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Ag Progress Days Ends On High Note After Rainy Start

by on August 15, 2014 11:10 AM

Ag Progress Days show manager Bob Oberheim felt a personal sense of pride when he looked out at the crowds of farmers and families marveling at the collection of demonstrations and exhibitions on the last day of the annual event on Thursday.

Though some may see agriculture as a low-tech industry, Oberheim says this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“In agriculture, we’re on the brink of some of the highest and most advanced technological concepts out there,” he says.

Some of these technological advancements – many of which were on display at the popular agriculture and equipment expo – include sensors that can read the nutritional value of crops as a farmer works through his field and GPS systems that can map a field and predict future crop yields.

Corey Dillon, one of the exhibitors at the event, has had a hands-on experience with advanced agricultural technology over the last five years. A former graduate student at Penn State, he helped develop an entirely new piece of equipment: the interseeder.

Developed in the same research center that hosts Ag Progress, the interseeder allows farmers to plant cover crops in cornfields months earlier in the season than they would be able to otherwise. It also fertilizes the corn and spreads a herbicide at the same time, and can be used to plant “anything from grass to soybeans.”

“The response has been absolutely tremendous,” Dillon says. “I’ve been talking to people basically non-stop.”

Karen Engel also helped bring new technologies to Ag Progress Days. The territory manager for Soil-Max was promoting a piece of equipment called a tile plow, which helps farmers manage excess water in their fields. Though tile plows are common on farms in the Midwest, she says the technology is still fairly new to the east coast.

“It feels awesome when I get to help a farmer become more profitable,” Engel says. “We need more farmers to stay in business longer.”

Though the event got off to a rainy and muddy start on Tuesday, attendance and enthusiasm came back with a vengeance on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing about 42,000 people out to the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Rock Springs.

Chuck Gill, a communications officer with the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences (which sponsors the event), says Ag Progress Days is difficult to categorize. It combines aspects of a trade show or expo with those of a festival or fair, which contributes to its popularity.

“There are both educational aspects and entertainment opportunities here,” Gill says. “We’re very unique in that sense.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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