Ag Progress Days a 150-acre smorgasbord of activities
One of the East's largest agricultural expositions is on tap Aug. 12-14, and those who make the trip to Penn State's Ag Progress Days will have no shortage of things to see and do.
The annual event gives as many as 50,000 visitors -- an estimated 60 percent of whom are directly or indirectly involved in agricultural production -- a glimpse into the science and business of agriculture. But, organizers say, you don't have to be a farmer to enjoy and learn from Ag Progress Days.
"It sounds cliché to say that an event has something for everyone, but we believe that's true with Ag Progress Days," said Barbara Christ, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "After all, we all have to eat, and the chance to learn about the science, technology and methods that lead to our wide variety of abundant food makes this event relevant to everybody."
Christ noted that the college's faculty and staff value the opportunity to share the many advancements in agriculture and related fields with friends, partners, stakeholders and the public.
"As you explore the many exhibits and take part in the tours, workshops and other activities, you'll get a firsthand look at the research, extension and educational programs conducted by your land-grant university," she said.
The Ag Progress Days site encompasses about 150 acres that house nearly 500 commercial and education exhibits, crop displays, field machinery demonstrations, family and youth activities, an equine program, several presentation venues and an agricultural museum. Guided research tours take visitors into the field in the surrounding, 2,200-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center.
The variety of activities -- designed to appeal to farmers, homeowners, gardeners, conservationists, woodlot owners, families, kids and others -- is a hallmark of Ag Progress Days.
--The Trade Show
Ag Progress Days offers farm operators the chance to compare goods and services, see the latest machinery in action, and find out about new methods and technologies that can help them maximize productivity -- all in a single trip.
Commercial exhibitors will display virtually every product category, including field machinery, milking systems, animal genetics, storage structures, seed, feed, tools, trailers, sprayers, mixers, livestock housing, utility vehicles, fertilizers, fencing, financial products, insurance and more.
Field demonstrations give visitors the chance to see machinery from different manufacturers in a setting outside the dealer showroom, performing under real-world conditions. A new demonstration in 2014 will spotlight air seeders, drills and planters.
The 4-H Youth Building will showcase several robotics projects built by 4-H members from across Pennsylvania. Other displays in the building will include live animals, such as rabbits and chicks, and live insect collections. Youth also can look at mushrooms and other fungi through microscopes, with the help of Penn State plant pathology experts.
Several other exhibits aimed at children and their families can be found throughout the Ag Progress Days grounds. At the Kids' Climb, children can don safety equipment and harnesses and climb a tree like a professional arborist; Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will showcase turtles, snakes, birds of prey and amphibians; a corn maze offers a fun way to learn facts about Pennsylvania agriculture; and kids can race around a serpentine track at the Pedal Go Kart Derby.
--The Equine Experience
Horse owners and enthusiasts can enjoy a full schedule of training and breed clinics, demonstrations, informational displays and lectures. Breed exhibitions, ranging from miniature horses to powerful draft horses, will include two breeds new to Ag Progress Days: the Fjord Horse and the Australian Cattle Horse.
Other featured events will include drill-team performances and horseback racing games, and the Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Patrol will demonstrate crowd control using horses. In a special historical demonstration, "Pulling Power from the Past," draft horses will work alongside oxen to illustrate how draft animals provided work necessary for the growth of our nation.
Free, daily tours will allow visitors to see production and management practices being studied by Penn State researchers at the surrounding Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, and one tour will take visitors to Penn State's Deer Research Center near the University Park campus. Tour attendees are transported by bus, but most tours require some walking or standing.
Topics will include high-yield soybean production, woodlot management, wildlife habitat, biofuel feedstocks, high-tunnel vegetable production, breeding and restoration of the American chestnut tree, water quality, and more.
--Farm Safety and Health
Penn State safety experts will use a remote-controlled tractor to demonstrate the hazards of tractor overturns -- the leading cause of farm fatalities -- and how to avoid them. Farm accident rescue simulations involving agricultural equipment, including demonstration of emergency scene stabilization and patient-extrication techniques, also will be held.
At the Rural Health and Safety Tent, visitors can take advantage of a variety of health screenings and information. Free vision screenings and blood pressure readings will be offered daily, and free tetanus shots will be given on Wednesday, Aug. 13, while supplies last.
--Crops, Soils and Conservation Area
Visitors can learn more about the benefits of cover crops, which can help farmers to reduce soil erosion, replenish soil nutrients and provide feedstocks for biofuel production. An interseeder developed by Penn State, which can plant cover crops in fields where established crops already are growing, will be demonstrated.
The J.D. Harrington Crops, Soils and Conservation Building will feature a wide variety of topics -- from crops and animals to forest management -- for visitors of any age. The building will house exhibits staffed by organizations related to soil and crop management, as well as aspects of conservation such as forestry, water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and wildlife. Information on composting, biofuels, watering systems, sustainable agriculture, pollinator-friendly plants and deer-management strategies also will be available.
--The Family Room
The Family Room building will feature a variety of hands-on exhibits and demonstrations on topics such as diabetes and diet, home food preservation, the importance of pollinators and the safe use of pesticides at home, and the basics of health insurance.
During healthy lifestyles food demonstrations conducted by Penn State Extension educators, visitors can watch the preparation of quick and healthy dishes, taste the resulting fare and receive copies of the featured recipes. Children can play educational mini-games and take part in a "MyPlate" scavenger hunt.
A range of presentations will provide information and insights for a variety of attendees, whether they are agricultural producers, home gardeners, natural-gas lease holders, or water-well or pond owners. Among other topics, sessions will cover energy conservation, shale energy development, on-farm renewable energy sources, smart energy-buying practices, insights on animal and poultry handling, managing ponds, Farm Bill dairy provisions, home garden irrigation, preserving beneficial predators in the home garden, and reclaiming rainwater.
--Lawn and Garden Area
Penn State Extension Master Gardeners will be on hand to offer advice and information to manage home gardens, lawns and landscapes, and faculty and extension specialists from Penn State's Department of Entomology will field questions and identify insects brought by visitors. In addition, Penn State horticulture faculty will conduct flower-arranging demonstrations.
Strolling through the pollinator garden will allow attendees to see native, flowering plants that attract -- and help conserve -- threatened pollinators. Experts from the Pennsylvania State Beekeeper's Association and Penn State Extension will staff a demonstration beehive. Displays also will highlight backyard high-tunnel gardening and potato varieties and production.
--Pasto Agricultural Museum
The museum offers hands-on exhibits to connect visitors to their agricultural past. The approximately 1,300 items in the collection span from 4,000 B.C. to the 1940s -- before the widespread use of electricity and gasoline-powered equipment -- when farm and household work was accomplished with the muscle power of people and animals.
Outside the museum during Ag Progress Days, craftsmen will demonstrate the use of historic and reproduction tools to hand-hew timbers, cut mortise and tenon joints, and assemble a garden-shed-sized timber frame structure. The shed will be up for bid in the museum's annual silent auction, which will take place Aug. 12 and 13.
--Location, Dates and Times
Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 12; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 14. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at http://apd.psu.edu. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress, and Facebook users can find the event at http://www.facebook.com/