Enhancing the Integrated Pest Management Academy to Provide Professional Development Opportunities for Agricultural Educators that Increase Economically and Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture in Michigan

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $72,484.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Erin Lizotte
MSU Extension, Suite 400

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, hops
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), cherries, grapes, peaches, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: chestnuts
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, cucurbits, sweet corn, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mating disruption, prevention, sanitation, traps, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    Integrated pest management (IPM) offers agriculture a sustainable approach to deal with evolving pest challenges such as new invasive species, climate change, and pesticide resistance. Following a successful pilot IPM Academy in 2012, we are proposing to broaden the reach in 2013 and 2014 to amplify the program’s impact by training sustainable agriculture educators and advisors from public and private sectors. Participants will then serve as educators for the broader agricultural community. The target audience includes crop consultants, state department of ag personnel, Natural Resource Conservation Service employees, and early-adopters from Michigan and surrounding states. Scholarships will be offered to 8 educators through NCR SARE coordinators. The Academy will be a two-day professional development program covering fundamentals of pest management and identifying resources and technology for sustainable ag practitioners. Timely topics such as extreme weather effects or newly introduced pests will be identified and featured. At least 6 crop-specific bulletins regarding sustainable production will be developed in support of the Academy and for participants use. An advisory group of farmers and representatives of the target audience will help develop the Academy content to ensure a relevant curriculum and well attended program. Academy participants gain a solid foundation in sustainable pest management, knowledge of the resources provided by Michigan State University and its partners, and the ability to share this knowledge with their farm clientele. Our long-term goal is to increase sustainable agriculture through expanded adoption of IPM strategies that improve crop efficiency; minimize pesticide use and enhance environmental quality.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    As a land grant University, we are looking to increase the impact of our programming by focusing on producing more educational programming and resources for the governmental, private and public sector educators that support and provide services to producers. By modifying programs to target sustainable agriculture educators and advisors, we can amplify the impact and reach of these resources and more significantly increase the adoption of IPM strategies that support sustainable agriculture. The unique access of educators and advisors in the target audience to diverse sectors of the industry will also make new audiences aware of the sustainable agriculture resources available. We believe the Academy is a model that could be modified and replicated in other North Central states. To encourage this option, we will offer four $500 scholarships annually to educators from other North Central states to attend the Academy. We will work with the NCR SARE coordinators to identify the scholarship recipients and will share our experiences with them.
    The target audience for the proposed program includes educators from governmental agencies (Natural Resource Conservation Service, Conservation Districts, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program Technicians), the private sector (crop consultants, scouts, chemical representatives, industry leaders, early adopters), and members of the public sector (Extension Educators, University Specialists). We are collaborating with representatives from these sectors to ensure participation and the development of targeted and highly relevant programs and resources.
    The resources to support this project include the time and expertise of more than a dozen MSU Specialists and Extension Educators who work in sustainable agriculture as well as University technical and support staff. These Specialists and Educators will collaborate to generate the curricula for the Academy and the associated bulletin resources. Stakeholders from the public and private sector have been carefully selected based on past partnerships and strategic relationship-building to support future collaboration in disseminating sustainable agriculture information and participation in the Academy.
    Existing resources include 11 pocket-sized IPM scouting guides developed by MSU specialists. Academy participants will receive the guide for identifying natural enemies plus a crop-specific guide of their choice. Another asset is MSU’s Enviro-weather, a website of weather-based tools and models for practicing IPM based on real-time weather data. Use of Enviroweather by fruit growers was estimated to reduce pesticide input by 306,238 lbs. active ingredient per year and have a total economic impact to the state of Michigan of $1,785,685. An introduction to Enviro-weather will be part of the Academy program.
    The IPM Academy training will be a 2-day program during the winters of 2013 and 2014. It will provide educational sessions and resources that prepare sustainable agriculture educators and advisors to assist beginner and advanced producers in adopting or increasing their use of sustainable pest management practices in specific production systems. The first day will include preparative discussions covering introductory components for understanding IPM (entomology, scouting, and plant pathology etc.). Each year the Academy will also address timely obstacles to sustainable agriculture such as global climate change, extreme weather events, pesticide resistance or invasive pests. Pertinent issues will be identified through an on-line survey of MSU Extension News readers, a website that receives over 2,500 visits a day. The final topics will be selected by the advisory panel consisting of growers, educators, and governmental agencies.
    On the second day of the program, educators will have the opportunity to opt into two concurrent sessions that address specific pest and disease issues and identify IPM resources. Sessions will be available in at least 8 of the following cropping systems each year: fruit (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, blueberries, pome fruit, and stone fruit) vegetables (cucurbits, cole crops, onions, peas, beans, sweet corn, asparagus, tomatoes, and peppers), hops, woody ornamentals (conifers, deciduous trees, and shrubs), small grains and forages (wheat, alfalfa, and mixed hay), and field crops (corn and soybeans).
    Additionally, the group will publish at least six bulletins to support IPM education. The content developed will address a number of cropping systems potentially including, but not limited to ornamentals, vegetables, fruit, conifers, hops, small grains, forages, and field crops. These resources will be available for use by the attending educators for future programming and outreach purposes.
    The Academy will build the capacity of MSU to provide science-based resources to support partner organizations in Michigan. A past example is the partnership between MSU and MDARD to develop environmental risk mitigation *A*Syst resources which include dozens of bulletins and technician training programs developed and offered by MSU. The *A*Syst resources cover a variety of topics aimed to train new MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) Technicians and assist them in delivering the cropping system environmental risk assessments for Michigan Growers. The resources, bulletins, and professional development activities for the technicians who implement the program are most often generated and delivered by MSU. These technicians include dozens of local coordinators and technical service providers that assist farmers and reach an estimated 5,000 Michigan farmers annually. In 2011 the program hit a real milestone with 1,000 farms completing MAEAP verification and striving to protect natural resources using environmentally sound practices. The Academy strives to meet this level of success in supporting sustainable agriculture through the increased use of IPM practices and resources.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.