/October 2008 (1)
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Northern PlainFacts.

Current Issue: September/October 2008

The Northern PlainFacts electronic newsletter offers brief updates on research, personnel, and events from both the Agricultural Systems Research Unit and Pest Management Research Unit at NPARL, and includes contact names and information for those interested in further details. 

In This Month's Issue:


ARS Botanist Invited to Speak at International Invasive Plant Research Forum 

Montana ARS lab hosts international Wheat Stem Sawfly Conference

ARS researchers participate in joint meeting of five science societies

Research Biologist speaks at North American Weed Management Association

ARS researcher to train Azores personnel in fungal production  





ARS Botanist Invited to Speak at International Invasive Plant Research Forum

NPARL Research Botanist John Gaskin was invited to speak at an International Research Forum Oct. 28-29, in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. The forum, entitled "Invasive Plant Research in British Columbia: Current Projects and Future Trends", was hosted by the Invasive Plant Council of British Columbia. The intent of this forum was to discuss (1) research that is currently underway in the Canadian Province (and the Pacific NW that relates to the Province), (2) research that is required to inform successful invasive plant management in BC, and (3) next steps for invasive plant research in BC. Dr. Gaskin's presentation for the event was entitled "DNA and Invasion Control." He also participated in a panel discussion with other speakers also participating in the "New Approaches to Management" session of the forum. Dr. Gaskin is the Research Leader of NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit.


(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444,



Montana ARS lab hosts international Wheat Stem Sawfly Conference October 13-14

The Fourth International Wheat Stem Sawfly Conference will be held Oct. 13-14 at the Agricultural Research Service's Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney, MT. The 1-1/2-day conference, held only every three to five years, brings together scientists from across the region, the Prairie Provinces of Canada, and from Montpellier, France, to discuss ongoing and future research into the biological, cultural and chemical control of wheat stem sawfly. Topics for the conference include discussions on the genetics of the wheat stem sawfly and new wheat varieties intended to help combat the pest, as well as biological and cultural management research and survey information. Among the scheduled presenters are wheat breeders Luther Talbert and Phil Bruckner, entomologists David Weaver and Kevin Delany, and chemical ecologist Micaela Buteler, all with Montana State University-Bozeman; cereal agronomist Brian Beres and entomologist Hector Carcamo of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta; and entomologist Walker Jones and molecular biologist Marie-Claude Bon, both with the USDA-ARS European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France. The wheat stem sawfly is a serious pest in the Northern Great Plains and Canada, causing yield losses of more than $100 million a year, with annual losses in Montana alone exceeding $25 million.


(Deb Waters, 406.433.9419,



ARS researchers participate in joint meeting of five science societies

NPARL researchers John Gaskin, W. Bart Stevens, Upendra Sainju, Jay Jabro, Andy Lenssen and Brett Allen all participated in the 2008 Joint Annual Meeting of five scientific societies Oct. 5-9 in Houston, TX. The meeting theme was "Celebrating the Year of the Plant" and brought together five Societies in an unprecedented joint technical program featuring papers from all geological disciplines and the soil, agronomic, and crop sciences. The societies represented include: The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Studies. Contributions from scientists at the Sidney, MT ARS lab included the following presentations:

  • NPARL Botanist and Pest Management Research Unit Leader John Gaskin spoke at the Impact of Global Climate Change on Plant Genetic Resources Symposium on the "Hybridization and Plant Invasions" discussing the implications of increased plant invasion involving hybrid and how hybridization can force us to alter our methodology for controlling plant invasions.

  • NPARL Agronomist W. Bart Stevens' talk was entitled "Tillage and Irrigation Method Effects on Yield and Quality of Sugarbeet and Malting Barley" and discussed the use of reduced tillage and high-efficiency irrigation systems to reduce fuel and water inputs in those crops compared to conventional practices. Sidney, MT ARS researchers presenting posters at the joint meeting were:

  • NPARL Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju presented two posters entitled "Cropping Sequence Effect on Dryland Crop Root and Soil Properties" and "Tillage, Cropping Sequence, and Nitrogen Fertilization Effects on Dryland Soil Carbon Dioxide Emission and Carbon Content (GRACEnet Project)"

  • NPARL Weed Ecologist Andrew Lenssen presented a poster entitled "Crop Diversification and Management System Influence Yield and Weeds in the Northern Great Plains."

  • NPARL Soil Physicist Jay Jabro whose poster was entitled "Tillage Depth Effects on Soil Physical Properties, Sugarbeet Yield and Quality." ? NPARL Agronomist Brett Allen whose poster was entitled "Dryland Corn Seeding Rate and Row Configuration Impacts on Biomass, Grain Yield, and Water Use."

  • Drs. Stevens, Sainju, Lenssen, Jabro and Allen are all members of NPARL's Agricultural Systems Research Unit.

(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444,

(Bart Stevens, 406.433.9476,

(Upendra Sainju, 406.433.9408,

(Andrew Lenssen, 406.433.9471,

(Jay Jabro, 406.433.9442,



Research Biologist speaks at North American Weed Management Association

NPARL Research Biologist and Research Leader Dr. John Gaskin was invited to speak at the North American Weed Management Association (NAWMA) in Billings, MT, September 15-18, 2008. Dr. Gaskin's presentation was titled, "CSI Weeds (DNA Mapping and Weeds)" focusing on the use of DNA markers, at the family, species and population levels, to assist in biological control of invasive weeds. More than 150 scientists throughout the U.S. and Canada attended the conference. The mission of NAWMA is to provide education, regulatory direction, professional improvement, and environmental awareness to preserve and protect our natural resources from the degrading impacts of exotic, invasive noxious weeds.


(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444,


ARS researcher to train Azores personnel in fungal production

NPARL Research Entomologist Stefan Jaronski is returning to the Azores September 12-24 to continue training personnel of the Azores Regional Service of Crop Protection in mass production of Metarhizium, an insect pathogenic fungus being developed for controlling Japanese beetle on the islands. Last April, Jaronski and ARS entomologist Lerry Lacey, Wapato WA, traveled to the islands to teach a short introductory course in fungal mass production. This time Jaronski will provide more intense hands-on training and troubleshooting consultation to get their production system functioning properly. He will also conduct some bioassays of some candidate strains of the fungus. His trip is being funded by the Office of International Research Programs as part of their continuing assistance to Azores agriculture. Dr. Jaronski is a member of NPARL's Pest Management Research Unit.


(Stefan Jaronski, 406.433.9486,



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