Free Grassland Workshops Available in Southern Michigan

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Throughout January and February, partners of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative will be providing free grassland management workshops to assist landowners in their CRP mid-contract management, as well as providing basic information on how to implement native grassland management. The events are being hosted by Michigan United Conservation Clubs and some local Conservation Districts, in partnership with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Department of Natural Resources.

“Native grasslands provide a multitude of valuable benefits including habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and pollinators, soil erosion prevention, and water quality protection. Plus, they are just beautiful to look at,” Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, Anna Mitterling stated. “The more abundant these grasslands are, the greater the impact on our wildlife populations, water quality, and much more. Wildlife species such as pheasants, deer, turkey, songbirds, the monarch butterfly, honey bees and others benefit or are dependent on connected sections of these native grasslands.”

The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is a group of a diverse set of partners who are seeking to see this habitat expand. There are habitat complexes on both private and public land that have seen increases in pheasant populations, as well as some threatened and endangered song bird populations as a result of native grasses being planted. The key to keeping these habitat types sustainable for wildlife benefit involve the grasslands being managed every three to five years. There are different ways to conduct this management, and these workshops will provide instruction and direction on how management can be accomplished.

“Management is very important to ensure the quality of our grasslands,” said Jason Myers Farm Bill Biologist. “This is even more important with CRP hitting the national cap. We need to focus on improving what we currently have instead of just adding more acres in CRP.” Jason covers Huron and Tuscola Counties. He, and other Farm Bill Biologists around Southern Michigan, provide free technical assistance and can help you with every step in your CRP contracts or other habitat projects.

These workshops are free and open to the general public. Registration is required. You can register for these events by emailing or leaving a voicemail with Anna Mitterling, at or 517-346-6454. Anyone interested in grassland management, or who owns property enrolled in CRP, is welcome to attend. Below is a list of locations these events will be held. Each event will start around 7:00 pm and will last approximately an hour.

Jan 17 - Ingham County, Alaiedon Township Hall, 2021 Holt Rd, Mason, MI 48854

Jan 20 - Gratiot County, Gratiot-Isabella RESD Building, 1131 E Center St, Ithaca, MI 48847

Jan 23 - Barry County, Baltimore Township Hall, 3100 E Dowling Rd, Hastings, MI 49058

Jan 30 - Tuscola County, Elmwood Township Hall, 6437 Lincoln St., Gagetown, MI

Jan 31 - Lenawee County, LISD Tech Center, 1372 N Main St, Adrian, MI 49221, Classroom #1

Feb 2 - Branch County, Coldwater Township Hall, 319 Sprague Rd, Coldwater, MI 49036

Feb 3 - Sanilac County, Sanilac County Training Center, 95 Dawson St, Sandusky, MI 48471

Tree Fruit Specialization Traning Opportunity February 1-3

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Conservation District Managers and MAEAP Technicians:


This year, the 2017 Michigan State University Tree Fruit IPM School will be eligible to serve as the training requirement for the Tree Fruit  MAEAP technician specialization.  Full event details are listed below.  To document that you participated, following the event please email me proof of registration.


Andrea Stay

Grants and MAEAP Training Liaison

Environmental Stewardship Division

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Cell Phone: 517-285-7482


Register for Tree Fruit IPM School by January 11th


Registration is now open for the 2017 Michigan State University Tree Fruit IPM School.  This year, the meeting will be held on February 1-3 at Hotel Indigo in Traverse City, MI. They will feature speakers that will address key challenges in orchard systems and how we can maintain and optimize IPM strategies in the 21st century, particularly in relation to invasive insect pests that have changed these strategies. We will also explore orchard diseases and how to balance disease control and resistance management.  Participants will learn how to identify and differentiate symptoms of traditional orchard insect pests, newer invasive species, diseases, and physiological disorders. Lastly, we have included important horticultural strategies to grow high quality fruit. 


We are pleased to announce that three guest speakers are on our lineup this year – Dr. Tracy Leskey, of USDA ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, will join us to share the experience and status of brown marmorated stink bug management from the perspective of growers in Eastern states.  Dr. Leskey will also present her latest research on spotted wing drosophila. Dr. Lailiang Cheng of Cornell University will address nutritional issues of apples, including nutrient requirements of Gala and mitigating bitter pit in Honeycrisp. Finally, Sara Villani of North Carolina State University Extension will discuss how to resist SDHI fungicide resistance and her latest research on apple scab management.


The cost of registration is $175 and includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, refreshments, beverages for the Pub Quiz Social Hour, and a binder with course materials. Dinner and lodging are on your own. Don’t forget to mention MSU IPM Fruit School for a discounted room rate at Hotel Indigo until January 22nd.  To register, please mail a check made payable to Michigan State University and a completed registration form (attached) to:


Jenn Zelinski

NW MI Horticultural Research Center

6686 S. Center Hwy

Traverse City, MI 49684

Registrations must be post-marked by January 11th. Questions? Please contact Emily Pochubay ( or Jenn Zelinski (, 231-946-1510.




