The Roundup -

By Tim Fine 

USDA ARS Focus Group Will Meet Nov. 21


One of the bonuses of my job (at least it’s usually a bonus) is that, because of the position, I get asked (sometimes told) to be a part of various groups. Generally speaking these groups have an agricultural focus and are looking for input. One such group that I am happy to say that I am a part of is the USDA ARS’ focus group. There are several duties that this group performs but the primary tasks are to educate the public in regards to what research is being conducted at the ARS, go to bat for them if asked to do so, and provide the researchers at the facility with input as to what research projects are relevant for agriculture producers in the region.

I am bringing this up because it just so happens that the focus group is meeting on Monday, Nov. 21 from 1-4:30 pm at the ARS lab (1500 North Central Avenue, Sidney) and it also just so happens that the meeting is open to anyone who may have an interest in helping accomplish the tasks listed above.

While there is a formal meeting with committee reports and all, there will also be presentations that should be of interest to agricultural producers.

The Featured speaker for the day is Dr. Randal Anderson, a Research Agronomist with the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings SD. Dr Anderson’s research is focused on alternative controls for crop weeds in no-till systems with the goal of reducing herbicide use and hence costs for producers. Ultimately, he hopes to eliminate the use of herbicides altogether using a whole-system weed management approach that employs multitactics to combat weed populations by circumventing and overwhelming their natural ability to adapt to change. The title for Dr. Anderson’s talk is “A population-based approach to weed management”.

In addition to Dr. Anderson’s presentation, scientists with the Sidney ARS laboratory will provide brief updates on ongoing research as well as discussions on new studies at that facility, including:

• a multi-state CRP study into seeding options being developed in cooperation and with funding from the USDA Farm Service Agency;

• a long-term, no-till sugarbeet study begun at the lab this year, and

• the parameters identified by collaborators for new pollinator research to address honey bee and native bumble bee issues in this region.

Other research updates include those from ARS partners in the “MonDak Ag Research Triangle,” including presentations by Dr. Chengci Chen, head of Montana State University’s Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney and Dr. Jerald Bergman, head of North Dakota State University’s Williston Research and Extension Center in Williston. The joint presentations provide a look at new agricultural research underway in this region. In most instances, the speakers will also be available during breaks for additional questions or discussions with participants.

After the featured speakers have concluded, the regular business meeting of the focus group will resume. The primary focus of the business meeting will be centered around efforts to ensure the continued retention of the insect unit at Sidney ARS (targeted for elimination under the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget). There is no need to pre-register and participants in the meeting are not obligated to join the group, nor stay for the entire session, although any input would be invaluable to the members of the research team at the ARS.

For more information, you are welcome to contact me at 433-1206 or by email at Or, you are welcome to contact the ARS lab at 433-9444.

Finally, since Friday was Veterans Day I feel that I should give a big heartfelt thank you to all of our veterans. I, along with many others in this community, truly appreciate all that you have done for us.


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