Potato grower Walther Farms hosts EPA staffers during Michigan IPM Alliance tour

News Category: State News

The Michigan Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Alliance hosted members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) pesticide regulatory team for tours of several Southwest Michigan farms and agriculture-focused facilities this week. Their stops included potato grower Walther Farms, seed corn grower J&H Farms, the Pioneer plant in Schoolcraft, and ag retailer Keystone.

At Walther Farms near Three Rivers, tour takers got to see a potato seed treatment line, chemical storage facility, and a host of high-tech monitoring and application equipment. The team at Walther Farms also took the group to a potato field, where they got to examine plants and tubers approximately halfway through the growing season. The Walther Farms staff educated attendees for more than two hours and fielded dozens of questions. Topics included which pathogens and insects pose the biggest risks, rates of applications, moisture monitoring, biologicals, and many others.

“It was great to have the EPA and MDARD on our farm to see what we do and why we do it,” said Ryan Norton, farm manager, Walther Farms. “They asked a ton of great questions. Really, the questions drove the conservation, and that’s a sign of good communication.”

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Attendees of the Michigan IPM Alliance's tour learn about field equipment in front of the potato field in Three Rivers, Michigan.
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Members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examine a sprayer at Walther Farms in Three Rivers, Michigan, on June 25, 2024.
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Walther Farms agronomist Matt Kubowitsch, left, and ag technology specialist Donnie Cochran, right, hold up visuals as they speak about field monitoring. 
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Walther Farms Farm Manager Ryan Norton, back, addresses attendees of the Michigan IPM Alliance's EPA/MDARD tour on June 25, 2024.