It's natural: Conservation, agronomy work together at Ag Progress Days

July 30, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Since they share a focus on programs related to crops, soils and natural resources, it only makes sense that Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) again join forces under the same tent at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, set for Aug. 18-20.

The NRCS and Penn State's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences will co-sponsor the exposition's crops, soils and conservation area, which brings together specialists and exhibits from USDA's Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies.

Displays, demonstrations and tours will reveal how federal, state and local agencies work with private organizations to ensure the future of the state's natural resources. The partnership works, said Bill Curran, professor of weed science, because the many groups meet a common public need.

"People can meet, ask questions of, and talk to the Penn State departments, state and federal agencies, and public and private organizations that are working to support production agriculture in Pennsylvania while protecting our environment," Curran said. "We again will have many of the best features from previous years, special plant and equipment exhibits, and commodity groups and related associations in the tent, along with the hay competition."

In addition to Penn State's agronomic activities, state and or federal agencies such as USDA-NRCS, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, conservation districts, the state Fish and Boat Commission, and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Forestry will share space with allied organizations. Participating groups will include the Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council, the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association and the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance.

Penn State's sustainable agriculture program, the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), and Pennsylvania Certified Organic also will be on hand to answer questions and talk about various programs and activities.

Among the special exhibits will be a plot of Pennsylvania wildflowers, demonstrating ways that the flowers can be useful in conservation planning. The tent also will host special presentations throughout Ag Progress Days, including:

-- A Web soils survey demonstration by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will present easy-to-use online access soil maps and other land-use information on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1 p.m.

-- "Wildlife Food Plots for Farmers and Hunters," a step-by-step instructional session, will be offered by the Quality Deer Management Association on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m.

-- In "Managing Hunters to Manage Deer," the Quality Deer Management Association will show hunters how they can participate in the larger game-management process on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m.

-- "Solar Energy for Grazing Systems" will examine the recent technological developments in supplying solar power for pumping water and electrifying fences, on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

-- "Nutrient Management Balance Sheet Assistance" will provide individual and small-group assistance for visitors working on nutrient balance spreadsheets and nutrient management plans on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

-- "Dairy Farming in Economic Hard Times and Hanging On" will feature two grass-based dairy operators explaining how grazing works for them on Thursday at 11 a.m.

No-till equipment also will be on display in partnership with the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance, whose members will be available to answer questions. Penn State Cooperative Extension specialists will be on hand to talk to agricultural producers about any special problems at the ever-popular "Ask the Specialists" booth.

At the common weeds exhibit and weed-identification display, visitors can get fact sheets and see examples of common weeds from around the state, with specialists on hand to help formulate weed-management strategies. Teens also can get information on Penn State's academic degree opportunities in crop and soil sciences.

The ever-popular "A-Maze-N Corn" corn maze returns, as participants navigate the puzzling network by answering general questions about Pennsylvania agriculture. The region's finest hay also will be selected at the annual Ag Progress Days Pennsylvania Hay Show. Visitors can submit entries to compete for prizes in 25 classes, with winning entries going to the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January.

Penn State's 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. 18; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 19; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days Web site at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 30, 2009