HARRISBURG, Pa. – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) invites Ag Progress Days (APD) visitors to check out their interactive demonstrations, displays and tours to learn how conservation practices can benefit an ag operation and the environment and earn a prize.
Located nine miles south of State College, the APD grounds are in Rock Springs, PA. The three-day event will take place from Aug. 13-15 beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The exhibit hours will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 13, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 15. Parking and admission are free to all.
“Ag Progress Days is our premier outreach event of the year,” said PA NRCS APD Coordinator, Ashley Lenig. “It’s a great opportunity for PA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to highlight our technical expertise and the types of assistance we provide. We are excited to showcase our new livestock management practices exhibit which features a concrete heavy use area and roofed waste storage facility. We have also brought back a soil pit this year to educate attendees on the importance of what is under their feet,” said Lenig.
PA NRCS will have a large presence at the event including some new educational attractions this year. The home booth in the Harrington Building will include a cover crop display, soil health demonstrations, and a live web soil survey activity. Outside the Harrington Building, visitors can learn about and view soils in our soil pit and check out our livestock management practices demonstration which adds a concrete heavy use area and roofed manure stacking pad alongside our solar watering systems display. In addition to these, NRCS will be leading the managing pastures tour and co-leading the riparian buffer tour. USDA NRCS provides both free technical assistance as well as financial assistance programs to assist private landowners with meeting their goals while conserving our resources for future generations.
Attendees who visit four or more exhibits, demonstrations, and tours and receive a stamp on their Soil Health Passport will earn a prize. Passports will be available at the main NRCS soil health display in the Harrington Building.
The following descriptions include more details about each activity presented by NRCS during APD:
Exhibits & Demonstrations
Cover Crop Display – Discover the Cover!
See over 20 legume, grass and forb cover crop species and mixtures on display at the USDA-NRCS “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” exhibit. Location: J.D. Harrington Building.
Healthy Soil Demonstration – What is Healthy Soil?
Soil Health is achieved when management mimics nature. See the differences between soils managed conventionally and healthy soils managed with a diverse rotation, very little disturbance, soil cover, and living roots growing throughout the year. Infiltration, runoff, and soil aggregation stability are demonstrated. Location: J.D. Harrington Building.
Web Soil Survey – Custom Soil Maps & Reports
See a live demonstration of the online soil information system Web Soil Survey. View soils information for your land, gather information relating to soil properties and soil interpretations, and generate custom reports. Location: J.D. Harrington Building.
Livestock Management Systems
Check out the NRCS solar-powered watering system for some ideas for your farm, whether you are grazing your animals or just supplying a watering source for your herd while out in the field. NRCS staff will be available to talk about your specific conservation needs for your livestock operation. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside the J.D. Harrington Building).
Heavy Use Area
A demo roofed manure storage and concrete heavy use area shows options for handling liquid and solid wastes when confining animals. Test your knowledge of building materials and see inside a concrete wall. The demonstration includes a roof runoff structure and a vegetative treatment area. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside the J.D. Harrington Building).
Walk into an open soil pit to touch, see, and feel the soil beneath your feet. This hands-on experience will help you learn about soil health and how its beneficial properties can impact your operation. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside the J.D. Harrington Building).
Managing Equine Pastures & Dry Lots
This tour features hands-on activities in equine pastures. We’ll walk through the fields and talk about grass and weed identification, innovative pasture methods, and dry lot design for horses on limited acreage at the demonstration site. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside J.D. Harrington Building).
Managing Livestock Pastures with Alternative Forages
This tour features hands-on activities with cattle on pastures. High stock density grazing will be demonstrated with a small herd of black angus cattle, and we’ll talk about the use of alternative forages and diverse cover crops to transform mediocre fields into highly productive ones. We’ll also talk about soil health principles for both cropping and livestock operations using a rainfall simulator demonstration. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside J.D. Harrington Building).
Stream Buffers & Native Grass Field Tour
This tour focuses on the importance of planting and maintaining trees and shrubs to create a stream buffer that will improve water quality, wildlife habitat, livestock health, property value, and provide edible or medicinal plants. Participants will also learn how to plant native grass fields to increase sustainability and help declining pollinators and beneficial insects. Location: Conservation Exhibit Area (beside J.D. Harrington Building).
Tour times: Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.; Thursday: 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Note: walking/standing involved. If you miss the bus, feel free to walk up and join us!
For more information about Ag Progress Days, visit Penn State’s website.
–Molly Rose, USDA