Rock monument to pesticide spraying

Location: East Lansing, MI, USA


The plaque on the rock commemorates the first spraying of pesticides on orchards in Michigan in 1889, under the direction of Professor Levi Rawson Taft. Taft was professor of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening at the then Michigan Agricultural College (1888–1902), and state inspector of nurseries and orchards (1902 onward). MSU has always been a major agricultural college, and many innovations were first introduced to agriculture here. A contemporary of Beal, Taft was a pioneer in grafting trees, especially apples. Although DDT was first synthesized in 1874, its insecticide properties were not discovered until 1939. In the 1880s, it is possible the spray used was lead arsenate, to kill Codling Moth. Lead arsenate was largely replaced by other pesticides in the 1940s, including DDT.

Elm trees once lined much of Grand River Avenue. Testing for DDT in 2011 revealed detectable quantities of residual DDT in soil around the Grand River-Farm Lane intersection.

Re-cross East Circle Drive and walk south along Farm Lane. Enter the Natural Science building via the north-east entry. Wheel chair access is provided at the south-west corner of the building. In the central foyer of the building, you will find a small exhibit about some of the current research of the college that has links with the legacy of Silent Spring. Continuing west along the main corridor you will pass the Bug House, an educational facility operated by the Department of Entomology.

Exit the building via the south-west door, and turn west along the walking path. Stop about half way to Agriculture Hall.

Order: Stop 8

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