MSU Names New Vice President of Agriculture

BOZEMAN – After a national search, Montana State University has selected Sreekala Bajwa to become its next vice president of agriculture.

Bajwa has been serving as chair of North Dakota State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and professor of agricultural engineering since 2012. She will begin at MSU on Jan. 14.

As the vice president of agriculture, Bajwa will oversee a teaching, education and research network that stretches across Montana with seven agricultural research centers, five academic departments and five Bozeman-based campus farms and ranches. The College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station collectively conduct research to address production challenges to benefit the agricultural industry in Montana.

“The College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station are cornerstones of our land-grant mission,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Our search produced many strong candidates, but in Dr. Bajwa, we have found someone extremely qualified to lead agriculture at Montana State into its future through her pioneering vision for new applications in agriculture and natural resources.”

Bajwa said she is honored to be chosen as the next vice president of agriculture.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to join a thriving university with a deep commitment to excellence and innovation,” she said. “I intend to continue supporting the university’s diverse agroscience research while promoting MSU’s students, faculty and programs in line with its land-grant missions. I very much look forward to getting to know the Big Sky state and working with our stakeholders and partners.”

Bajwa has an extensive background in agricultural engineering and developing technology for smart agriculture. She is a highly regarded researcher of precision agriculture and has provided international leadership into research and education for applying remote sensing and unmanned aerial systems to agricultural systems.

Under her leadership, NDSU was ranked 18th in the world for precision agriculture by Precision Agriculture Professionals, and she led the development of that university’s academic major and minor in precision agriculture. She has worked collaboratively with NDSU Extension, the agricultural experiment station, USDA-ARS, and many industries including Fortune 500 technology companies on a multi-million dollar initiative to improve smart farming.

Her technological accomplishments include four inventions in digital agriculture and bio-based materials, and she has been lead investigator or co-investigator on 45 grant-funded projects worth more than $19 million. She is the author of five book chapters and more than 68 journal articles.

Bajwa received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Kerala Agricultural University in India, her master’s degree in agricultural engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in India and her doctorate of agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bajwa was chosen after a national search conducted by a six-person committee, chaired by Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Bob Mokwa. She replaces outgoing Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer, who will retire in December.

The College of Agriculture comprises five academic departments: Agricultural Economics and Economics, Animal and Range Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, and the Department of Research Centers; as well as the Division of Agricultural Education, and includes the Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine.

 

 

Source: MSU

2018 Montana CattleWomen Scholarship Recipient Announced

by Nancy Heriem MCW Scholarship Committee Chair

The 2018 Montana CattleWomen’s Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Kyler Maharg of Helena, Montana.  Kyler is pursuing a Bachelor of Science at the Montana State University (MSU) College of Agriculture in Animal Science.  He has completed his first year at MSU in this program with a 4.0 grade point average.  Kyler is a former high school graduate from Helena High and grew up on his multi-generation family ranch near Helena, Montana.

Kyler was one of seven highly qualified applicants for the MCA scholarship.

In Kyler’s own words, he believes “one of the biggest issues that affects the agricultural industry today is lack of education.  Many people don’t know where their food comes from.”  He further stated that “every student in the 3rd or 4th grade should experience a day at the farm/ranch.”  As a strong advocate for educating children about agriculture, Kyler has been instrumental with his family in bringing children to their ranch to show them and let them experience first hand “where their food comes from.”  He plans to expand this program to all 3rd graders in the Helena School District and hopes to help expand this program throughout the entire state of Montana.

The Montana Cattlewomen’s Scholarship is in the amount of $1,000 and is funded through memorials.  This scholarship was established in 1963 and has been awarded to a worthy receipt every year since its inception.

With a passion for ranching and educating young people about agriculture, Kyler will continue to be a strong contributor to the agriculture and livestock industry.  Congratulations Kyler!

Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Dates Announced

The Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Dates have been announced.

The very first seminar of The Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series is next week, Wednesday, September 19th.  Vince Smith will give two seminars, a research/technical seminar at Noon in ABB 134 and a Community Talk at 6:00 pm in ABB 134.

There will be a reception starting at 5:30 pm in the Atrium before the Community Talk, everyone is invited.  Please share with anyone you think might like to attend.

If you have any questions please contact Carl Yeoman (carl.yeoman@montana.edu) or Lance McNew (lance.mcnew@montana.edu).

