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Issue: September/October 2011
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Issue: September/October 2011

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:

Montana ARS scientists participate in ASA meeting

Montana ARS lab hosts Federal Reserve Bank board members

Montana ARS soil scientist invited to speak to college class

Montana ARS personnel aid e-waste recycling effort

Montana ARS scientists to speak at International Biocontrol Symposium

Montana ARS strip till research focus of NRCS tour





Montana ARS scientists participate in ASA meeting

Three Sidney, MT, ARS scientists participated in the 2011 International Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America and the Canadian Society of Soil Science held in San Antonio, TX Oct. 16-19. The event included more than 4,000 scientists, professionals, educators, and students. Presenting posters at the meeting from Sidney ARS were Soil Physicist Jay Jabro ("Long-term tillage and cropping sequence effects on soil physical properties under dryland conditions in Northeastern Montana"); Soil Scientist Upendra Sainju ("Management Practices Influence on Dryland Soil Carbon Dynamics") and Agronomist Brett Allen ("Camelina production affected by seeding rate and depth"). All three scientists are members of the Sidney lab's Agricultural Systems Research Unit.


(Brett Allen, 406.433.9402, (Jay Jabro, 406.433.9442,

Upendra Sainju, 406.433-9408,



Montana ARS lab hosts Federal Reserve Bank board members

Dr. Robert Evans, Agricultural Engineer and Research Leader of the Sidney, MT, ARS lab's Agricultural Systems Research Unit, gave an invited presentation to members of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Board, Helena Branch, during a meeting of that board held at the lab Oct. 13th. Dr. Evans provided an overview of the Agricultural Research Service as a whole, its mission and accomplishments, as well as insights into the Sidney lab's research efforts on behalf of northern Great Plains producers, including pioneering work in strip tillage of sugar beets, rangeland weed biocontrol and more. He also noted the economic returns associated with agricultural research over the years citing statistics showing the average rate of return to public investment in agricultural research ranges from 40-50 percent. FRB Board member John Franklin, president of 1st bank in Sidney, is a long-time member of the Sidney ARS Lab's Customer Focus Group.


(Robert Evans, 406.433-9496,



Montana ARS soil scientist invited to speak to college class

ARS Soil Physicist Jay Jabro will give a "soils lab" for a Williston (ND) State College class on Thursday, Sept. 29th. at the Sidney, MT ARS facility. As part of that lab he will demonstrate and discuss the use of hydrometers for students in the college's "Introduction to Soil Science" class, led by Agricultural Instructor Kim Murphy. Murphy had contacted the ARS lab, in nearby Sidney, for help, noting she had no hydrometer to show her students and wondering whether the lab did, and if so, would someone be willing to demonstrate it for her students. Dr. Jabro, who uses the equipment regularly as part of his research efforts with the Agricultural Systems Research Unit, was more than happy to oblige. Sidney ARS personnel and Murphy have collaborated in the past on several other activities for students as well, including tours of the ARS facility and participation by ARS in ag career events at the college.


(Jay Jabro, 406.433.9442,



Montana ARS personnel aid e-waste recycling effort (USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, MT)  ARS Safety Officer Jackie Couture, Technical Information Specialist Beth Redlin and Pest Management Research Unit Secretary Jill Miller once again helped coordinate the annual "E-rase your E-waste" collection effort in Sidney, MT, including the final weekend event held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10. The ARS personnel helped collect more than 46,000 pounds of outdated electronic waste in four mini summer-month collections, and, while final totals are not yet available, expect to add at least 10,000 more pounds to their 2011 total following the weekend event. Initiated by Couture in 2005, the "E-rase Your E-waste" program has kept more than 100 Tons of e-waste out of local landfills since its inception, ensuring that those items are responsibly recycled (not just shipped overseas) to remove any potential threats to the environment or human health. In addition to the Sidney, MT ARS lab, program partners include Richland Opportunities, Inc. (a community non-profit providing training and jobs for the developmentally disabled), and the Richland County (MT) Local Emergency Planning Committee, which is made up of a number of local businesses and agencies that also contribute to the effort. The group has also put together information for others to use to set up their own events, including poster and brochure templates, all found at the following website: A number of communities, schools and municipalities from across the country have taken advantage of those items. These outreach efforts and ongoing collaborations garnered the "E-rase your E-waste" program an honorable mention for electronic stewardship in the 2009 White House "Closing the Circle" Awards program.


(Jackie Couture, 406.433.9422,

(Beth Redlin, 406.433.9427,



Montana ARS scientists to speak at International Biocontrol Symposium

Sidney (MT) ARS researchers are participating in the XIII International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds in Waikoloa, Hawaii, Sept. 11-16. Up first is ARS Botanist and Pest Management Research Unit Leader John Gaskin who will discuss the "Origins and diversity of rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea) from three continents" during his presentation Tuesday, Sept. 13. Sidney ARS Entomologist Kevin Delaney is also presenting at the gathering. His talk on Thursday, Sept. 15, is discusses the question: "Russian olive - a suitable target for classical biological control in North America?" In addition, Dr. Delaney will be presenting a poster at the session entitled "Drought stress on two Tamarisk populations (WY and MT) in containment: Effects on Diorhabda carinulata survival and adult size." The International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds is a quadrennial international gathering of scientists and managers working in biological control of weeds. International cooperation is central to the practice of biocontrol, and this forum provides a critical opportunity for colleagues to reconnect, share experiences, and plan future collaborations. The meeting in Hawaii is also open to the public and the media and will provide a unique opportunity to take stock of a century of biocontrol in the Pacific and examine emerging issues, including climate change, that affect invasive plant management across the globe.


(John Gaskin, 406.433.9444,  

(Kevin Delaney, 406.433.9440,



Montana ARS strip till research focus of NRCS tour (USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, MT)  Pioneering ARS research in strip tillage of sugarbeet at the Sidney, MT ARS laboratory is the focus of a tour stop by Montana statewide National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel on Thursday, Sept 8. The tour participants will hear from ARS Agricultural Engineer Robert Evans, Agronomist Bart Stevens and Physical Scientist Bill Iversen, who will recap the lab's five-year study into strip tillage of the small-seeded crop under sprinkler irrigation, as well as discuss ongoing studies in fertilizer placement and a look at applying their findings to furrow irrigated fields. The tour is being coordinated by NRCS Bozeman Area Agronomist Kate Norvell and includes stops to visit nearby sugarbeet farms employing strip till in their operations. Research at the Sidney, MT ARS lab showed that producers could save an estimated $60-$100 per acre per year in production costs due to reduced fuel usage and lower machine maintenance costs with no loss in yield. The research also demonstrated significant wind damage protection for young sugar beets and has subsequently led to rapid adoption by growers across the western USA. All three ARS scientist are with the Agricultural Systems Research Unit, with Dr. Evans serving as the unit's Research Leader.


(Robert Evans, 406.433.9496,

(Bill Iversen, 406.433.9417, (Bart Stevens, 406.433.9476,




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