Fourteen PSM Faculty members and eight academic specialists have extension assignments, ranging from 5% to 88% of their appointment. Additional faculty (including fixed term) and staff have extension activities that are part of their research program, yet do not have a formal extension appointment. PSM provides programming in fruit, vegetable, nursery, landscape and ornamental, turf and field crops pathology, manure and nutrient management, soil resources and biology, cropping and forage systems, turf management, and weed management. Faculty, specialists and staff serve farmers, farm advisors, farm supply industries, Extension Educators, professional turf managers and homeowners. The extension program is active in diverse areas including cropping systems, land use, waste management, turf management, soil fertility, soil management, weed science, and plant pathology. Programs include field, county, and regional meetings, demonstration trials, and electronic communication that serve Michigan growers, Extension Educators, and consultants. Much of the applied research that has been accomplished at MSU has been completed by Extension Specialists. Information generated by our research is pertinent to other states and areas throughout the world that have comparable climatic conditions and cropping systems. Faculty work with commodity groups, growers, urban clientele, consultants, government agencies, and other researchers and extension specialists to solve problems. Plant pathologists work closely with the Interdisciplinary Diagnostic Clinic to assist in providing diagnoses and recommendations. PSM Extension programs are increasingly based on grant and contract objectives that include extension components. Thus, funding from industry sources, Project GREEEN, and state/federal agencies often support salaries and operations for PSM’s Extension programs. In addition, our Extension Faculty collaborate with Extension Educators around the state to develop programs that focus on current topics and align with MSU Extension’s plan of work.
Training graduate students and postdoctoral scientists is an important role for our Extension Specialists. Science professionals with experience in applied field research and extension are needed as future employees to support a strong agricultural economy in Michigan and throughout the U.S. Due to the nature of the Extension Specialist’s role and their connection to industry, their students are well trained and in high demand for jobs in academia, regulatory agencies, and industry. Undergraduate education is also provided by many Extension Specialists though many do not have formal teaching appointments.
Diagnostic Services was established in 1999 as a multi-disciplinary plant health and pest diagnostic facility. Diagnosticians specializing in plant pathology, entomology, nematology, and weed science work as a team to diagnose plant health and pest-related problems and provide recommendations. Samples are received from growers, homeowners, nursery and landscape professionals, agribusiness specialists, pest control personnel, county extension and campus specialists, and regulatory agencies. Extension specialists interact with Diagnostic Services to provide input on samples and recommendations. Some commodity groups (e.g., soybean and wheat) pay sample fees for their growers. In total, the services provided by Diagnostic Services benefits growers by facilitating crop exports and protection against invasive species, information that is provided in a timely manner. The Soil and Plant Nutrient Lab has a mutually beneficial relationship with Extension. Soil testing provides Extension with an opportunity to build relationships with farmers and homeowners. Fertility recommendations offered through this lab are developed in collaboration with Extension Specialists.