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Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent at Ag Progress Days
7/23/2011 7:00:00 AM
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA -- Folks with questions about managing their crops or forest can get answers at the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 16-18.

Visitors to the crops and soils area also can take the "Weed ID" quiz and bring weeds with them for the experts to identify.

"You can get advice on crop-management issues, such as crop and variety selection, when to crop scout, and how much manure or fertilizer you should apply, to name just a few," said Sjoerd Duiker, associate professor of soil management.

Cover crops are being investigated and promoted vigorously by Penn State Extension. Cover crops are a crucial component in maintaining soil, water and air quality in high-yield agriculture, noted Duiker. Planting mixtures of cover crops to serve several objectives is a new development, and visitors can see several cover-crop mixtures planted next to the corn maze at the Crops and Soils Tent.

Penn State Extension educators will join farmer board members of the Pennsylvania No-till Alliance to answer questions about no-till farming, establishing and managing cover crops, adjusting and outfitting planters and drills, and how no-till farmers can be more successful.

There is also great interest in sustainable and organic agriculture as Pennsylvania producers continue to move toward greater sustainability on their farms, according to Duiker. "Come visit with the experts at Penn State, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Pennsylvania Certified Organic about what you are doing or would like to do in your farming operation," he said.

Other attractions at the Crops, Soils and Conservation Tent include:

--Growing forages and the Hay Show: Growing quality forages is key to raising productive and healthy cattle, sheep, goats, horses and other livestock on your farm, noted Duiker. "Penn State and Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council experts will be on hand to answer your alfalfa, timothy, orchardgrass, pasture and other forage questions," he said. "Think you have quality hay? Bring it along and enter it in the 2011 Hay Show, and maybe take home a ribbon."

--Websoilsurvey: The Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Survey Division will demonstrate how to use the nation's online source of soils information. Learn how to generate a soil map of your farm or parcel of land and how to access this wealth of information.

--Stream Restoration: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will have an exhibit with information about stream-restoration projects that will also include live fish, snakes and turtles on display during all three days of the show.

--Conservation: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will promote the conservation of wetlands and restoration and protection of stream channels in agricultural settings. The corps also will offer information about its recreational facilities, such as Raystown Lake.

--Stream Buffers and Native Prairie Grasses: Pennsylvania Conservation Districts will offer a presentation titled "What is a Riparian Buffer?" that will show how buffers enhance property and improve water quality. The one-hour tour, which will be offered daily at 11:30 a.m., will highlight the benefits of forested and grassed stream buffers as well as how to install and maintain them.

"Again this year, we will see a prairie grass demonstration and learn how to establish and maintain native grasses with wildflowers for wildlife habitat, biofuels and more," said Duiker. "We will have demonstration plots of native grasses, native wildflowers, grazing forages and plants bearing food for wildlife."

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 Tuesday, Aug. 16; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18. Admission and parking are free.


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