Ingham County supporting food and agriculture 2017

When you support MSU Extension, you help participants learn profitable and efficient business and production practices.

Ingham County—A strong agricultural producer

Michigan agriculture continues to be a growing sector of the state’s economy. Although Michigan may be best known for its specialty fruit, vegetable, and floriculture industries, field crops comprise the largest cropping sector in Michigan in terms of acreage, farms, farmers, and income. Field crops grown in Michigan include soybeans, corn, alfalfa/ hay, wheat and small grains, as well as important specialty row crops like potatoes and dry beans. Michigan’s diverse livestock industry is also a significant component of the state’s agricultural industry. The economic impact of livestock and dairy products accounts for 37% of the total economic impact of Michigan’s agricultural products.

Consumer Horticulture, pests, diseases and a variety of garden questions

Diane Brown serves Ingham County as part of the MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture team. Home gardeners need reliable sources for gardening information. The Gardening in Michigan website, to which Diane regularly contributes, is a hub for disseminating information about key initiatives such as Smart Gardening, Master Gardener, the toll-free gardening hotline, soil testing, and Ask an Expert as well as being linked to current and past articles and tip sheets of interest to home gardeners. In 2017, there were 2,083,631 page views of home gardening related topics on the MSU Extension websites.

By offering walk-in plant and pest diagnostics at the Mason office, Diane provides a valuable service to the residents of Ingham and surrounding counties. For example, the picture shows a clump of dried grass that was lodged in a homeowner’s window. Curious, and a little concerned that it might be something harmful, she brought it to the Ingham Extension office. Diane was able to identify that the cocoons in the clump were in fact, grass-carrying wasps, a harmless species that feeds on tree crickets!

Providing up-to-date research-based programs

In addition to the web presence and diagnostic services, Diane offers a variety of in-person programs. Whether it’s how to grow strawberries or teaching park managers how to manage tree pests, she brings a practical, research based expertise to her program participants. Diane says, “Although there is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance’ landscape, you can cut the work down considerably by making good plant selections. There are trees and shrubs that are virtually pest-free that can add multiple seasons of interest to your yard and do not require a lot of maintenance.”

Smart Gardening

Do you want to improve your vegetable garden this year? Have you tried composting but don’t quite have the hang of it yet? Participants in one program received tips on topics such as growing vegetables and a lesson on how to make compost to help ensure their garden’s success.

Smart Gardening is MSU Extension’s campaign using earth-friendly messages to help gardeners make smart choices in their own backyards. The goal is to equip gardeners with a “tool kit” of research-based knowledge to use immediately at home. Whether choosing plants, using fertilizer, managing pests or applying water, gardeners need to understand the long-term impacts of their gardening practices on their communities. Smart Gardening is online and is live at farmer’s markets and venues like the Lansing Home and Garden Show.

Smart Gardening is just one example of the many resources available through MSUE to gardeners who aim to grow fresh produce or nurture beautiful lawns and landscaping.

Enviroweather - MSU Research Center, Ingham County

Enviroweather Weather Data and Pest Modeling aims to help users make pest, plant production and natural resource management decisions in Michigan by providing a sustainable weather-based information system. Pictured left, is not a lunar landing craft but is a high-tech information gathering device that feeds an online resource for Ingham County and surrounding farmers. This online resource provides ‘local’ weather information and weather-based tools. Ingham County is home to three weather stations; Charlotte, East Lansing, and Haslett, MI. To view live statistics gathered by these stations, go to and click on the desired location.

Each station provides readings every 30 minutes on air temperature, soil temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, precipitation, and leaf wetness. There are different components of Enviroweather that deal specifically with field crops, fruit, vegetables, trees, turfgrass, and landscape/nursery.

Weather conditions and patterns influence crop and pest development and management decisions. For example, wind speed and direction for drift management, temperature to prevent phytotoxicity, and insect and pathogen development are all influenced by weather.

Enviroweather is a collaborative project of: Michigan Climatological Resources Program & the MSU Integrated Pest Management Program. It is supported by: Project GREEEN, MSU AgBio Research, MSU Extension, private donors, and the MSU departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Entomology, Forestry, Geography, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology.

On-site training, farm visits and general education

MSU Extension Dairy Educator, Faith Cullens, and her colleagues provided education and consultation throughout 2017 to help improve the lives of local dairy farmers. There were educational opportunities for employers, employees and the general public to learn about the important issues facing Michigan’s Dairy Industry and the parts played by both producer and consumer. 2017 programs included:  Spanish for Dairy Farmers - This program included 6 weeks of instruction for a limited class size. The classes were taught by a Spanish speaker to help participants learn common phrases used on the farm, as well as help with pronunciation and sentence structures.

  • Dairy Nutrition Roundtables - Roundtable discussions were held for new information as well as common experience to be shared.
  • Animal Handling - Presentations in regard to the importance of passive transfer on calves.
  • Antibiotic Use - Presentations and discussion on the prudent use of antibiotics for dairy animals.
  • Farm Visits - Visits to local farms to assess feeding systems or in some cases to include out farm business management colleagues to assess the financial strength of local operations.

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