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What's Next For A Cheatgrass-Fighting Bacteria That Could Soon Be Used In Idaho

Curtesy of Ann Kennedy
The left side of the photo shows an untreated section of cheatgrass compared to a plot treated with the bacterial compound on the right.

Ann Kennedy’s bacterial compound is called ACK55, and it has been shown to cut the amount of cheatgrass in half in just a few years.

The Department of Agriculture soil scientist is getting closer to seeing her discovery registered with the EPA, and is giving state and federal land managers hope in the battle against the invasive weed. Once it gets approved, farmers can begin using it to treat cheatgrass on their land.

But the process to get the compound approved for use on federal public land is a bit trickier. Kennedy and her team of students have tested the compound over and over again, hoping to make the registration process go faster. But the scientist says it could still take years to get approval.

Jim Lyons wants to break these federal barriers down. Lyons is with the Interior Department and flew from Washington D.C. to Boise to attend the Western Invasive Weed Summit last week.

“We see the need," says Lyons. "We agree with Dr. Kennedy, and we want to see if in fact it is as effective as it has been in the small test trials she’s done by applying it on a larger scale.”

Lyons was not able to give a timeline for the approval process, but says he wants the cheatgrass-fighting bacteria to be tested on Bureau of Land Management acres as soon as possible.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

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