Bair Ranch Foundation Seminar Series – Fall Semester 2018

Wednesday, September 19:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Vince Smith, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University

“Food Aid Cargo Preference:  Costs, Benefits and Implications for US Humanitarian Aid Efforts”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Vince Smith, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University

“US Agricultural Policy:  Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?”

 

 

Wednesday, October 3:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Kevin Ellison, Grasslands Ecologist, Northern Great Plains, World Wildlife Fund

“Landscape Scale Interactions between Birds and Agriculture”

 

 

Wednesday, October 17:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Amilton de Mello, Ph.D., Nevada Meat Science Lab, University of Nevada – Reno

“Beef Industry in the U.S. – Challenges and Perspectives”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Amilton de Mello, Ph.D., Nevada Meat Science Lab, University of Nevada – Reno

“Beef Industry in the U.S. – Challenges and Perspectives”

 

 

Wednesday, October 31:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Matthew Cronin, Scientist with Northwest Biology Company

“Population Genetics of Wildlife and Livestock”

 

 

Wednesday, November 14:

MSU Seminar @ Noon in ABB 134

Matthew Spangler, Professor, Beef Genetics Specialist, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“Genetic Selection of Livestock:  Why it Matters to You”

 

Community Talk @ 6:00 pm in ABB 134

Matthew Spangler, Professor, Beef Genetics Specialist, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

“Genetic Selection of Livestock:  Why it Matters to You”

 

MSU faculty seek to increase participation of women in agriculture with $94,000 USDA grant

Source: MSU

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics and United States Department of Agriculture show while women constitute less than 1 percent of the nation’s agricultural scientists, engineers, and policymakers, they occupy the majority, about 60 percent, of lower-paid agricultural jobs on America’s farms and ranches.

Six female professors at Montana State University and Flathead Valley Community College hope to increase the percentage of women agricultural scientists, engineers and policymakers by way of a $94,000 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, “Empowering Women in Agriculture.” The grant is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program, a federal initiative that invests in a diverse 21st-century agricultural science workforce and aims to increase representation of women and minorities in American agriculture.

“Representation and participation by women is an incredibly important focus in 21st-century agriculture,” said Irene Grimberg, MSU professor of cell biology and neuroscience in the College of Letters and Science, and one of the grant’s six principal investigators. “It’s a privilege to administer the grant with my colleagues so that we can begin to explore how we can elevate and support a diversified agricultural workforce in Montana.”

In 2015, the USDA published a jobs report in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environmental sectors. The report’s strongest career projections are in agricultural science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, sustainable food and biomaterials. The report also cited a need to diversify America’s agricultural workforce.

According to project organizers, the central goals of the grant are threefold: integrate research and education to increase the participation of women in agriculture, prepare the next generation agricultural leaders in Montana and bring greater public awareness to the critical role of females in agriculture. According to the USDA, 34 percent, or 15,065, of Montana farmers are women.

The grant’s five other principal investigators are Tracy Sterling, head of the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences; Tracy Dougher, associate dean of the College of Agriculture; Jane Mangold and Lisa Rew, associate professors in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences who focus on a wide variety of weed and invasive plant ecology and management issues in range and agricultural systems; and Heather Estrada, associate professor and program director of agriculture at FVCC.

The grant’s investigators will provide an online two-credit course, “women in the agricultural workforce in the 21st century,” that targets freshman and sophomore students enrolled at institutions in the Montana University System. The course will be team-taught by Estrada, Rew, and Mangold.

Estrada said the course will highlight the diversity of roles and contributions by women currently working in agricultural careers in farming and ranching, research, Extension, administration, and marketing.

“The idea is to expose students to the incredible variety of agricultural workforce pathways and their associated rewards and demands, shared by women working in diverse roles in Montana agriculture,” Estrada said. “There are many career opportunities for young women besides production that don’t require farming or ranching background. When we developed the class, we wanted to facilitate communication between an older generation of seasoned professionals in agriculture and the current, or next, generation of women in agriculture for an opportunity to connect and empower each other.”

Agriculture is a very male-dominated STEM field, Estrada added. “The more we can explore and recognize the wonderful and diverse contributions of women in agriculture, the more we can think outside the box and find opportunities to contribute.”

