Ag Progress Days tours highlight wide range of programs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- From beef to biomass energy, from habitat management to high-tunnel vegetable production, a variety of tours at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 13-15, will highlight a cross section of the research and extension programs conducted by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and its partners.

The exposition's home is the nearly 2,000-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. Free bus tours -- most of which will require some walking or standing -- will enable attendees to see a sampling of the studies carried out at the center and at other college facilities near the University Park campus.

All tours leave from the corn crib near the top of Main Street at the Ag Progress Days site:

-- Penn State Beef and Sheep Center (two hours)
This tour will take visitors to Penn State's on-campus beef and sheep facilities, where faculty and staff from the Department of Animal Science will answer questions and offer a variety of presentations on animal care and production. The bus leaves at 10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Due to possible transmission of diseases to animals, certain restrictions apply.

-- Short Rotation Woody Crops for Biomass (one hour)
Participants will find out what short-rotation woody crops are, how they contribute to biomass feedstock and why they are suitable for marginal planting sites. This tour will take visitors to a demonstration plot with fast-growing willow and poplar trees, where they'll learn how to grow, harvest and produce this crop as an alternative income opportunity that can help provide sustainable energy supplies. Bus leaves daily at noon.

-- High Tunnel Research and Education Facility (75 minutes)
The High Tunnel Research and Education Facility demonstrates the most current production systems for horticultural crops, such as fruits and vegetables, that can be produced in high tunnels. Bus leaves daily at 1:30 p.m.

-- Innovations in Cropping Systems (90 minutes)
Learn how to incorporate cover crops and reduce pesticide use in corn and soybean production. Attendees will visit research plots aimed at incorporating cover crop monocultures and diverse mixtures into conventional and reduced tillage organic field crop rotations. Practices for managing insects, weeds and soil fertility will be discussed. Bus leaves daily at 12:30 p.m.

-- American Chestnut Foundation Plantings (75 minutes)
See American chestnut breeding orchards. Learn about the history and demise of the American chestnut tree, how to plant and maintain chestnut trees and the American Chestnut Foundation's breeding program that includes volunteers working to restore the species. Bus leaves daily at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., with an additional tour at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

-- Penn State Deer Research Center (two hours)
Visitors can view live deer and various antler displays. Discussions will focus on deer biology and management and current research. In the event of inclement weather, animals will be viewed from the bus and a slide show will be presented in the display room. Bus leaves daily at 11 a.m., with additional tours Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Wednesday at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Due to possible transmission of diseases to animals, certain restrictions apply.

-- Habitat Management for Deer and Other Wildlife (90 minutes)
This tour will focus on food plots and natural habitat management practices used on public or private property as part of a Quality Deer Management System to improve habitat for many wildlife species. Visit recently installed habitat demonstration plots in the woodlot and neighboring fields. Bus leaves daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with an additional tour at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

-- Management Tactics for Sustained High Yielding Soybeans (one hour)
Experts will review tactics needed to create and sustain high soybean yields on Pennsylvania soils and meet the growing local and worldwide demand for soybeans. This tour will showcase how using no-till, cover crops, gypsum, high-yielding varieties, and pest and soil management best practices can lead to improved soybean yields. Bus leaves daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

-- Pasture Management and High Density Grazing Demonstrations (90 minutes)
This tour will highlight conservation practices that can be used to support livestock. Experts will explain how to establish paddocks or an exercise area to house horses or cattle as part of a pasture-based operation. Visitors will see a hands-on demonstration of methods for moving animals through a rotational grazing system and observe ways to harvest and maintain healthy grass and legume pastures. Bus leaves daily at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

-- Stream (Riparian) Buffers and Native Prairie Grasses (one hour)
Riparian buffers can enhance properties and improve water quality in communities. Visitors will learn about the benefits of forested and grassed stream buffers as well as how to install and maintain them. This tour also will feature a prairie grass demonstration and show participants how to establish and maintain native grasses with wildflowers for wildlife habitat and biofuels. Bus leaves daily at 11:30 a.m.

-- Pennsylvania's Changing Woodlands (90 minutes)
Managing change in a woodlot can be challenging and rewarding. This tour will explore early successional habitat for wildlife, evaluate tree seedling regeneration, show the impact of emerald ash borer, and examine approaches for controlling unwanted exotic and invasive plants. Forestry and wildlife professionals will be on hand to answer questions. Bus leaves daily at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., with additional tours Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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. Aug. 13; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. 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/AgProgressDays.

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Last Updated July 19, 2013