Ag Progress Days tours cover a lot of ground

July 25, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Visitors to Penn State's Ag Progress Days who successfully traverse the event's 55 acres of exhibits and more than 80 acres of crop and machinery demonstrations may think they've seen it all.

In fact, they've just scratched the surface.

The exposition's home is the nearly 2,000-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, and a variety of free bus tours -- most of which include a walking component -- will enable attendees to see a sampling of the scientific research conducted by the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Tours during all three days of the event, Aug. 14-16, will showcase research aimed at improving agricultural yields and efficiency, minimizing agriculture's environmental impact, developing new sources of biobased energy, enhancing growers' ability to predict and respond to insect and disease outbreaks, and other issues.

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

--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 how the American Chestnut Foundation's breeding program and volunteers are working to restore the species. Daily at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., with an additional tour at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--The Arboretum at Penn State (2 hours)
Located on the University Park campus, the arboretum contains more than 17,000 individual plants representing some 700 species. Highlights of this tour in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens will include the ridge and valley watershed map, flowering annual and perennial displays, a sundial sculpture and lotus pool. There also will be information on unique plantings that could be included in home landscapes. Daily at 10 a.m., with additional tours Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--General Research (40 minutes)
Get an overview of research conducted at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and by the USDA Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Lab. Daily at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., with additional tours at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

--Habitat Management for Deer and Other Wildlife (1 hour)
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 while producing healthier and larger deer. The tour will look at recently installed habitat demonstration plots in the woodlot and neighboring fields and will cover how to integrate habitat improvements to meet your individual objectives. Daily at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with an additional tour at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Harvesting Your Woods: The Tough Decisions (1 hour)
This tour focuses on a timber sale to salvage hemlock dying from an infestation of wooly adelgid, an exotic invasive insect that attacks hemlock. Experts will explain why some trees were left and others selected for harvest. Trees' value as seed sources, wildlife habitat and aesthetics will be highlighted. A discussion of harvesting options will demonstrate how to achieve appropriate future forest conditions, the highest long-term economic return and improved wildlife habitat.  Daily at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m., with a late tour on Wednesday at 4 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--High Tunnels (75 minutes)
The High Tunnel Research and Education Facility at Rock Springs demonstrates the most current production systems and horticultural crops that can be produced in high tunnels. Daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Management Tactics for Sustained High-Yielding Soybeans and Corn (1 hour)
This tour will review some of the tactics necessary to create and sustain high corn and soybean yields on Pennsylvania soils. Experts will highlight sustainable practices for U.S. soybean production that will help growers meet growing local and worldwide demand. The tour will cover current no-till, cover-crop, and pest- and soil-management issues for corn and soybean. Daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Short Rotation Woody Crops for Biomass (1 hour)
What are short rotation woody crops? How do they contribute to biomass feedstocks? Why are they being promoted for marginal planting sites? What type of species should you grow and who will buy it? This tour will answer those questions with a visit to a demonstration plot with fast-growing willow and poplar trees. Learn how to grow, harvest and produce this crop as an alternative income opportunity that helps provide sustainable energy supplies. Daily at 12:30 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Stream (Riparian) Buffers and Native Prairie Grasses (1 hour)
This tour will demonstrate how a riparian buffer can enhance your property and improve water quality in your community. Learn about the benefits of forested and grassed stream buffers, as well as how to install and maintain them. Also, see a prairie grass demonstration and learn how to establish and maintain native grasses with wildflowers for wildlife habitat, biofuels and more.  Daily at 11:30 a.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Sustainable and Organic Cropping Systems (90 minutes)
This tour will focus on incorporating no-till techniques into organic corn and soybean production and on how to manage manure in no-till crop production to improve nutrient use/efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Daily at 1 p.m. NOTE: walking/standing involved.

--Animal Composting (90 minutes)
This presentation will provide an instructional discussion for producers interested in on-farm composting of any animal species. Experts will cover the technical aspects of carcass composting and regulatory considerations to help producers get started or improve upon their existing composting skills. A working carcass compost pile will be available on site for participants to see the process and construction first-hand. Meets in the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building theater at 2 p.m. (presentation followed by bus tour to compost site). NOTE: walking/standing involved.

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, 9 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 Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress.

  • This corn crib is the departure point for a variety of free tours to be offered during Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 14-16.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated July 31, 2012