More than 10 million acres of Michigan’s rolling hills, picturesque shoreline and fertile farm fields are devoted to agriculture. It is very likely that the results of Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs), Michigan’s plant agriculture initiative based at Michigan State University (MSU), research and outreach efforts have somehow affected many of the farmers nurturing that land.
Project GREEEN is unique – no other university has structured its plant research and Extension programs this way. The partnership Project GREEEN has forged between producers, industry, state government and MSU sets the standard for integrated research and information delivery to swiftly and efficiently solve grower and processor problems.
Growers, food processors and consumers all benefit from Project GREEEN contributions to Michigan’s plant agriculture-related industries. The initiative fosters a strong partnership between MSU and the state’s plant commodity groups by working together to respond to grower needs and encourage integration and multidisciplinary programming in production management research, market research and value-added projects that would otherwise be impossible.
Project GREEEN celebrated a major milestone - its 10th anniversary - in 2007. Originally known as the Plant Initiative, Project GREEEN is a collaborative effort by plant-based commodities and businesses in cooperation with AgBioResearch (formerly the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station), MSU Extension, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to advance Michigan’s economy through its plant-based agriculture. Its mission is to develop research and educational programs, ensure and improve food safety and protect and preserve the quality of the environment.
For fiscal year 2011, Project GREEEN awarded nearly $1.3 million in grants to 50 new research projects. Forty-four continuation proposals seeking more than $1.1 million in available funds were received for projects that started in 2009 or 2010.
Research projects were funded in the categories of basic research, applied research and Extension/education/demonstration. New projects were funded across the spectrum of Michigan’s plant agriculture industries, on topics ranging from discovering new opportunities for food processing and managing invasive weeds in fruit to investigating hop production in Michigan and creating a wheat initiative in the state.
Looking to the future ...
Project GREEEN strives to develop innovative, integrated ways to address emerging and unexpected insect, disease, weather, regulatory and economic factors to benefit everyone involved with plant agriculture, from producer to processor to consumer. It has set a standard for integrated plant agriculture research and education because it has the ability to solve grower and processor problems rapidly and allows plant agriculture and processing industries to maximize their potential.
As Project GREEEN enters its 14th year of supporting research, teaching and Extension, the question is: has Project GREEEN met its mandate? All signs point to yes. Michigan agriculture is a $91.4 billion industry employing more than 1 million people. With many years to come of Project GREEEN impact, Michigan will be even better positioned to remain a major and competitive player in the global agricultural community.