Ag Progress Days tours to highlight Penn State agricultural research

Woodlot management will be among the topics covered in a variety of research tours offered during Ag Progress Days, Aug. 16-18. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State conducts nearly $100 million worth of research each year at research stations and in labs scattered across the Commonwealth. Penn State's Ag Progress Days exposition, which takes place Aug. 16-18, offers visitors a chance to see a sampling of these scientific studies, which contribute to a safe and plentiful food supply, a healthy environment and a vibrant agricultural sector.

Free, daily bus tours during the event will take attendees into the field at the surrounding, 2,000-acre Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center to learn about projects focusing on topics such as pasture and grazing management, precision ag, woodlot management, wildlife habitat and biofuel feedstocks.

In addition, a tour of Penn State's Deer Research Center near the University Park campus will be available, but visitors must provide their own transportation to the center.

Most tours require some walking or standing, and 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 (1.25 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.

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

This tour will focus on food plots and natural habitat management practices used on public or private property 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.

--Dairy Beef Feedlot (1 hour)

This tour will cover the practice of rearing Holstein calves for beef, emphasizing management and nutrition of calf-fed Holsteins in a feedlot setting. Visitors will observe cattle fed by this system, hear about marketing strategies and techniques for Holstein steer calves, and have a chance to ask questions of nutritionists, Pennsylvania Beef Council representatives and cattle buyers.

--High Tunnels (2 hours)

High tunnels are inexpensive structures used for extending the growing season and improving yields and quality of vegetables, berries and cut flowers. Visitors will tour Penn State's High Tunnel Research and Extension Facility, where strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and other crops are grown to study factors such as what types of plastics work best to manage plant growth, temperatures and pests; types of solar-powered automated venting options to better manage heat load; and nutrient needs of crops grown in high tunnels.

--Pasture Management and Rotational Grazing Demo (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 animals and learn how to maintain healthy grass and legume pastures. The tour will feature a live demonstration of moving animals through a rotational grazing system.

--Precision Ag (1.5 hours)

This tour will demonstrate the use of several precision ag technologies in corn production that can help to improve yields, reduce costs and enhance understanding of crop responses to inputs in the field. This demonstration will feature a field-scale evaluation of different plant populations planted with a variable rate corn planter. Later, the crop can be harvested for silage with a yield monitor to evaluate both yield and forage quality. Experts will discuss the potential of this system and other tools to improve crop-management 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.

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

Proper woodlot management takes time, commitment and planning. This tour will visit a pine stand thinned for wildlife and timber, a riparian buffer restoration effort following the salvaging of hemlocks killed by the woolly adelgid insect, and an area regenerating in response to a timber harvest on 15 acres. Woodlot owners can gain insights into how their decisions and actions can help them attain the values they seek from the forest.

--Penn State Deer Research Center (2 hours)

Visitors can view live deer and learn about deer biology, deer management and current research. The center will open for tours at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and guests must preregister at the tour registration area at the Ag Progress Days site to receive an admittance ticket to the facility. Preregistered guests also will receive biosecurity information and driving directions.

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. 16; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 18. 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

Last Updated July 25, 2016