Farm Progress

Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, set for Aug. 15-17, rolls out the latest on industrial hemp, along with new ag tech, plus much more.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

July 14, 2017

4 Min Read

Preparations for Penn State University’s Ag Progress Days are ramping up. Close to 500 commercial ag exhibitors will soon be streaming to the show site at Rock Springs, Pa. The field day cranks up on Tuesday, Aug. 15, and runs through Thursday, Aug. 17, with field machinery demonstrations, a host of educational events, plus fun activities for all ages.

Industrial hemp production and its uses will likely be one of the “hot” APD topics, due to a statewide research and development plan now in place. That will be addressed in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture building on the show site and at outlying research plots. (See “Industrial hemp to be hot topic”below.)

A Technologies in Agriculture seminar hasn’t yet been finalized, reports Interim APD Manager Jesse Darlington Jr. But it’s likely to include fast-developing technologies such as variable-rate applications, robotic milking and new potential uses for ag drones.

These same topics will be featured in many commercial exhibits on the field, adds Darlington. Some of them will be running during demonstrations.

Field demo schedule
Here’s the daily schedule for new machine demonstrations:

• 10:30 a.m.: Alfalfa hay mowing
• 11:30 a.m.: Hay merging and tedding
• 12:30 p.m.: No-till corn planting
• 2 p.m.: Hay raking
• 2:30 p.m.: Hay baling
• 3:30 p.m.: Bale handling

Other key events
Here’s a roundup of a few of the major APD happenings:

This year’s theme for the Ag College Building Theatre centers around “What can I do to protect our water?” Exhibits will address keeping pesticides out of groundwater, invasive aquatic species, lead in drinking water, and a new tool for investigating stream health.

Several new educational bus tours are scheduled. One is the two-pronged Adaptive Grazing Soil Health bus tour with two to three daily tours. The first segment focuses on how tall grass or high stock density can create highly productive pasture for extending grazing into winter. The second covers diverse cover crop mixes and how to graze them for extra forage.

Another new bus tour shows how to create multifunctional stream buffers and plant native grasses. It covers creating habitat for pollinators, invasive weed management and available financial assistance. That one starts at 11:30 a.m. daily.

Also new is a tour to a display of plasticulture and irrigation at the High Tunnel Research and Extension Facility for vegetable and small-fruit growers. It leaves the exhibit field at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily.

Pennsylvania’s Ag Department’s building will host these useful presentations:

• Tuesday, Aug 15: Discover what’s in the farmland preservation toolbox at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m., learn about apprenticeships for agriculture equipment service technicians.

• Wednesday, Aug. 16: Learn about the Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment (ACRE) Act 39 Outreach at 11 a.m. The apprenticeships for ag program will repeat at 2 p.m.

• Thursday, Aug 17: The apprenticeships for ag program repeats again at 9 a.m. That’s followed by an update on pollinator insects at 10 a.m. And learn about the PA-Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program at 11 a.m.

Aerial drone and tractor rollover demonstrations will share Penn State’s Farm Safety area at the show. “We’ll have sessions on how drones can benefit agriculture at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday,” says Darlington.

“Our ag safety experts are seeing more accidents with hay mows,” he adds, “so they’ll be doing a hay hole cover demonstration, also at this site on the west edge of the exhibit field.”

How to get there
APD is held at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, about 9 miles southwest of State College on State Route 45. Set your GPS to: 2710 West Pine Grove Road, Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa. For more APD details, click on


Industrial hemp to be a hot topic

The growing and marketing of industrial hemp is sure to be a high-interest topic at Ag Progress Days. It’ll be covered on Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Wednesday, Aug. 16, in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture building.

HEMP, NOT MARIJUANA: Research and market development efforts for industrial hemp will be key topics.

• On Tuesday at 11 a.m., you can learn about hemp’s past in Pennsylvania. At 1 p.m., hemp’s future will be explored.

• At 1 p.m. Wednesday, a Pennsylvania Hemp Co. spokesman will talk about growing and processing the product.  Then at 3 p.m. Bill and Martha Roberts, Perry County farmers, will talk about their hemp test plots and plans for using hemp as cattle feed.

• At 2 p.m. each day, you can take a bus tour to the hemp research plots. There, you’ll see varieties being grown for seed, learn about the crop’s market potential and hear about agronomic practices.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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