Importance of Agriculture

Agriculture is the number one industry in Montana and MSU delivers a variety of programs and outreach services that enrich and advance the agricultural enterprise. Originally known as the Montana College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, agriculture has been a cornerstone of MSU’s academic and outreach efforts since its inception.

Pertinent Research

From crops and livestock to land management, MSU is researching issues that are specific to Montana. This research drives new innovations in agriculture such as new crop varieties and vaccines that help Montana producers. In particular, the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) is a high impact program focused on challenges faced by food producers. MAES conducts research in agricultural and natural resource systems at multiple locations around the state.

Statewide Service

The MSU county Extension offices and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station give MSU a statewide presence to serve communities all across the state. County Extension offices help to share research-generated knowledge by making it accessible and useful to individuals, families and communities.


Agricultural Marketing Policy Center (AMPC)

The purpose of the Agricultural Marketing Policy Center is to provide applied research and education, including extension education on agricultural marketing and related policy issues for informed decision-making by farm and ranch managers, public decision makers in rural communities and in local and state agencies, state legislators, and congressional delegations in Montana and the Northern Plains and Rockies Region.

Beef/Cattle Extension Program

The goal of the Extension Beef Program is to provide scientific, research based information to help producers create "low cost - high profit" cattle that yield a product desired by the consumer and manage resources in a sustainable manner while maximizing profits.

Agro–Security and Agro–Emergency Preparedness

This new program seeks to assist agricultural producers in preparing for all emergencies, as well as identifying where to get assistance during and after an event. Emergencies could be the result of bad weather, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, transportation accidents, or as a result of deliberate and malicious acts. In any case, a quick organized response to an emergency event will help protect human health and life while reducing or preventing animal disease and death, crop and facilities damage and economic loss.

Center for Invasive Plant Management

The Center for Invasive Plant Management (CIPM) serves as a western regional hub for invasive plant expertise. Working with state and federal agencies, Tribes, farmers, ranchers, the research community, Extension Services, county weed districts, and conservation organizations, the Center helps promote broader awareness and progressive sustainable solutions to invasive plant problems.

Cropping Systems

A cropping system is a producer’s map of their approach to production. MSU Extension offers online tools to help producers make informed choices. These tools will provide custom results for your operation. From variety selection to herbicide choice or scheduling water use for irrigation, these tools will help produces make educated decisions for farming operations here in Montana.

Equine Extension Program

The MSU Equine Extension program offers a wealth of equine related information, articles, resources, links and calendars.

Farm Management

The MSU Extension Farm Management program provides educational materials on Farm and Ranch Management, Financial and Economic Implications of Production Agriculture, Decision Support Software for Agriculture, Agricultural Policy and Commodity Support Programs and Risk Management.

Fire Services Training School (FSTS)

The Fire Services Training School provides training for community and volunteer firefighters who serve local fire stations all over Montana. The staff is a dedicated group of individuals around the state whose activities have significant impact on firefighter safety and insurance premiums paid by Montanans. In Plentywood, the Fire Chief credits FSTS with saving $200,000 in commercial premiums annually. FSTS has introduced virtually all of the innovations occurring in the past three decades for the safety and well-being of Montana’s firefighters. FSTS has improved the performance of 76 percent of community fire companies. Additionally, FSTS reduces the cost to the state of “project fires” by improving local fire company’s ability to make successful initial attacks. By bringing professional training to communities, FSTS significantly reduces training cost for local governments.

Food and Agricultural Systems Education

Food and Bioenergy Systems degree program, with a Sustainable Food Systems track offered through the Department of Health and Human Development. This major entails a great deal of service learning and internships that involve students in many communities and food and farm enterprises throughout the state. Locally, the Towne's Harvest Garden provides thousands of pounds of produce each summer to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, as well as to its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members and buyers at the local farmers markets.

Montana Agricultural Experiment Station

The Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) is a vibrant and high impact research and
outreach organization with statewide impacts in agriculture and natural resource communities. Selected research themes encompass small grain and livestock production; stewardship and management; bioenergy; integrated pest management; infectious diseases; sustainability; trade and policy analysis; and environmental sciences. MAES is a programmatic and financial partnership with the State of Montana and the USDA. State and local citizen-based advisory groups provide guidance on research activities to address future challenges from Montana’s largest industry with more than $3 billion in gross receipts.

Montana Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

IMP provides pest management information to agriculture and horticulture of Montana and surrounding states, prioritize and coordinate pest management research, extension and educational programs, and respond to the informational needs of the public and private sectors on a regional basis.

MontanaView - Geospatial Technologies

The MontanaView program provides workforce development programs, K-12 education, and emergency response support with respect to satellite remote sensing and geospatial technologies. MontanaView is part of the 37-state AmericaView consortium; MSU leads the MontanaView consortium, which included University of Montana, Montana Tech, Salish Kootenai College, and several other non-profit and governmental organizations.

MSU College of Agriculture

As a land grant institution, Montana State University provides education, research, and extension/outreach programs focused to meet the changing needs of Montana. The College of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station generate and disseminate superior knowledge and technological solutions to increase the competitiveness of Montana's agricultural and natural resources, preserve environmental quality, and improve the quality of life for all our citizens.

