Research tours stretch the boundaries of Ag Progress Days attractions

July 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Ag Progress Days exposition, which takes place Aug. 18-20, offers more than 135 acres of land devoted to commercial and educational exhibits and field demonstrations. But there's a lot more to see at the surrounding, 2,000-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center.

Free, daily bus tours during the event will give visitors an opportunity to get a glimpse of research projects focusing on topics such as crop production, woodlot management, wildlife habitat, biofuel feedstocks and water quality. One tour will take visitors to Penn State's Deer Research Center near the University Park campus. Most tours require some walking or standing.

All tours require free tickets that can be obtained at the boarding area, which is located at the corn crib on Main Street, near the headquarters building at the Ag Progress Days site.

The tours feature the following topics:

--American Chestnut Foundation Plantings (1.5 hours)

Visit American chestnut breeding orchards and learn about the history and demise of the American chestnut tree. You'll find out about The American Chestnut Foundation's breeding program aimed at restoring the species and see how to plant and maintain chestnut trees.

--Penn State Deer Research Center (2 hours)

Visitors can view live deer and learn about deer biology, deer 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. Note: Due to possible transmission of diseases to animals, certain restrictions apply.

--Habitat Management for Deer and Other Wildlife (1.5 hours)

This tour will focus on food plots and habitat management practices as part of a Quality Deer Management System to improve habitat for many wildlife species while producing healthier and larger deer. Visit habitat demonstration plots in the woodlot and neighboring fields.

--Agronomy Farm (1.5 hours)

This tour will highlight trials of soybean varieties, including Plenish high oleic soybeans, which produce oils that contain no transfat, 20 percent less saturated fat than other soybean oils, and an oleic content similar to olive oil. Visitors will learn how mushroom compost can be used as a sustainable soil amendment for forage crops and hear about integrated weed management techniques for agronomic crops.

--Equine Best Management Practices and Livestock High Density Grazing (1.5 hours)

This tour will cover pasture management issues for equine and cattle and highlight conservation practices that can support livestock while protecting natural resources. See how to set up paddocks or an exercise area for your animals and learn how to maintain healthy grass and legume pastures. A live demonstration of moving animals through a rotational grazing system will be presented.

--Pasture Management and Feeding Technologies (1.5 hours)

Examine current Penn State grazing research, and learn how current research findings can help improve your operation's productivity, with an emphasis on beef cattle management and better utilization of forage to improve animal performance. In addition, visitors will see how electronic identification tag readers can improve on-farm record keeping and decision making.

--Short Rotation Woody Crops for Biomass (1 hour)

What are short rotation woody crops? How do they contribute to biomass feedstock? Why are they being promoted for marginal planting sites? What type of species should you grow and who will buy it? Find the answers by visiting 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.

--Stream (Riparian) Buffers and Native Prairie Grasses (1 hour)

Learn how a riparian buffer can enhance your property and improve water quality in your community. This tour will cover the benefits of forested and grassed stream buffers, as well as how to install and maintain them. You'll see a prairie grass demonstration and learn how to establish and maintain native grasses with wildflowers for wildlife habitat, biofuels and more.

--Woodlot Management: Decisions and Actions (1.5 hours)

Visit a 2012 timber harvest, examine the regeneration response and discuss wildlife species that benefit from young forest habitat. See a riparian buffer restoration effort examining possible replacement species for hemlock lost to wooly adelgid. Visitors also will stop at a charcoal hearth from the late 1800s, when charcoal was used to "smelt" iron, and hear comparisons between timber harvesting then and now.

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. 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 website. Twitter users can share information about the event using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event at

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Last Updated July 16, 2015