Increasing access to important field crop research with webinar series

Michigan State University Extension educators are reaching more farmers by providing an annual Field Crops Webinar Series.

Farmers come to Michigan State University to learn better management practices and new research developed.

Five years ago, Michigan State University Extension educators decided to change the way they conduct winter field crop programs by using a webinar format in addition to traditional in-person meetings. The annual Field Crops Webinar Series reaches underserved audiences who may have trouble attending regular programs due to scheduling conflicts, geography or ability. It gives participants the flexibility to join live sessions or access recorded versions online.

Through the webinars, experts share research results and key points pertinent to crop production for the upcoming year. Topics have included western bean cutworm, resistant and troublesome weed control, soybean sudden death syndrome and wheat stripe rust management, wheat inputs selection, soil fertility for field crops and forage, as well as cover crops for potato and soybean systems.

During 2016-17, 214 individuals from 50 Michigan counties, five other Midwest states, and Ontario participated in the program. As a result of the webinars:

  • Participants who responded to a survey collectively managed 383,047 total field crop acres.
  • $680,057 was projected in savings or added revenue to farms based on growers who indicated that they intend to implement 174 practice changes.
  • Participants earned 603 Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development pesticide applicator recertification credits.

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