Academic Infrastructure Reports

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MSU Extension: Agriculture and Agribusiness

With the help of Project GREEEN, MSU Extension educators throughout the state were able to provide educational programs, agricultural and agribusiness consultation, and producer-centered outreach that addressed the concerns of Michigan growers.

Specifically, Project GREEEN and MSU Extension educators:

  • Helped producers reduce soil erosion and nitrogen water pollution while sustaining production yields.
  • Monitored the occurrence of spotted-wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink-bug and other invasive pests.
  • Developed pesticide recommendations that minimized the overuse of these products while still protecting crops.
  • Involved producers in the Upper Peninsula Forages Educational Program.
  • Formulated practices that use cover crops to reduce reliance on synthetic nitrogen applications.
  • Developed and delivered important information via workshops, MSU Extension educational articles, and MSU Extension digests (electronic newsletters).

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:                                                           

  • Delivering improved wastewater remediation methodologies to Michigan’s food product industry.
  • Contributing and analyzing data important to the development of devices that producers can use to monitor water tables in irrigated croplands.
  • Compiling and analyzing results of post-harvest vegetable storage studies.  

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:

  • Aiding Michigan’s landscape, nursery and turf management industries to control and manage European crane fly, insecticide-resistant whitefly and ants in golf course tees and greens.
  • 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 is critical to the department’s ability to create outreach and product testing opportunities for up-and-coming Michigan entrepreneurs. Funds were used to train and pay MSU undergraduate students who work on sensory, testing and food product development projects for MSUProductCenter clients as well as MSU researchers specializing in fruit, vegetable and other plant products.

This department also offers ongoing support to Michigan fruit, vegetable and dry bean growers and their respective commodity groups. Thanks to the help of Project GREEEN, this department can supply these stakeholders with a sensory lab and other facilities that act as agents of research, extension and education. Additionally, Project GREEEN support has helped Food Science and Human Nutrition researchers secure competitive grants, including Specialty Crop block grants and Michigan Strategic Growth Initiative grants.

The Department of Forestry  

With funding from Project GREEEN, the department was able to provide critical infrastructure support for the MSUAgBioResearchTreeResearchCenter and projects based there. The funding allowed researchers to maintain the 60-acre hybrid poplar bioenergy plantation that will supply the MSU power plant with wood chips, a renewable energy source. This operational-level project is an important testing ground and demonstration site for other landowners who hope to use marginal agricultural land for wood-based bioenergy production.

Additionally, Project GREEEN funds were used to:

  • Purchase equipment to supplement projects that support the U.S. National Forest Biomass and Carbon inventory.
  • Back projects focusing on wood science research, outreach and educational programming.

Other projects that benefitted from Project GREEEN support:

  • An improved biomass and carbon database for U.S. tree species.
  • Genetic resistance of beech trees to beech bark disease.
  • Treatment options and variation in ash species resistance to emerald ash borer.
  • Tree seedling responses to biochar amendments.
  • Genetic improvement of Scotch pine for Christmas tree production.
  • Recovery of wood from urban trees.

The Department of Geography 

The use of the Enviro-weather website (enviroweather.msu.edu) continues to grow exponentially. Since its launch in 2006, data requests and visitor hits have grown from fewer than 500 per day to an average of 20,930 per day during the peak season. This amounts to an increase of more than 4,000 percent. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids also uses this system, collecting its weather data for short-term weather monitoring and forecasting. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the MesoWest Network also rely heavily on the system to aid their forest and rangeland fire-prevention efforts.

Accomplishments made by Enviro-weather staff members with the help of Project GREEEN include:

  • Participating in conferences, workshops, meetings and symposiums across the state, providing presentations and updates, presenting posters, and distributing materials to educate users about the availability and benefits of Enviro-weather.
  • Partnering with nine major agricultural commodity groups, public policy groups and commissions to deliver sustainable weather-based information to the public.

The Department of Horticulture     

The MSU AgBioResearch Horticulture Teaching and Research Center conducted more than 40 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 center is one of a few sites where the bulk of its conducted research projects fall under the Project GREEEN umbrella. In light of this, much of the Project GREEEN funding that the department receives goes toward the maintenance of the center’s infrastructure. This year, funds were used to supply researchers with tillers, planters, cultivators, herbicide and pesticide sprays, small powered equipment, shop tools, tractors, trucks and irrigation, along with providing overall project support.

Efforts that benefited from Project GREEEN funds include:

  • Exploring the impact of neonicotinoids on bees.
  • Conducting IR-4 research on beets, chard, asparagus, blueberries, dill, edamame, raspberries and rosemary.
  • Studying the effects of tillage, moisture and rotation on soybean cysts and soil nematode communities.
  • Developing new apple varieties for Michigan production.
  • Closing the food cycle loop (composting on the MSU campus).

The Department of Plant Biology 

Project GREEEN funds were used to provide information technology (IT) support for several large genomics and bioinformatics projects. Several faculty members in the department conduct research that uses bioinformatics and genomics 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 person’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 $10 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. This year, the department installed an underground irrigation system on the east side of the Plant Pathology Farm, thereby providing reliable irrigation to all 35 acres of its fruit, vegetable and field crop research area. Researchers who utilized the MSU Agronomy Farm or any of the Plant Pathology Farm buildings, equipment and land could successfully lead projects because of the highly functional working conditions there.

Additionally, operating funds for MSU Extension specialists have allowed faculty members in the department to be more responsive to the needs of Michigan growers and commodity groups through research, extension and education. They’ve been equipped with direct links to producers, enabling them to respond quickly to their questions, concerns and research needs.

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

  • Spruce decline.
  • Fire blight management.
  • Potato and dry bean breeding.
  • Weed science.
  • Wheat, oat, barley, soybean and canola breeding.
  • Agricultural modeling.
  • Forages.
  • Bioenergy and cropping systems.
  • Scab resistance in potatoes.

More from 2015 Project GREEEN Legislative Summary

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