Working together to strengthen and support noxious weed management efforts in Montana.

2014 Science Fair MWCA Award Winners

Friday, April 4th, 2014

University of Missoula State Science Fair 2014 has been held and the following are the winners of the MWCA Awards. Congratulations to these young Montanans for their work to bring further understanding and awareness to the noxious weed Issue.

Division I – High School


1.)    Efficacy of Targeted Sheep Grazing on Spotted Knapweed, Kate Johnston, Hellgate High School, Missoula: Kate Compared three locations that have been grazed by sheep at 3, 6, and 8 years as well as a control location to measure the efficacy of the sheep on spotted knapweed. She took core soil samples and counted the seeds in each sample and compared the amount of seeds at each location. She found that there is a statistical difference between no grazing and grazing, but no statistical difference between the numbers of years the sheep grazed the land.

Division II – Middle School


1.)    No Need for Knapweed, Taylor Noyes: Taylor designed her project to compare management procedures for spotted knapweed to determine which method is most successful. She compared mowing, hand pulling and herbicide. Taylor hypothesized that hand pulling will control the knapweed the best. She found that both hand pulling (as long as she pulled the entire root) and herbicide application both worked equally as well in her 8 week project timeline. She also found that mowing only set back the knapweed, but did not kill it.

2.)    Weeds Be Gone, Louis Ingalls: Louis posed the question: Do herbicides (Tordon and Tellar) that we used to kill Dalmatian toadflax, yellow toadflax and spotted knapweed also inhibit the growth of other broadleaf plants when residual in the soil? He gathered soil that had been sprayed with chemical two years ago and tried to grow pea plants. He also had a control of potted pea plants growing in healthy, untreated soil. The labels state that the chemicals are residual for 3-5 years, but Louis was interested in testing for himself to determin how much the residual chemical would affect the pea plants. He found that the peas growing in treated soil were significantly stunted compared to those growing in untreated soil.

3.)    The Effect of Post-Emergent Herbicide on Kochia, Hali Kapperud: The purpose of Hali’s project was to determine whether post-emergent chemicals will prevent the germination of kochia. She hypothesized that kochia will be resistant to glyphosate and 2, 4-D while Goldsky will kill the kochia. She tested this hypothesis by waiting for kochia seeds to germinate in a petri dish. She then sprayed each dish with a different chemical and kept a control in which she sprayed with water. Hali found that 2, 4-D controlled the kochia seeds the best and the seeds continued to grow as well as or better with glyphosate compared to water. Therefore, the seeds appeared to be resistant to glyphosate.

4.)    Blow the Whistle on Canada Thistle, Mickayla Johnston: The objective of Mickayla’s project was to determine the most effective way to control Canada thistle. She compared burning, tilling and adding a competition plant and using herbicide. She hypothesized that tilling and adding a competition plant would be the most effective form of control. After she tested a series of plots she had set up, Mickayla found that the herbicide treatment (Round-Up) was the most effective way of managing the Canada thistle and new weed emergence.

5.)    After the Bear Trap Fire: Part 2, Maida Knapton: Maida went to the site where the Bear Trap Fire occurred to measure the regrowth of the plants on the burned area. She wanted to know how fast the plants will grow, what will grow and will the same plants as last year grow. She has three sites as well as a control site that had not been burned in the fire. She counted the plants and measured them with a ruler to gage the growth of the plants. She found that the musk thistle has grown taller, there were no trees regenerating in the burned area test sites and there were no blue grama grasses growing in the burn versus the blue grama she has in her control. Her data shows more weeds in 2013 than in 2012. In the future Maida would like to know how to stop the cheat grass from invading the burned areas.


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