A variety of research and educational programs related to agriculture and natural resources will be in the spotlight on several tours to be offered during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, Aug. 10-12 at Rock Springs.
The tours will transport visitors by bus to locations in and around Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, a more than 2,000-acre facility where researchers in the College of Agricultural Sciences carry out field studies looking at technologies and best practices in farming, conservation and natural resources. Those who can’t attend the annual expo still can get a flavor for Penn State agricultural research by viewing online virtual tours that are available anytime.
All in-person Ag Progress Days tours are free but require tickets, which can be obtained at the departure point at the corn crib near the top of Main Street at the show site. The tours, many of which involve some walking or standing, include the following:
– Managing Livestock Pastures with Alternative Forages (1.5 hours). Producers will gain an understanding of paddock fencing/watering system components, the use of alternative forages for pasture production, and evaluating cover crop mixes by looking at root structure and soil health indicators. High stock density grazing will be demonstrated with a small herd of Angus cattle, and experts will show how annual forages can be used to renovate a degraded pasture without tillage. Buses leave at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday; 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday; and 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
– Managing Equine Pastures and Drylots (1.5 hours). This tour features a demonstration using horses with hands-on activities in equine pastures. Learn about the do’s and don’ts of sacrifice areas, the tools needed to help improve equine operations, grass and weed identification, innovative pasture methods, and drylot design for horses on limited acreage. The tour will depart at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday; 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday; and 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
– Multifunctional Stream Buffers and Native Grasses (1 hour). Learn how planting and maintaining trees, shrubs and grasses to create a multifunctional stream buffer can improve water quality, wildlife and pollinator habitat, livestock health, and property value, while providing edible or medicinal plants. Demonstration livestock practices such as fencing and stream crossings will be on display. This tour leaves at 11:30 a.m. daily.
– Forest Management: Woods and Wildlife (1.5 hours). Explore the Penn State Demonstration Forest and gain valuable insights into how woods are managed for timber production, wildlife habitat, water quality, forestry research and education. Forestry and wildlife professionals will be on hand to answer questions. The tour leaves at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.
– Habitat Management for Deer and Other Wildlife (1.5 hours). See how field and forest habitat management practices and food plots used on public or private property as part of a Quality Deer Management System can improve conditions for many wildlife species while producing healthier deer herds that are in balance with their natural habitat. Buses leave at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. daily, with an additional tour at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
– Finishing Crossbred Beef x Dairy Cattle (1 hour). This tour will cover the definition of beef x dairy calves and the current marketplace for those cattle. Producers will see a load of crossbred beef dairy steers being finished at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Evaluation Center near the Ag Progress Days site. Buses leave at 2 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday; and 11 a.m. Thursday.
– Virtual Research Tours. Virtual tours highlighting the farms at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, related College of Agricultural Sciences research projects, and past Ag Progress Days research tours are available online and can be accessed anytime. Viewers can click here to learn more about Penn State’s horticulture, agronomy, plant pathology and entomology farms, the USDA Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit farm at Rock Springs, and Penn State research on hops, organic agriculture, industrial hemp, deer and other topics.
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, located 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 11; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 12. Admission and parking are free.