The course will be offered through FVCC, but credits will be transferable to other institutions across the Montana University System. The grant covers two-thirds of the course’s tuition for students for the duration of the project, and Estrada said she hopes the course will be taught for many years to come.

The partnership between MSU and FVCC is particularly important, Sterling said, because it’s a sharing of resources in a rural, agricultural state, and it targets historically underrepresented students — those first-generation college students, American Indian students and non-traditional students who typically enroll in community colleges or two-year workforce programs.

“Community colleges are wonderful places to begin the call for a diversified workforce,” Sterling said. “We need to begin to look critically and deeply about all walks of life having something to offer, particularly in agriculture, if higher education is going to address global questions like water resources, climate change, and food production. Land-grants are the institutions of access, and it’s important we take a leadership role in actively recruiting the next generation agricultural workforce.”

Sterling, who managed New Mexico State University’s ADVANCE grant funded by the National Science Foundation, said the NSF-ADVANCE and USDA-WAMS programs share similar tenets of inclusion and support of women in higher education. Sterling also sits on the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of University Women, a 28-member commission created to study, evaluate and advise the president on issues related to diversity and gender equity at MSU.

“Gender equity and diversity are certainly not new issues,” she said. “However, they become increasingly important as we see several fields where there’s a small percentage or complete absence of women at the top levels of administration and management, especially in STEM fields.”

A second aspect of the grant is a statewide survey of Montana women who work in agriculture. Grimberg said the survey seeks to identify the women workers’ needs, aspirations and achievements. Its questions address pay inequity, women in leadership roles, entrepreneurial support, workplace characteristics, land and capital access, and principal roles in agriculture.

“The survey study is intended to gauge women’s dreams, aspirations, and expectations, in addition to their needs,” Grimberg said. “We don’t know what kinds of research, programs, and tools are needed to better support Montana women in agriculture unless we have some baseline data.”

In an effort to increase students’ real-life experience in agriculture, the grant provides a year’s funding for up to 10 paid interns. Interns will choose from five agricultural career paths to shadow an intern host, who is preferably a female agricultural professional in Montana.

In a culminating event, the grant’s project leaders plan to organize a two-day public summit of women in agriculture to be hosted at MSU that will include panels, student presentations, talks and discussions on women’s experiences in agriculture. The summit will include a photography contest and video presentations showcasing the diversity of jobs, journeys, and lives of women working agriculture. To increase public awareness of women’s contributions to Montana’s agriculture, a team from the MSU School of Film and Photography will produce a repository of video clips and interviews with students and women in agriculture.

Charles Boyer, MSU vice president of agriculture, said he’s thrilled to support the grant and its goal of diversifying the agricultural workforce.

“As we look to a robust 21st-century ag workforce that can meet the demands of global food security and safety through technology and science, we need to uplift, mentor and support every resource possible. That begins with women and minority populations,” Boyer said. “My hope is that Montana students from diverse backgrounds seriously consider the agricultural fields. We need them.”

Contact: Irene Grimberg, grimberg@montana.edu, 406-994-3151

MSU College of Agriculture hosts first ‘College of Ag Connects’ forum Jan. 15

The Montana State University College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station invite members of the agricultural community and the public to attend its first college-wide public forum, “College of Ag Connects” on Monday, Jan. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The forum is slated to engage with the Montana agricultural community on current and local issues by highlighting relevant, ongoing college programs and projects in agricultural teaching, research, and Extension. Faculty from each of the college’s five academic departments will present overviews of their teaching and research, followed by a question and answer session. MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer will deliver opening and closing remarks.

Tracy Dougher, associate dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture, said she hopes College of Ag Connects becomes an annual winter event for the college.

“As a cornerstone college of the land-grant mission at MSU, it’s important we continually provide face-to-face venues to connect with our partners and colleagues, in addition to digital means,” she said. “January is a good month to share updates on our diverse agricultural research and activity when most producers and agencies are preparing for the new year.”

College of Ag Connects will be held in Room 125 in Linfield Hall. Lunch costs $10 in MSU’s Miller Dining Hall, but the event is free and open to the public, though registration is encouraged. Registration forms can be found at http://bit.ly/2BJp4q1.  Visitors are welcome to park in university parking lots designated SB and F for the day, as Jan. 15 is a federal holiday and MSU classes will not be in session and offices will be closed.

Patrick Hatfield, head of MSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences, organized a similar departmental meeting in past years with great success.

