Monday, October 5, 2015

eBay: A Forum for Invasive Plant Trade

Auctions aren't just good for scoring rare collectibles and cheap second-hand items.  Individuals interested in rare and exotic species are using the site to buy and sell live specimens around the world.  Researchers from the Institute of Integrative Biology surveyed eBay and nine other auction websites for flora/plant species over 50 days.  Their survey found that 2,5625 plant species were available for purchase from 65 countries.  Of those species, 510 of them have been documented as an invasive concern somewhere in the world.  In fact, 35 of those species are on the list of top 100 invasive species put out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  This type of trade isn't monitored as intensively as shipping plants through typical retail exchanges, and can bring in more than just the desired plant.  People interested in diversifying their garden, should always check if there is a species native to their area that fits their need.  If a native can't be found, research any non-natives for invasive status before buying, as their fun new plant can cause years of battling the invasive tendencies and won't endear you to your neighbors if it spreads to their property.

Tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) Growing out of a bag of cow manure, in 1991 by Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Species Prevention Specialist,
Original Source Article: How eBay Could Be Messing Up the World’s Ecosystems

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Southern IPM Center announces Enhancement Grant Program

The IPM Enhancement Grants Program is a one of the key ways the Southern IPM Center address important issues affecting the region.  Groups interested in developing or implementing Integrated Pest Management solutions can apply for funding.  There is no restriction based on setting or commodity nor problems that are being addressed as long as the project is effectively bringing IPM to the region and has the potential to positively impact our region. This means that projects can range widely - from settings that include agriculture, urban and school environments, forestry, and wildlife to a wide variety of topics including invasive species management, organic pest management options, countering pesticide resistance, and development of new tools to assist in pest management decisions.

$220,000 is available this year with projects limited to $30,000 - $40,000 depending on project type The funding covers a one-year project, so please keep that in mind when considering your proposal. If interested, see for more information.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Montana Adds Three Species to their Noxious Weed List

If you don't know what the U.S. Noxious Weed Lists are, here is are some quick facts:

  • Separate Federal and State, and even some local/municipal/county lists exist
  • Federal Noxious Weed List was established by the Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974, was amended in 1990, and then was superseded by the Plant Protection Act in 2000
  • State and local lists can be created by different agencies in each state
  • Plants are added based on their ability to damage the environment, cause harm to persons, or disrupt the economy
  • Federally - Movement of listed plant species is restricted (without a permit)
  • Many of the plants were added specifically for their impact on agriculture or natural areas

As of July, 2015, Montana added three new invasive species to their state Noxious Weed List:

Parrot Feather Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum aquaticum [pictured] or M. brasiliense) by Graves Lovell, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,

Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) by U.S. Geological Survey Archive, U.S. Geological Survey,

common reed (Phragmites australis ssp. australis) by Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network,
These are all plants that are found in or near water.  They can choke out native plant species, thus minimizing the food sources for many aquatic species, and they can also dramatically alter the available light and nutrients.

Want to know more about these species and where they are found?

Common Reed - Maps, Species Information, and Images
Brazilian waterweed - Maps, Species Information, Wiki Article, and Images
Myriophyllum aquaticum - Maps, Species Information, Wiki Article, and Images

Source Article: State Adds Three New Invasive Plants to Noxious Weed List

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

USDA-NRCS SoilWeb App Shows You What's Under Your Feet

A free app available for iPhone and Android phones, SoilWeb provides users with in the field knowledge of the soil type wherever they are.  This smartphone app is the evolution of the Web Soil Survey online tool, a website which allowed users to explore soil information.  The app not only uses you smartphone GPS to give you all the text information about the soil series at your location, but it will also show a graphic of the soil horizon.  Having data in-field while making various decisions about management options will help users make more informed choices and will save time from having to physically dig the land up to learn the area. This tool will be useful for farmers, range land managers, conservationists, and anyone who may be concerned with managing land.

Excavated area showing soil horizons by Andrew Koeser, International Society of Arboriculture,
Source Article: A Smartphone App Provides New Way to Access Soil Survey Information

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mind Your Business – Hydroponics for Profit

Interested in Hydroponics? Want to make a profit from them? Check out this workshop: Mind Your Business – Hydroponics for Profit.

Learn how to create budgets for your operation, evaluate profitability of alternative systems, assess food safety policies and marketing ideas to increase your bottom line. The workshop is hosted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension’s Small Farms Academy on September 17th from 8:30 am to 3 pm at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center. Primary participant registration is $75 and $50 for one additional participant. Lunch and refreshments are included in cost. To sign up visit: Deadline to register is September 11th. For more information contact Dilcia Toro at or 386-362-1725 ext. 102.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Redbanded Stink Bug, an Emerging Pest on Soybeans

Redbanded stink bugs (Piezodorus guildinii) has been present in soybean fields for decades, but they were not found in numbers to consider it a pest of economic concern.  Growers were much more focused on other stink bugs, such as the southern green stink bug, green stink bug and brown stink bug and tailored their control efforts to reducing damage from the more populous insects.  However, after decades of treating for the other species, the redbanded stink bug has also developed some resistance to organophosphates, allowing their numbers to swell enough for them to be noticed in scouting events and cause economic damage.  Scientists have also been able to attribute damage from these insects to delayed maturity syndrome of soybeans.  Researchers advise rotating chemical insecticide options to help control the redbanded stink bugs populations.

Redbanded stink bugs (Piezodorus guildinii) by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia,

Source Article: Entomologists sniff out new stink bug to help soybean farmers control damage

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fraxinus, A Crowd-Sourced Citizen Scientist game

There are a few well known crowd-sourced projects which are used by researchers to compute large amounts of data or find solutions to problems which would be to taxing or expensive for a normal computer.  Sometimes also called games with a purpose, the data is presented in such a way as to resemble more of a game rather than endless pages of numbers.  Think Foldit, Zooniverse/Galaxy Zoo, or EteRNA.

A recently published article discussed a crowd-sourced game, Fraxinus, which was used to study the genome of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungus that causes ash dieback.  Fraxinus had players arranging sequences of DNA to make long chains of alignments.  Most interestingly, over half of the alignment answers, 74,356 of 154,038, were submitted by only 49 people, representing 0.7% of all the players.  The game proved again that crowd-sourced projects can be a viable tool to analyze large amounts of data and get the average citizen involved in the researching process.

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), the species of trees which were infected by ash dieback by Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft.,

To learn more about Fraxinus: Lessons from Fraxinus, a crowd-sourced citizen science game in genomics