8/10/2013 7:00 AM
By Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade Special Sections Editor
For the past two weeks, a steady stream of tractors, trailers and trucks have been rolling into Rock Springs, filling the Ag Progress Days staging area. Ag Progress Days manager Bob Oberheim and his staff have been working round the clock preparing for the show’s opening on Tuesday.
The show will feature a record-breaking 493 exhibitors. Oberheim said the show has a new street, East 7th Street, to accommodate more exhibits. The street is located near the Penn State corn plots.
Oberheim expects more than 42,000 people will stream onto the Penn State Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs on Route 45 to visit a wide variety of exhibits, field demonstrations and tours.
Planning for the 2013 show began before the 2012 concluded, he said.
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, and insurance.
The ride-and-drive area gives farmers the chance to try out equipment. Oberhiem said many of the exhibitors will bring equipment with new technology such as GPS, precision applications, tractor autosteer and high-tech computer systems.
Research tours are a highlight of the show. Farmers have the opportunity to see what cutting edge ideas are being studied on the research farm or at the Penn State campus.
"We have some excellent tours," Oberheim said. Instead of a general research tour, the schedule was reformatted to feature top projects happening at Penn State. New features include the Beef and Sheep Center tour, a pasture management and high density grazing tour, and a tour of the Penn State Deer Research Center.
"We take our own ideas, the ideas that come to us and requests for tours and put together a good schedule for each year's show," he said of the tours.
The demonstration area will feature hay mergers and choppers. Hay demonstrations have been a cornerstone of the field demonstrations, Oberheim said. This year, the decision to include hay mergers and mowers follows the tradition of adding something new every year. Hay mergers and mowers fit into the 2013 crop rotation, which is alfalfa this year.
Building on the Penn State interseeder project, a cover crop demonstration area has been added.
"Producers are using more cover crops to combat soil erosion and to add nutrients to the soil," Oberheim said. "The interseeder will be there. We will showcase several crops planted in June." There will also be a demonstration of how the interseeder works, planting cover crops into an established early-growth corn field.
Ag Progress Days is a unique partnership between industry and the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. The show is sponsored by the university, and is one of only a few university-sponsored agricultural trade shows. The other university-sponsored shows are located in the Midwest.
In addition showcasing the latest technology to farmers, the show is a great venue for the college to connect with prospective students.
“We have the opportunity to visit with current and prospective students and their families and provide information and resources to enhance educational access and the successful transition of students to our college,” said Tracy Hoover, associate dean for undergraduate education at Penn State.
Hoover said the show allows youth to learn about a wide range of agricultural career fields.
The show also allows visitors to interact with Penn State Extension educators and researchers.
For more details about Ag Progress Days, including a schedule, exhibitor list, maps and show highlights, go to this week's Ag Progress Days Preview Section, Section E.