MSU Extension Cropland Weed Ecology and Management.

The Montana State University Extension Cropland Weed Ecology and Management program focuses on developing and delivering information on the integrated management of agricultural weeds. We provide plant identification through the Schutter Diagnostic Lab.

MSU Extension Entomology

Entomologists in three departments at MSU (Animal and Range Sciences, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology) engage in extension programs for horticultural, crop, forest, livestock, pollinator, rangeland, stored-grain, and urban insects throughout Montana. The Schutter Diagnostic Laboratory provides insect identification services.

MSU Extension Horticulture/Yard and Garden 

MSU Extension’s horticulture programs, publications and links provide expert yard, garden and urban integrated pest management resources for individuals and business throughout Montana.

MSU Extension Master Gardener Program 

The Master Gardener Program was first started by the Washington State Cooperative Extension Service in 1972.  It grew out of a need to meet an enormous increase in requests from home gardeners for horticultural information.  Master Gardeners have become a vital part of Extension’s ability to provide consumers with up-to-date reliable information.  Master Gardening has also given its participants a sense of community spirit, accomplishment and intellectual stimulation.

MSU Extension Plant Pathology

The Extension Plant Pathology program at Montana State University focuses on diseases of economic importance in Montana as well as issues faced in the home landscape. We provide plant pest identification through the Schutter Diagnostic Lab.

MSU Extension Water Quality Program

The Montana State University Extension Water Quality (MSUEWQ) program works to address the broad spectrum of water quality education and information needs of a diverse audience throughout Montana and its neighboring states through research, extension education, and outreach. MSUEWQ is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Northern Plains & Mountains Regional Water Program. The goal of this program is to protect or improve the quality of water resources throughout the United States and its territories, particularly in agriculturally managed watersheds. The Northern Plains & Mountains program seeks to address this goal at national, regional, state, and local levels.

Natural Resources Extension Program

The Extension Livestock Environment program’s goal is to provide education, technical assistance, and applied research answers to all stakeholders in Montana’s livestock industry. This program provides ongoing outreach on animal waste and nutrient management, regulatory compliance, non-point source pollution, air emissions, and recommended environmental best management practices.

Extension Forestry

MSU Extension Forestry is a branch of the MSU Extension Service and is housed cooperatively with The University of Montana - College of Forestry and Conservation in Missoula, Montana. The mission of Extension Forestry is to provide education and outreach to Non-industrial Private Forest Landowners around Montana. It is estimated that more than 50,000 landowners own 4 million acres of forestland in the state.

Range Extension Program

The Extension Range Management program addresses range management issues facing Montana landowners. The goal of the program is to provide scientific, objective, and research based information that promotes an understanding of range management.

Sheep Extension Program

The Montana Sheep Extension program is a demand driven program which strives to address specific needs of Montana sheep producers. The goal of the sheep extension program is to provide programs, knowledge, and assistance to sheep ranchers throughout Montana and the Rocky Mountain region.

Soil Fertility Extension Program

The Soil Fertility/Nutrient Management program at MSU focuses on the processes that affect nutrient cycling so that they can be managed more sustainably. Soil testing can detect low nutrient levels that lead to possible crop nutrient deficiencies. In addition, soil testing allows for timely adjustments in fertilizer applications, reducing input costs. Understanding the economics of fertilizing, yield goals, and crop quality, along with soil fertility management can assist the producer in meeting profit goals.

Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS)

The Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS) interdisciplinary degree program promotes sustainable production, distribution and consumption of food and bioenergy by growing a new generation of leaders through collaborative learning and hands-on experience. SFBS students will explore various aspects of food and bioenergy systems as well as career opportunities in these areas.

Swine Extension Program

The Montana swine extension program is flexible and demand driven and attempts to respond to specific needs within local areas. The swine industry is currently undergoing dramatic changes in production technologies, business structures, product quality, marketing strategies, and awareness of environmental and other societal concerns. A goal of the swine extension program is to provide programs, knowledge, and assistance to help producers understand and adapt to these changes and issues. A second goal is to develop the concept that a progressive attitude coupled with niche marketing will help smaller producers retain a successful and important role in the swine industry. A third goal is to provide youth and the public, an understanding of modern swine production as well as with knowledge of the characteristics of high quality pork products.

Wildlife Extension Program

The goal of the Extension Wildlife Program is to provide scientific, research based, and pertinent information to promote understanding of all aspects of wildlife management. A second goal is to provide programs and information that will help sustain Montana ranches and farms while increasing the public appreciation for the contribution of agriculture to wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Yellowstone Science

The Weed and Invasive plant ecology and management group and thermal biology institute of LRES have teamed up to create Yellowstone Science website which houses environmental science lesson plans for 4th-12th grade teachers and their students. The aim of the site is to provide science teachers around the state with interesting and unique environmental lessons plans that focus on plant ecology, geo-microbiology, snow science and civil engineering, thermal microbiology, historical geography, and hydrology.