Ag Progress Days spotlights spotted lanternflies, plant diseases, robots in ag

Chuck Gill
July 19, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Spotted lanternflies, invasive plant diseases, robots in agriculture and education, and foreign animal diseases will be among the topics highlighted in displays and presentations at the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building and Theatre during Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 13-15.

Native to Asia and found for the first time in the United States in Berks County in 2014, the invasive spotted lanternfly has spread to 14 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania — a region that the state Department of Agriculture has designated as a quarantine zone. The pest also has been found in neighboring states.

The planthopper feeds on sap, weakening plants and leaving behind a sugary excrement called honeydew, which promotes the growth of sooty mold, while attracting other insects and creating a sticky mess that can render outdoor areas unusable. The pest threatens Pennsylvania's grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth about $18 billion to Pennsylvania's economy.

Ag Progress Days visitors can speak with Penn State spotted lanternfly experts, learn how to identify the various life stages of the insect, and find out how they can help contain and manage lanternfly infestations.

Residents from any of the counties under quarantine going to Ag Progress Days or to any other locations inside or outside the quarantine area should inspect their vehicles before traveling to be sure they aren't transporting spotted lanternflies, which are known to be good hitchhikers. More information about spotted lanternfly, the state quarantine and how to report a sighting is available on the Penn State Extension website.

Other topics featured in the College Exhibits Building, on Main Street at the Ag Progress Days site, will include the following:

— Invasive Plant Diseases: What to watch for in Pennsylvania forests and home gardens. This display will provide information about invasive plant diseases that may threaten Pennsylvania home gardens and forests. Visitors will learn how the pathogens spread and cause disease and what actions to take if they suspect they have encountered these pathogens.

— Veterinary Science: An Inside Look. Get an inside look at the latest in veterinary science research. Penn State's Veterinary Extension Team also will address foreign animal diseases during presentations in the College Exhibits Building Theatre.

— Robotics. An exhibit titled "Advancing Agricultural Sensing and Automation" will show advances in engineering for automation, mechanization and sensing to improve specialty crop production. Visitors will see displays and video on automated crop-load management in apples, robotic mushroom harvesting, precision irrigation and related topics.

Also, the Centre County 4-H Robotics Club throughout the day on Wednesday will demonstrate several student-built robots from the last competition season. Middle school students will present a hands-on demo of their "Rover Ruckus" robot, and participating high school students will offer two live demonstrations of their 120-pound "Deep Space" robot outside the College Exhibits Building. Visitors can learn more about hands-on 4-H STEM programs for fourth through 12th graders and find out how to get involved as a participant, mentor or financial sponsor.

— Where can your education take you? Did you know there are more job openings in agriculture and related fields each year than qualified graduates to fill them? Prospective students and their families can visit with representatives from the Office for Undergraduate Education to learn about College of Agricultural Sciences programs in animal, biomedical, environmental, plant and social sciences. Faculty and staff will answer questions and provide information.

Following is the tentative schedule of presentations in the College Exhibits Building Theatre:

Tuesday, Aug. 13

10:30 a.m. — Town Hall Meeting on Priority Issues in Agriculture, with Pa. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Rick Roush.

Noon — Defending Yourself Against Ticks and Vector-borne Disease

12:30 p.m. — Battling the Spotted Lanternfly

1 p.m. — Identifying Common Invasive Forest Plants

1:30 p.m. — Invasion of the Round Goby: Implications for Pa. Bivalves

2 p.m. — Foreign Animal Diseases (FADs): A Real Risk…Not Just Initials

2:30 p.m. — Advanced Agriculture Sensing and Automation

3 p.m. — Response to Emerald Ash Borer: Genetics, Site Quality and Proximity to Infected Trees

Wednesday, Aug. 14

10 a.m. — Pennsylvania House and Senate Ag and Rural Affairs Committees Joint Informational Meeting

2 p.m. — Roundtable with U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson: A Public Discussion of the Farm Bill and Agricultural Policy

Thursday, Aug. 15

9:30 a.m. — Foreign Animal Diseases (FADs): A Real Risk…Not Just Initials

10 a.m. — Watch-out Situations for Non-native Forest Plant Invasions

1 p.m. — Battling the Spotted Lanternfly

1:30 p.m. — Master Gardeners: Pollinator Gardens

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. Aug. 13
  • 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14
  • 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 #agprogressdays, and the event also can be found on Facebook (@AgProgressDays).

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Last Updated July 19, 2019