Supporting food and agriculture

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

Montcalm 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 percent of the total economic impact of Michigan’s agricultural products.

Addressing agriculture pests and disease

Educating growers on the presence of Potato Late Blight and its impact to their business and discussing the latest strategies to fight against and prevent it, getting the word out in regard to the new disease Dickeya black leg were some of the topics that came up at numerous Consultants breakfasts hosted by MSU Extension Educator, Fred Springborn. Fred also held four pest management and pesticide review sessions in 2017. Of the attendees surveyed, Fred found that over 80 percent reported learning something that would reduce their risk in the coming season and 62 percent indicated that they learned something that would increase profitability. As pests such as the Brown Marmorated stink bug get closer to the dry bean area, up-to-date information and research is critical. The MSU Extension Field Crops Team provides research-based knowledge to address the needs of field crop producers including strategies for managing production risks and advancement of efficient farming practices that enhance profitability while protecting soil and water resources. Participants learn how to optimize and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and how to conserve and protect water resources. This education leads to better use of time, money and human capital, and helps retain and create agricultural jobs.

Providing up-to-date evidence-based research

  • The Western Bean Cutworm continues to be a pest that Fred Springborn focuses on due to the damage to grain corn, sweet corn, seed corn and dry beans in Central Michigan. Fred is testing a new type of monitoring device that will continue in the 2018 growing season. It is work like this that may lower the cost of monitoring such pest populations, which will greatly benefit Montcalm county growers.
  • Dry Beans and soybeans were impacted by drought and floods in 2017. This combination can cause significant damage to crop yields. Fred’s work with the Montcalm Disaster committee brought critical information to support a disaster recommendation. It is experience and data that lead the group to make some careful decisions.
  • Increasing yields is at the bottom line. Work with soybean and corn growers through yield contests provides a valuable service to the agricultural community and gives an opportunity to discuss inputs and practices with Extension Educators.

Enviroweather - MSU Research Center, Montcalm, 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 Montcalm and surrounding farmers. This online resource provides ‘local’ weather information and weather-based tools. There are currently 78 weather stations throughout Michigan, the one pictured is based north of Stanton at the MSU Research Center.

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 influences crop and pest development and management decisions. For example, wind speed and direction for drift management, temperature to prevent phytotoxicity that may result from applications on hot days, insect and pathogen development are all influenced by weather.

Model predictions allow growers to prepare to take management action if necessary. Enviroweather tools are intended to assist, not dictate, management decisions. The decision to take management action should be influenced by several factors including: a history of problematic pests, the current season pest pressure, susceptible crops, and past and predicted weather events.

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.

MSU Research Center, Montcalm, County

The research center located in Montcalm County provides local growers and producers valuable information to improve practices and outcomes. In addition to a potato specialist, the research center is utilized by soil, forage and fertility specialists, field crop, potato and sugar beet pathologists, soy bean, potato and dry bean breeders, soil biologists, soil ecologists, vegetable entomologists, weed scientists and cropping systems agronomists. The potato, dry bean, soy bean and corn industries all benefit from the work conducted at the center. The field research activities include potato variety evaluation, cultural practices, fertility and weed, insect and disease control. Michigan ranks ninth in the nation in potato production and is the No.1 producer of chipping potatoes in the country. The center is also home to the Burt Cargill Potato Demonstration Storage facility which consists of two buildings that, combined, house nine 575 cwt. Bulk potato storages. Although the primary focus of the research center is potatoes, the center has become the second-most important home of university dry bean research behind the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center in Frankenmuth.

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