UNIVERSITY PARK - Agricultural producers are busy people who often find it hard to get away to shop for equipment or learn the latest production practices.
Penn State's Ag Progress Days exposition, which takes place Aug. 12-14, offers farm operators the chance to compare goods and services, see the latest machinery in action, and find out about new methods and technologies that can help them maximize productivity -- all in a single trip.
"Producers face a range of challenges, such as weather variability, soil erosion, pest management, environmental concerns, worker safety, global competition and ever-changing regulations," said Bob Oberheim, Ag Progress Days manager.
"Our goal is to sponsor an event that can help farmers and those in related industries get the information and resources they need to address these and other issues."
Oberheim noted that the annual event accomplishes this through nearly 500 commercial and educational exhibits, several field demonstrations and a variety of workshops aimed at helping farmers enhance efficiency and profitability.
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.
Field demonstrations continue to be a popular feature of Ag Progress Days, according to Oberheim.
"These demos give visitors the chance to see machinery from different manufacturers in a setting outside the dealer showroom, performing under real-world conditions," he said.
A new demonstration in 2014 will spotlight air seeders, drills and planters.
"The major brands will showcase their newest technology in planters, drills and air seeders operating in no-till conditions," Oberheim said. "This is a must see if you're contemplating purchasing one of these implements in the coming year."
Also in action during all three days of the event will be hay mowers, hay rakes and tedders, hay balers, and bale handlers. All demonstrations are weather-permitting.
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 a no-till field to plant seed and to apply fertilizer and herbicide -- tasks that most farmers now must accomplish with three passes and several pieces of equipment.
At the Farm Safety Demonstration Area, safety specialists will use a remote-controlled tractor to demonstrate tractor overturn hazards and show visitors how to reduce the risks.
Experts 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.
Oberheim pointed out that Ag Progress Days also is 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.
He said information will be available on issues related to dairy, livestock and crop production; animal health; soil conservation; water quality; and ag renewable energy such as biogas, biodiesel and ethanol -- including their potential as alternative sources of income.
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.
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 Aug. 12; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 14. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at http://apd.psu.edu.