2016 Academic Infrastructure Reports

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Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics

Project GREEEN funds assisted the department on data collection for two topics related to international trade policy: U.S. trade and tariffs with the 10 countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and U.S. trade and economic data with Cuba. Data was collected on trade flows, both to and from the U.S. The data will be used to analyze the potential impact of the TPP agreement on U.S. agricultural exports and imports with the TPP nations. Particular focus will be placed on those agricultural products produced in Michigan. In Cuba, data was collected on the economic conditions of the country and will be used to analyze the potential impact of the reopening of trade between the U.S. and Cuba, particularly with regard to agricultural goods. For both projects, publications and Extension information will be completed and disseminated in 2016 and 2017.

In addition, the MSU Product Center, with help from Project GREEEN funding:

  • Provided help to businesses through 5,996 counseling sessions.
  • Helped Michigan businesses create or retain 175 jobs.

MSU Extension: Agriculture and Agribusiness

Project GREEEN funds are being used to develop a small grants program within Agriculture and Agribusiness (AABI) called AABI GREEEN. Extension educators submit proposals quarterly for review by two AABI Work Team Leaders and the AABI director. If funded, the educator initiates a one-year project and must complete a final report. To date in 2016, the program has funded three projects:

  • Nitrogen and moisture retention in conservation tillage squash systems.
  • Exploring multispectral aerial imagery as a crop scouting tool for precision agriculture.
  • Preparing underserved and minority berry growers for third-party GAP audits under the new FSMA.

Results from these projects will be available in 2017.

The Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

Project GREEEN funding helped researchers in this department continue to engage in its mentoring efforts and to design a monitoring system that efficiently identifies black spot disease in Michigan potatoes. Additionally, funding was used to support the maintenance and data collection of a second monitoring system used to detect white mold in soybean crops.

In addition, Project GREEEN dollars were invested in:                                                             

  • System design and analysis of zoological waste management project.
  • Fabrication and design of temperature inversion monitoring system in apple and cherry orchards.
  • Delivering improved methodologies for the food product industry for wastewater remediation on cropped land.

The Department of Entomology   

For several years, the department has created and carried out effective pollinator and pollination programs. In 2015, these programs were integrated into one: the Michigan Pollinator Initiative. This enterprise works to support pollinators and the Michigan producers who rely on them through the coordination of MSU research, education and policy-driven efforts to protect pollinators and address current and anticipated issues related to protecting these important insect groups.

Researchers and MSU Extension educators in this department also used Project GREEEN support to further the use of trunk-injection methods that protect ash trees from emerald ash borer attacks. Their efforts saved cities and municipalities across the state an estimated $100 million in tree removal costs.

Other accomplishments made with the help of Project GREEEN include:

  • The Bug House serves as a significant outreach mechanism, providing 108 school tours, 24 open house events and 16 outside events, reaching nearly 10,000 community members last year.
  • Developing and implementing mindful, cost-effective integrated pest management (IPM) programs for Michigan vegetable growers.
  • Rapidly responding to the demands invasive insects, such as spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stinkbug and emerald ash borer, place on farming and IPM systems.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Project GREEEN support was used to maintain and service all essential equipment in the Flour Milling and Baking Labs by the Biosystems Agricultural Engineering R&D Shop at MSU. The maintenance is critical for conducting sound researcher in the Michigan wheat quality research effort.

Funds were also vital to getting the fruit and vegetable plant running again. A state-of-the-art food dehydrator was added, as well as a new freeze dryer and repaired steam kettles. The freeze dryer is being used for researcher projects, and other departments have expressed interest in using it.

The Department of Forestry  

Funding from Project GREEEN were used in support of a shared-facilities concept being rolled out in Forestry, whereby different faculty who need similar lab space and equipment are making purchases collectively rather than have multiple labs with similar equipment. With these shared facilities, excess capacity is kept to a minimum and faculty are collaborating across disciplines. A drying oven was purchased to be used by various faculty to remove moisture from samples. The oven is currently located at the Kellogg Forest to facilitate a project, and plans are to relocate it to the main campus in the future. Resources at locations such as the Tree Research Center are being shared as well, including a vehicle.

The Department of Geography 

The primary use of Project GREEEN funds is for the Enviro-weather website (enviroweather.msu.edu). Enviro-weather provides detailed, high-quality weather information to the public for assistance in making weather-related decisions. Demand for the data and other products the system provides has grown significantly over time, from an average of 96 individual product accesses per day in 2006 to 606 per day in 2015. Peak usage rates can reach as high as 2,000 accesses per day during growing seasons.

Additionally, Enviro-weather:

  • Serves the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids, which collects Enviro-weather’s data for short-term weather monitoring and forecasting.
  • Upgraded 16 Enviro-weather stations with new loggers and sensors.

The Department of Horticulture     

The MSU AgBioResearch Horticulture Teaching and Research Center (HTRC) conducted research projects on its 180 acres with funding from Project GREEEN. The facility, which is part of the department and employs departmental researchers, is a prime location for research and outreach-related activities because of its close proximity to the MSU campus and its varied soil types.

The HTRC relies heavily on Project GREEEN funding for maintenance operations. Much of the funding is used to support on-call and temporary workers who cultivate, spray and fertilize field plots, set up irrigation and provide general project assistance.

One project at HTRC is focused on remediating container nursery run-off and assessing recycled water safety. The center also hosts CucCAP, which will create a collaborative, national initiative to develop and deliver breeder-friendly genomic tools for accelerated development of cucurbit cultivars.

The Department of Plant Biology 

Project GREEEN funds were used to provide information technology (IT) support for several large genomics, bioinformatics and quantitative projects. Many faculty members in the department use bioinformatics, genomics and quantitative biology in their research and rely heavily on the use of servers for computation. Because of the specialized programs used in this research, they cannot use the university computing facility and must maintain their own. More than half of the IT professional’s time is spent working with faculty members and maintaining the infrastructure that allows them to conduct their research.

With the help of Project GREEEN infrastructure funding, the Department of Plant Biology allocated funds to IT support that has allowed faculty members to generate more than $11 million in external research grants that meet Project GREEEN objectives and priorities.

The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences     

Funds from Project GREEEN that flow through this department are primarily used to support infrastructure needs at several MSU research sites and facilities. Project GREEEN funds keep the Agronomy and Plant Pathology farms operational, as well as supporting research and extension needs for faculty and staff. The installation of an underground irrigation system, a sewage system and a drain field was finalized this year. GREEEN funding was also used to contribute toward the construction of a research greenhouse program.

Many other project areas benefited from Project GREEEN funding, including:

  • Potato breeding
  • Sugarbeet breeding
  • Soil health
  • Soil fertility
  • Soybean breeding
  • Weed science
  • Agricultural modeling
  • Bioenergy and cropping systems
  • Disease management

More from 2016 Project GREEEN Legislative Summary

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