“Our annual meeting with the Stillwater Range Association stakeholders in the Animal and Range Sciences Department eventually grew to include presentations from other departments in the college, and we received requests to expand the program to the entire College of Agriculture, Experiment Station and Extension,” he said. “We’re glad to do just that and hope the event is an opportunity for dialogue and feedback on our programs and research.”

Hatfield said the event is modeled after summer field days in the Department of Research Centers, where seven remote MAES research centers host a day to share programs and research.

College of Ag Connects faculty presentations are as follows:

For more information, contact Patrick Hatfield at hatfield@montana.edu or call 406-994-4850.

 

Source: MSU

Regional Pesticide Education Trainings offered across Montana in 2018

The Montana State University Pesticide Education Program (PEP) is coordinating five regional private applicator initial certification trainings across Montana. These seven-hour training opportunities are designed for individuals desiring to learn more about pesticides, while simultaneously qualifying for a Montana private applicator license. A private applicator license allows individuals to apply restricted use pesticides on land they own, rent or lease. Training opportunities are available within Northern Cheyenne Reservation (Lame Deer) on January 17th, Blackfoot Reservation (Browning) on January 30th, Stillwater County (Columbus) on February 1st, Fort Belknap Reservation (Harlem) on March 6th and Broadwater County (Three Forks) on March 15th.

Each program will cover many subject areas of interest including integrated pest management, pesticide movement in the environment, pesticide safety and toxicity, pesticide law, calibrating ground spray equipment, understanding the private applicator license, reading and understanding the pesticide product label. Montana State University and Montana Department of Agriculture trainers speaking at these events include Dr. Jane Mangold (MSU Rangeland Weed Specialist), Dr. Cecil Tharp (MSU Pesticide Education Specialist), Amy Bowser (MSU Pesticide Education Technician), Theresa Schrum (MDA District Officer), Diana DeYoung (MDA District Officer) and Michaela Hystad (MDA District Officer). Surrounding MSU Extension county and tribal agents will also be assisting with many of the presentations.

Cost and Private Applicator Credit Opportunities

The registration fee varies by location with Lame Deer ($15), Harlem (Free), Columbus ($15), Browning (Free), and Three Forks ($27). This fee (when applicable) covers necessary manuals, speaker costs, and a catered lunch. Private applicators may attend the entire program for 6 private pesticide recertification credits. Attendees will qualify for a private applicator pesticide license by attending the entire event. Once qualified, individuals may send in a new applicator permit with license payment to the Montana Department of Agriculture to attain their Montana private applicator license. Attendees are strongly urged to pre-register as space is limited. See initial pesticide training details on the following page:

Initial Training Details and Registration

Date Host Location Info Fee Registration
3/15/2018 MSU PEP

Broadwater County

Three Forks Headwaters Livestock Auction

25 Wheatland Road

Agenda $27 Online

994-5178

amy.bowser@montana.edu

3/6/2018 MSU PEP

Ft. Belknap Reservation

Harlem

FBIC Transportation Building

258 Agency Main St.

Agenda Free Online 994-5178

amy.bowser@montana.edu

2/1/2018 MSU PEP

Stillwater County

Columbus Columbus Fire and Rescue

944 E Pike Street

Agenda $15 Online 994-5178

amy.bowser@montana.edu

1/30/2018 MSU PEP

Blackfeet Reservation

Browning

Glacier Peaks Hotel 46 Museum Loop

Agenda Free Online 994-5178

amy.bowser@montana.edu

1/17/2018 MSU PEP

Northern Cheyenne Reservation

Lame Deer Charging Horse Casino

½ US 212

Agenda $15 Online 994-5178

amy.bowser@montana.edu

 

Follow the links above for location-specific agendas and registration or use the full links below. • Agendas: http://www.pesticides.montana.edu/pat/education/initial.html

• Registration: http://www.pesticides.montana.edu/event.html

Contact Amy Bowser (406-994-5178; amy.bowser@montana.edu) regarding registration questions or Cecil Tharp (406-994-5067; ctharp@montana.edu) with other pesticide education questions.

MSU to host annual Celebrate Agriculture event Nov. 3-4

The Montana State University College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station will host its 18th annual Celebrate Agriculture event, set for Nov. 3-4 on the MSU campus. The event is held in honor of the state and university’s joint agricultural legacy and in celebration of current students, agriculture alumni, and MSU’s extended agricultural community across Montana.

MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer said the event is a longstanding tradition at the university.

“Each year, we look forward to the weekend in November that’s dedicated to celebrating our university’s agricultural roots alongside a large portion of Montana’s agricultural community,” Boyer said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to see current students engage with alumni, producers and major stakeholders across the state. MSU agriculture wouldn’t be what it is today without the diverse agencies, alumni, businesses, and generations of families that support our programs and this is the weekend we get to honor our joint accomplishments.”

The two-day event will feature the MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics’ annual Outlook Seminar, “Managing Land Resources in the Context of Variable Weather,” scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 3, in the MSU Procrastinator Theater. Several MSU agricultural economics faculty will present short talks on topics including climate and drought, peas and lentils, public lands and land valuations and rental rates, in addition to updates on Farm Bill 2018. Representatives from Triangle Communications, the Montana Cooperative Development Center and the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center will speak about current issues facing rural economies. Paul Jakus, Utah State University professor, will deliver the keynote M.L. Wilson Lecture, “Can States Afford a Federal Land Transfer?”

Registration for the outlook conference is $25 and can be found online at http://www.ampc.montana.edu/fallconference/.

Following the conference, the MSU Collegiate Stockgrowers will host a reception beginning at 4 p.m.in the atrium of the Animal Biosciences Building.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, a free Harvest Brunch will be held from 10 -11:30 a.m., in the Shroyer Gym, where the college’s annual Outstanding Agricultural Leader and 2017 Homecoming awardees will be recognized. MSU President Waded Cruzado and Boyer will deliver remarks. At noon, Bobcat Football will play Kennesaw State University for the Ag Appreciation game at Bobcat Stadium.

Preceding the two-day event, the College of Agriculture Ambassadors will host an Ag Career Social at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in the atrium of the Animal Bioscience Building. The COA Ambassadors is a student-led advocacy group for the College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. Current agricultural students are encouraged to attend for a casual professional networking event with prospective agribusiness employers representing finance, sales, production, marketing and public agencies.

A full schedule of events for the Celebrate Agriculture weekend can be found at http://agriculture.montana.edu/celebrateag/.

Contact: Susan Fraser, sfraser@montana.edu, 406-994-3681

MSU College of Ag seeks nominations for outstanding agricultural leader

The Montana State University College of Agriculture is seeking nominations for its outstanding agricultural leader award to honor during its 2017 Celebrate Agriculture event, set for Nov. 3-4 on the MSU campus.

The annual award honors those who have exhibited abundant leadership in Montana public service as an agricultural producer, industry advocate, agribusiness leader or as a friend of agriculture. The award is part of the college’s annual Celebrate Agriculture event, and awardees will be celebrated during the college’s Harvest Breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The award represents the important relationship between the land-grant mission and the agricultural community, according to MSU Vice President of Agriculture Charles Boyer.

“This award has a long and special history in the College of Agriculture, because it highlights the good work done by people who represent agricultural leadership in Montana,” Boyer said. “It’s also important for our students to see examples of the impact that agriculture, when combined with dedicated public service, can have.”

Successful award applicants will be: well respected in their agricultural community; actively involved in the agriculture industry with accomplishments that impact many; an industry leader or an upcoming, active and innovative producer; or have a lifetime of achievement in agriculture. Current MSU, state or federal employees will not be considered, except in the friend of agriculture category. Past MSU, state or federal employees need to have been retired for a minimum of two years and have shown service above and beyond their job requirements to be considered. Nominees who are not selected this year will be reconsidered the following year, but applications should be updated with current information.

In 2016, Jim Hagenbarth of Hagenbarth Livestock in Dillon won the award.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, Aug. 29, and forms should be received at 202 Linfield Hall, MSU, Bozeman, MT, 59717, by that date. Nomination forms may be downloaded at: http://agriculture.montana.edu/celebrateag/.

Celebrate Agriculture is an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of Montana agriculture and the impact that the land-grant tradition has on communities across the state of Montana, the nation and the world. The event includes a dinner hosting the college’s student scholarship award winners, a public breakfast and current agricultural-related research highlights. All events are free and open to the public. The MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics will also host an outlook conference on Friday, Nov. 3. Details for the event are forthcoming.

