New building, familiar topics at Ag Progress Days crops and soils area

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Ag Progress Days visitors looking for the Crops and Soils Tent this year will not be able to find it -- instead, they will find a Crops, Soils and Conservation Building.

The new Joseph D. Harrington Building, named for the late Joseph D. Harrington, professor emeritus of agronomy and former Ag Progress Days manager, will serve as home to several exhibits and activities highlighting conservation and crops management. The structure will be dedicated at 2 p.m. on Aug. 14.

Molly McDonough, public affairs specialist for the Pennsylvania office of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and one of the building coordinators, said that the Crops, Soils, and Conservation Building includes a wide variety of topics -- from crops and animals to forest management -- for visitors of any age.

"Conservation is important in enhancing the environment for all of us, for now and for future generations," she said. "Conservation has many benefits, from improving water and air quality to helping farmers produce more food."

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.

Sjoerd Duiker, associate professor of soil management and applied soil physics, said there will be several attractions in the area, including the "no-till corral" showcasing equipment used in no-till agriculture, a butterfly garden, live animals, plots of warm-season grasses, and demonstrations of cover crops and forages.

"We're starting to consider cover crops more for their potential use in forage production," he said.

An interseeder developed by Penn State will demonstrate one method used to plant cover crops. Duiker explained that an interseeder can plant cover crops in fields where established crops already are growing. A planter with a roller-crimper built into it, manufactured by innovator Charles Martin, also will be featured.

"This is an innovation in agricultural machinery," Duiker said. "Both pieces of equipment help integrate cover cropping into our cropping systems. It is good for soil quality and soil conservation."

Information on composting, biofuels, watering systems, plants that attract pollinators and deer-management strategies also will be available.

The corn maze also will return to the Crops, Soils, and Conservation area.

Hay producers can bring hay samples to be evaluated during the Hay Show. These samples must have been grown in Pennsylvania in 2012 by the exhibitor. Entries officially close at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14, but exhibitors are encouraged to bring their samples in on Aug. 13 before the show begins.

More information can be found online at http://agsci.psu.edu/apd/pdfs/hay-show-brochure/view.

McDonough said that crop and conservation topics also will be featured in other areas of the Ag Progress Days site. Tours focused on managing deer and other wildlife as part of a Quality Deer Management system will leave daily at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with an additional tour at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

A tour on water quality and Riparian buffers will leave daily at 11:30 a.m. All tours will leave from the corn crib at the top of Main Street.

Duiker said more hay topics can be found at the Pasto Agricultural Museum, where a hay press operated by oxen will be demonstrated. Duiker also is showing how to mow grass with scythes and how to make hay bales with a manual hay baler.

"We take this technology to Kenya for street children who are now using it to make hay bales," Duiker said. "This gives them the opportunity to make a local income."

He added that while the machinery may not be used in the United States, the demonstration still makes a link to the present.

"Some of that technology can be relevant in other parts of the world," he continued. "That's why it's still very valuable to the show. It's an everyday demonstration."

The Crops, Soils, and Conservation Building is located at Harrington Lane and the end of East 5th Street.

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. 14; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 16. 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.

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Last Updated July 25, 2012