UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Everything agriculture and more can be found at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, which kicks off Aug. 14 and continues through Aug. 16 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs in Ferguson Township, Centre County.
The event, one of the largest agricultural expos in the East, features 500 commercial and educational exhibits, crop displays, machinery demonstrations, guided research tours, family and youth activities, horse exhibitions, workshops, and the Pasto Agricultural Museum.
There also are many food vendors — primarily local community groups and state commodity organizations — offering hot sandwiches, lemonade, ice cream and other Pennsylvania fare.
The event typically attracts as many as 45,000 visitors from across Pennsylvania and beyond — an estimated 60 percent of whom are directly or indirectly involved in agricultural production — to get a glimpse into the science and business of agriculture.
Jesse Darlington, Ag Progress Days manager, believes everyone can benefit from attending the show, even if they are not directly connected to agriculture or related industries.
"Ag Progress Days has something for everyone, from educational activities for adults, children and families to commercial vendors, machinery demonstrations, and crop exhibits to provide agricultural producers with valuable knowledge to improve their operations," he said. "We encourage all to attend and learn about agriculture and the research being done at Penn State."
To make the most of Ag Progress Days, it is helpful to know some of the major demonstrations and activities that are available, including:
College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building
The looming threat posed by the invasive spotted lanternfly will take center stage in the College of Agricultural Sciences Exhibits Building and Theatre. The pest threatens Pennsylvania's grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth about $18 billion to Pennsylvania's economy.
Visitors can learn how to identify the various life stages of spotted lanternfly 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 outside the quarantine area should inspect their vehicles before traveling to be sure they aren't transporting spotted lanternflies, which are known to be adept hitchhikers.
Displays and presentations in the building also will highlight programs related to pond management and bait-fish production, hemp research, animal health, and agricultural policy.
The Trade Show
Ag Progress Days offers farm operators "one-stop shopping" to compare goods and services, see the latest machinery in action, and find out about new methods and technologies that can help them maximize productivity. Commercial exhibitors will display virtually every product category, including field machinery, milking systems, animal genetics, storage structures, seed, feed, tools, trailers, sprayers, mixers, livestock housing, financial products and more.
Field demonstrations will give visitors a firsthand look at how the latest models perform under real-world conditions. New demonstrations this year include corn chopping, no-till drills, and one that will show farmers how to diversify their operations with vegetable crops.
The 4-H Youth Building will house several interactive exhibits and activities, focusing on expressive arts. Children can learn about 4-H programming in science, engineering, technology, citizenship, leadership and healthy living. Outside the building, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will feature Pennsylvania wildlife, and visitors can walk through a live butterfly tent.
At the Kids' Climb, children can don safety equipment and harnesses and climb a tree like a professional arborist; a corn maze offers a fun way to learn facts about Pennsylvania agriculture; and hands-on exhibits at the Pasto Agricultural Museum will give visitors a glimpse into farm and rural life of days gone by.
The Equine Experience
Horse owners and enthusiasts can enjoy a full schedule of training and breed clinics, demonstrations, informational displays and lectures. Penn State Equine Science faculty and staff will be on hand to provide information on horse breeds, care, training and more.
New this year, horse owners can join Penn State Extension equine specialists daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to learn about fecal egg counts. Visitors can bring a sample of their horse's manure to be tested at no charge. Samples must be fresh (less than 12 hours old) and kept cold (refrigerate at home; bring in a cooler to test).