Time to Survey for Alfalfa Weevil

Written by Kevin Wanner and Emily Glunk

Alfalfa weevil is the key insect pest of alfalfa, causing variable levels of economic damage across Montana each growing season. After mating the female weevils lay their eggs in alfalfa stems, and newly emerged larvae crawl up to the developing terminal buds where they chew small “pin” holes in the leaves. The larvae develop through four instar stages (Figure 1); the larger 3rd and 4th instar larvae feed openly on unfurled leaves and cause the largest economic loss. Severe feeding damage will give the field a “frosted” appearance. Mature larvae develop into the next generation of adults that leave the alfalfa field to find overwintering sites. In Montana there is one generation per year. The majority of crop damage occurs prior to the first cutting as a result of feeding by larger larvae. Management decisions are based on surveying the number of weevils to determine if their population will exceed the economic threshold, the point that warrants action to be taken.

Alfalfa weevil sampling should begin in the spring when the stand is about 8 to 10 inches tall. Weevil populations can be estimated using sweep nets (net with a 15 inch diameter, can be purchased online) or by shaking alfalfa plants in a bucket. An average of 20 alfalfa weevil larvae per sweep meets the economic threshold for action. Ten sweeps are taken at each of 3-5 five sites in a field (30-50 sweeps per field) and the total number of weevil larvae counted to determine the average per sweep. An alternative is to cut 10 stems from each of 3-5 different sites in a field (30-50 stems per field) and shake the stems in a bucket to collect the larvae. An average of 1.5 – 2.0 larvae per stem meets the economic threshold for action. To get an accurate average more samples are required for larger fields. A minimum of three samples are recommended for fields up to 20 acres, four samples for fields up to 30 acres and five samples for larger fields. Based on historical weather data, sampling for alfalfa weevil in Montana typically begins between May 24 and June 16, depending on the location and the seasonal weather.

Typical dates that alfalfa weevil monitoring begins in Montana:

Sidney – May 24.    Glasgow – May 29.   Lewistown – June 13.   Kalispell – June 7.   Dillon – June 10.   Bozeman – June 8.   Red Lodge June 16.

When the economic threshold has been met (more than an average of 20 larvae per sweep or 1.5-2.0 larvae per stem) action is required to preserve yield. If stand growth is sufficient early harvesting is the most effective and economic action. If early harvesting is not an option then an insecticide can be used to reduce weevil populations below economically damaging levels. Additional management information including insecticide options is listed online in the High plains IPM guide: http://wiki.bugwood.org/HPIPM:Alfalfa_Weevil

Additional video resources:

MSU alum Norm Asbjornson donates $2 million to MSU’s Montana Plant Sciences Chair

BOZEMAN – Montana State University and the MSU Alumni Foundation announced today that longtime university supporter Norm Asbjornson has given $2 million in support of the Montana Plant Sciences Chair, the first endowed chair in the MSU College of Agriculture. The chair will formally be named the Winifred Asbjornson Plant Sciences Chair in honor of Asbjornson’s hometown of Winifred, where he grew up during the Depression.

Asbjornson’s gift brings the university to within $200,000 of its $5 million goal for the endowment. The gift also marks the beginning of the fourth year of the endowment’s five-year fundraising plan. MSU plans to meet the remaining $200,000 through private development, according to Kevin Brown, senior director of development with the MSU Alumni Foundation.

The Montana Plant Sciences Chair was conceived five years ago, when theMontana Grains Foundation and dozens of other Montana farmers rallied together to invest $1 million from their own pockets for grains-focused research at MSU. In the following two years, an additional $1.8 million was raised from Montana producers and agribusiness.

“The investment from Montana producers in this chair has been remarkable,” said Charles Boyer, MSU vice president of agriculture.

Farmers across the state continue to battle pests like the wheat stem sawfly and other abiotic stressors that damage wheat yields and threaten a sustainable agricultural economy, and Montana wheat producers must be vigilant in keeping their crops healthy and viable, Boyer added.

MSU – the state’s oldest and largest land-grant institution – joined the grassroots call to bring a world-renowned scientist to the university who would help Montana grain growers remain competitive and sustainable through research tailored specifically for Montana’s current and future challenges in production agriculture. Together, Montana’s agricultural community and MSU challenged themselves to raise $5 million dollars in five years to bring a permanent endowed plant science chair to MSU.