Pesticide Container Recycling Program Changes

Friday, January 06, 2017

Pesticide Container Recycling Program Changes

The Michigan Pesticide Container Recycling Program has been a partnership between the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, the Michigan Agri-Business Association, the Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC), agri-chemical dealers, and pesticide users across Michigan since 1993.  For those of you unfamiliar, the program protects groundwater by promoting the proper rinsing and recycling of pesticide jugs and drums. 

Regional vendors for the program are contracted by ACRC for a three year period.  In Michigan the last few years the vendor has not met the need nor the unique requirements of our State which has been disappointing.  This year, however, a new vendor, G. Phillips & Sons, LLC, will be taking over the reins. I am very hopeful for the future success of the program.  They are very interested in working with interested Conservation Districts to facilitate collections with your local producers, either through coordinating with a local agri-business or scheduling a special collection day in your region. 

An additional way we hope to increase participation is through the purchase and placement of 3-4 balers regionally to help in areas where storage of containers awaiting pick-up has been an issue.  There is already one placed in Sunfield (Eaton County).  I am soliciting suggestions from you as to where we might place the others.  I would consider agri-businesses, USDA Service Centers/ conservation districts, golf courses, greenhouses, etc.  Landfill sites and recycling centers could also be considered IF the balers are only used for the PCR program and all containers taken in are collected by the ACRC vendor.  With this said, however, I am open to ideas.  It might be good for you to have a discussion with other MAEAP Techs in your area.

The basic requirements:

1.       The site, if a business, must be willing and able to take jugs from any agri-business or producer – competitors included.

2.       The site must be able to monitor the cleanliness / preparation of jugs coming in for collection.  This likely means that they have a place where the baler can be adequately stored/ fenced off.  It is OK to turn away containers that are not triple or pressure rinsed with loose labels, caps, etc. removed.

3.       The site must be willing to enter an agreement with MDARD.

4.       The site should be in an area with a lot of commercial and/or agricultural pesticide use – greenhouses, golf courses, lake treatment companies, pest companies, etc., should all be considered a part of this world.

If you have any thoughts on the balers please give me, Abby Eaton, a call at 517-284-5612 or email

If you think you might want to facilitate a collection in your area I encourage you to contact Stacy Bruinsma, G. Phillips & Sons coordinator for Michigan: 248-961-3360 or  For more information on the company and other things they recycle check out

MAEAP Database - getting a farm ready for verification

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Getting a farm ready for verification in the database

 Once you have completed everything on a farm and a farmer is ready to call in, you need to make sure that they are database ready for verification.  To do this, go to the Farm, and on the top middle click “check program status”.  If everything is ready, the system will say Tier 1 in the right column under program status.   

If not ready, you will receive a pop-up that lists the criteria and what is not being met (see attached screenshot). This is also described in your manual on the last page of the tech visit section.  I have listed below the requirements, and how to document that the farm is meeting each requirement. 

The requirements are

1.       At least 1 Tech visit (risk assessment) must be completed

·       To fix, go to farm, then create a new tech visit with a risk assessment. 

2.       Primary contact has completed Phase 1 Training

·         If they watched online videos, scan in the form and save it with the producer name as the file name.  Then in database   search “online Phase 1”, open that event, and add participant.  The system will prompt you to attach the file. 

·         If they attended a phase 1 event prior to 10/1/16, first create the contact and link it to the farm.  Then send the MAEAP secretary an email with the contact name and the date/name of the event.  The secretary can then add phase 1 credit to the contact profile.  For now, send to Heather Casteel until a new secretary is hired.

·         If they attended an event since 10/1/16, and you hosted it, you have the responsibility of adding them to the event.  For help on this, watch the video   If it was a regional event or neighboring county, the participation should have been added by Lansing MAEAP staff or the neighboring technician. 

3.       Stewardship Plan must include at least 1 action item

·       To fix, either add an action item under stewardship plan or go to tech visit (either create a new or edit an existing) and click the checkbox for “no action item”.

4.       No evidence of discharge on Add Farm Info

·       To fix, go to Farm, then Additional Info, If you have not started one yet, you will need to create a new additional farm info page.  There is a checkbox to check stating there is no evidence of discharge.

Once you have resolved all of the issues, go back to farm, click “check program status”.  If Tier 1 is now recorded,  the farm is ready to call in and request verification.                                          


Thank you and happy new year!

Andrea Stay

Grants and MAEAP Training Liaison

Environmental Stewardship Division

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Phone: 517-285-7482