UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Agriculture is big business in Pennsylvania, and Penn State’s Ag Progress Days is the best place to see just how big.
With about $5.7 billion in annual cash receipts and an economic impact of nearly $57 billion, agriculture and related enterprises combine to form one of the Keystone State’s largest industries.
Much of the equipment, technology, goods and services that drive the state’s agricultural economy will be on display during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days exposition, Aug. 13-15 at Rock Springs.
The event will feature nearly 500 exhibitors and a variety of field demonstrations, according to Bob Oberheim, Ag Progress Days manager.
“About two-thirds of Ag Progress Days visitors are connected in some way with production agriculture,” Oberheim said. “We try to offer these visitors an opportunity to see firsthand the products and practices that can help them to do their job more efficiently and to remain profitable in a very tough, competitive business.” 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, utility vehicles, fertilizers, fencing, financial products, insurance and more.
Oberheim noted that a popular feature of Ag Progress Days among farm operators is the field machinery demonstrations, weather-permitting.
A new demonstration in 2013 will showcase hay mergers and choppers.
Also in action during all three days of the event will be hay mowers, hay rakes and tedders, hay balers, and bale handlers.
Field demos also will feature a cover-crop interseeder developed by Penn State agricultural scientists.
Farmers using this technology may eventually need only a single trip across the field to accomplish what takes most farmers three passes and several pieces of equipment to do. The equipment can seed the cover crop, add fertilizer and spray an herbicide to kill emerged weeds.
Oberheim explained that farmers are increasingly interested in growing cover crops, but the time, cost and late-fall harvest of corn and other crops often limit their use. The seeder can help farmers — especially small operations — save time and money by condensing multiple tasks into one trip through a no-till field.
Other demonstrations will show visitors the hazards of flowing grain and how to reduce the risks of injury or death in a grain storage facility.
At the Farm Safety Demonstration Area, safety specialists also will offer farm accident rescue simulations involving agricultural equipment, including demonstrations of emergency scene stabilization and patient-extrication techniques.
Attendees can get information about several types of farm-safety programs and agricultural emergency-response resources.
Ag Progress Days is also an opportunity for producers to ask questions of Penn State faculty specialists and extension educators and talk with experts about the latest research findings, best practices, business issues and governmental regulations that could affect their operations.
In addition, horse enthusiasts and owners also can get the latest information on tack and equipment, training, handling, health and business practices at the Ag Progress Days Equine Experience.
Other planned activities and attractions include family living exhibits; food demonstrations; a corn maze; horse exhibitions and clinics; wildlife displays; children’s activities; exhibits of antique farm and home implements in the expanded Pasto Agricultural Museum; and a wide variety of food booths.