Making the most of our natural assets

MSU Extension encourages better land stewardship that benefits communities by protecting and enhancing Michigan’s natural resource assets.

When you support MSU Extension’s natural resources education programs, participants learn about income-generating opportunities, ecological principles, natural resource issues and the role of natural resource professionals. They also explore public policy issues related to environmental stewardship. Our programs can lead to increased income for families that retain their natural resource assets, help landowners become better stewards of their land and protect land management opportunities for future generations. Better land stewardship benefits communities by protecting and enhancing Michigan’s natural resource assets.

Raising awareness of the benefits of cover crops

Cover crops are a hot topic in agricultural circles, thanks to an MSU Extension specialist’s message that is resonating with the right crowd. Dean Baas, a senior research associate, conducts cover crop and organic agriculture research and education.

Cover crops are plants seeded into agricultural fields, either within or outside of the regular growing season, with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining ecosystem quality. Environmental benefits include enhanced biodiversity, increased soil infiltration and attraction of honeybees and beneficial insects. Initial studies have shown that:

  • Farming benefits include reduced erosion, improved soil quality through increased porosity, soil organic matter and water-holding capacity, as well as the addition of beneficial microbes.
  • Cover crops help retain nutrients that otherwise would be lost.
  • Cover crops add nitrogen through fixation while combatting weeds and breaking disease cycles.

Woodlot Management Program

MSU Extension Educators Julie Crick, Kable Thurlow, Paul Gross, and Dennis Stein collaborated to bring a Woodlot Management Program for Gladwin County residents. The program featured speakers from the following organizations/agencies: Clare Conservation District Forestry Assistance Program, Natural Resource Conservation Service; MDARD’s Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP); private industry and MSU Extension Educators.

The evening session was attended by 12 people. A half day in the field was scheduled following the evening session. The field session in Gladwin County had six participants.

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