The chair has since grown into a vision for expanding statewide support for Montana’s grain growers with the help of MSU faculty and the Montana Grains Foundation, Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Montana Grain Growers Association and a multitude of agribusinesses and grain producers.

Asbjornson, a 1960 mechanical engineering graduate from the MSU College of Engineering, said the future of food is in the hands of farmers. With that, he added, comes responsibility.

“We have a responsibility to support and invest in programs that can have enormous economic (impact) for Montana’s agricultural economy,” he said. “MSU understands how integral producers are to applied research for the state, and I’m excited to join the Montana agricultural community in support of this endowment.”

Asbjornson added that climatic, water, disease and pest threats will continue to stress Montana’s top crop, and that funds must be invested in technological research that produces top-quality wheat genetics for Montana growers.

Boyer said the endowment will allow the current Winifred Asbjornson Plant Sciences Chair, Hikmet Budak, MSU professor of plant sciences and plant pathology, to remain competitive in an integrative research program for Montana grains and find ways to strengthen the vitality of Montana wheat. Budak, who works closely with national and international advisory councils comprised of Montana farmers, agribusinesses, non-profit organizations and grower representative groups, said Asbjornson’s recent investment marks an important step for the chair’s future.

“The enormous generosity of Mr. Asbjornson will ultimately transform the ability of Montana grain growers to remain sustainable and profitable, from research provided by the state’s cornerstone land-grant institution, because it is led by and has partnered with Montana producers,” Budak said. “On behalf of MSU and our important partnership with Montana producers and Mr. Asbjornson, we’re honored to name this cooperative chair after the agricultural legacy that Mr. Asbjornson will undoubtedly leave. I’m honored to serve as the first Winifred Asbjornson Plant Sciences Chair and look forward to meaningful successes alongside all who have given to this program.”

Budak’s lab focuses on innovative wheat genetics and genomics in response to pests and abiotic stress while adding nutrient value to wheat. Most recently, Budak, along with a team of 14 international scientists, successfully sequenced and mapped the genome – or complete genetic code – of durum wheat. Budak`s team is currently working on sequencing DNA and RNA code of a Montana winter wheat cultivar, Yellowstone, with an international consortium. Budak said the data is the first step to understanding which genes are present in the local wheat genome. Harnessing this knowledge to produce higher-quality Montana durum and bread wheat lines will also increase resistance to pests, environmental stress and disease, he added.

Research advancements have major implications for Montana wheat farmers, according to Lola Raska, executive vice-president of Montana Grains Foundation (MGF). Raska said the endowment is a lifetime commitment to Montana grain producers.

“MGF has worked hard over the last four years to take a vision to a reality,” Raska said. “This has been a collaborative effort by our farmers, their organizations and supporting businesses, and it’s inspiring we’re so close to full endowment, thanks to Mr. Asbjornson’s investment and confidence in Montana agriculture.”

Dale Schuler, MGF president, said the endowment’s success was always meant to benefit the industry by way of being anchored to Montana farmers.

“For our donors, this project has been about investing in Montana agriculture,” said Schuler. “We know that the collaborative nature of the endowment is an advantage for Montana farmers, and MSU has proven adept at connecting research to our at-large society.”

Gary Broyles, owner of Broyles Farms, Inc. in Rapelje, said he believes the chair’s research impact will transfer to other areas of food production.

“What’s wonderful about a program like this is that it has every potential to transcend beyond grains research,” Broyles said. “When you have the building blocks at the genome-sequencing level, it provides a pathway to other areas like nutrition and producing protein for a global food supply, so that the foundational programs in agriculture are in tandem with another.”

Asbjornson, who grew up in a one-room, 800-square-foot house, is the founder and CEO of AAON, a NASDAQ-traded heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with annual revenues of $400 million and more than 1,800 employees. In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from MSU and the Montana Board of Regents.

Asbjornson has funded five endowments with the MSU Alumni Foundation, four of which are scholarship endowments and one that focuses on rural education initiatives through the Winifred Asbjornson Rural Education Initiatives Fund.

In addition to Asbjornson, names of the supporters of the Winifred Asbjornson Plant Sciences Chair can be found at msuaf.org/pscdonors.

Contact: Kevin Brown, senior development director, MSU Alumni Foundation, kevin.brown@msuaf.org or (406) 994-4815