Questions on crops, weeds, conservation answered at Ag Progress Days

University Park, Pa. -- Folks with questions about managing their crops or weeds can get answers at the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, which will take place from Aug. 17 to 19. Visitors to the crops and soils area can also take the "Weed ID" quiz and/or bring weeds with them for the experts to identify.

"You can find the answers to those nagging crop-management questions including crop and variety selection, when to crop scout and how much manure or fertilizer you should apply, to name just a few," said Bill Curran, professor of weed science.

Curran noted that no-till agriculture continues to gain converts in Pennsylvania, and people can learn more about the concept at the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent. "Farming without tillage saves the soil, improves soil quality and reduces energy inputs," he said.

"Penn State extension and the Pennsylvania No-till Alliance will be on hand to answer your questions about no-till, establishing and managing cover crops, adjusting and outfitting your planter or drill, and helping you be a more successful no-till farmer."

The Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance will be launching a farmer- to-farmer initiative at Ag Progress Days. Look for the group's newly designed exhibit adjacent to the conservation tent. Alliance board members, experienced in no-till production, will be staffing the display and providing personal assistance to producers.

"A horse-drawn planter and interactive troubleshooting station will be in the Alliance area as well," Curran said."Finally, daily drawings will award a trip to the national no-till conference, discounts and other assorted giveaways."

There is also great interest in sustainable and organic agriculture as Pennsylvania producers continue to move toward greater sustainability on their farms, according to Curran. "Come visit with the experts at Penn State, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Pennsylvania Certified Organic about what you are doing or would like to do in your farming operation," he said.

"We are here to help you transition to organic, get a farmer-grower grant through the USDA's competitive Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and help you improve your sustainable farming practices for the long run."

Other attractions at the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent include:

--Growing forages and the Hay Show: Growing quality forages is key to raising productive and healthy cattle, sheep, goats, horses and other livestock on your farm, noted Curran. "Penn State and Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council experts will be on hand to answer your alfalfa, timothy, orchardgrass, pasture and other forage questions," he said. "Think you have quality hay? Bring it along and enter it in the 2010 Hay Show, and maybe take home a ribbon."

--Websoilsurvey: The Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Survey Division will demonstrate how to use the nation's online source of soils information. Learn how to generate a soil map of your farm or parcel of land and how to access this wealth of information.

--Stream Restoration: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will have an exhibit with information about stream-restoration projects that will also include live fish, snakes and turtles on display during all three days of the show.

--Conservation: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be promoting the conservation of wetlands and restoration and protection of stream channels in agricultural settings. The corps will also offer information about its recreational facilities, such as Raystown Lake.

--Stream Buffers and Native Prairie Grasses: Pennsylvania Conservation Districts will offer a presentation titled "What is a Riparian Buffer?" that will show how buffers enhance property and improve water quality. The program will highlight the benefits of forested and grassed stream buffers as well as how to install and maintain them.

"New this year, see a prairie grass demonstration and learn how to establish and maintain native grasses with wildflowers for wildlife habitat, biofuels and more," said Curran. "We will have demonstration plots of native grasses, native wildflowers, grazing forages and wildlife food plots."

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. 17; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 18; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 19. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at http://apd.psu.edu.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010