Agricultural Sciences

Soil health field day and tour set at Larson research farm June 27

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The latest in cover-crop mixtures, integrated weed management, manure-management strategies and beneficial insects will be featured during a field day and research tour to be held by Penn State Extension and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

The event, "Strategies for Soil Health and Nutrient Conservation Research," will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 27 at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear about research conducted by the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"This field day and tour will feature hands-on activities, demonstrations and discussions with researchers and practitioners about innovative strategies for soil health," said Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop production and ecology, who is co-organizing the event with researchers and educators from three Penn State cropping systems research projects.

The event, which will take place on the research center's agronomy research farm, will include five stations:

--Cover-Crop Mixtures for Corn Success will focus on evaluating how this year's corn crop is responding to the nitrogen supplied by different cover-crop mixtures and monocultures.

"Participants will get their hands dirty testing soil, measuring corn plants and reviewing cover-crop performance data collected this past winter and spring," explained Charlie White, sustainable agriculture extension associate.

--Winning over Weeds with Cover Crops will highlight how two research projects are using cover crops in innovative ways to manage weeds.

--Minding Manure to Conserve Nutrients will detail how new equipment is allowing subsurface application of poultry litter and liquid dairy manure in no-till systems.

"We will demonstrate how these techniques can conserve valuable nutrients, and custom manure haulers will answer participants' questions," explained Doug Beegle, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy.

--Creative Cover Cropping will focus on underseeding, interseeding and other cover-crop practices, with insight from local practitioners and Penn State researchers.

--The Power of Predators will provide information about beneficial insects that protect crops from insect pests, slugs and weeds.

"Through hands-on activities, participants will meet some of these fascinating creatures and learn how to assess their activity," explained John Tooker, assistant professor of entomology.

Participants in this field day can earn continuing academic credit in the following areas: Pesticide Applicator Recertification, Certified Crop Advisors in Nutrient Management, Soil and Water Management, Pest Management, Manure Hauler Certification, Certified Nutrient Management, Odor Management Plan Writers, and Conservation Planning Credit: No-Till/Cover Crops.

More information about the projects featured in this field day is available at the following websites:

--Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Dairy Cropping Systems

--Weed and Insect Management in Organic Rotational No-till

--Cover Crop Cocktail Mixtures

Participants must register by June 20. Cost to attend the field day and research tour is $10 (includes lunch). To register, visit the website or call 877-489-1398. For more information, contact Heather Karsten at 814-863-3179 or by email at

The Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs is nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45.

Manure injection will be one of the soil-health strategies featured at the field day and research tour. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated June 11, 2012