I’ve attended a lot of farm shows over the years but this year’s Ag Progress Days near State College, Pennsylvania was my first.

The Farm and Dairy staff has covered the event for decades, but we’ve always sent someone from the Salem, Ohio area. I made the trip from Wooster, Ohio, which was about a five-hour drive. I can’t complain, though, because it gave me the chance to explore some places in Central Pennsylvania where I had never been. I spent four nights camping and three days hiking, mostly in the Bellefonte area. I visited Bald Eagle State Park to the north, Black Moshannon State Park to the southwest, and Rothrock State Forest to the southeast. I added a couple hundred miles to the trip just by driving form place to place, but it was a scenic trip (and I bought the gas).

I also got in a little mountain climbing, as I climbed the famous Mount Nittany (2,077 ft.), which overlooks State College and part of the Penn State campus. It’s certainly not the highest peak around, but the rocky trails make up for the shorter trails. I got a good workout on the way up, and an even greater workout on the way down, as I did everything I could to keep from tripping.

Show begins

And it’s a good thing I didn’t trip, because Tuesday morning I was at the farm show bright and early. It reminded me a lot of Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review, except on a smaller scale. All the major equipment companies were on display and there were quite a few antiques, as well.

The Pasto Agriculture museum housed displays dating back to at least the early 1800s — things like horse-drawn plows, seeders and an outdoor grain threshing display that was flat out excellent. The volunteers who put on the threshing display were easy to understand and very informative.

One of the things that impressed me most were the forage demonstrations. The Ohio Farm Science Review is held in the fall, when forage season is mostly over. But because Ag Progress Days are in the summer, the hay display is a major focus. There were at least a half dozen demonstrations with different hay mowers, rakes and mergers, as well as balers. It was impressive to see them in operation, and side-by-side.

Faces with names

Another thing that I liked was getting to meet facet-to-face, some of the people who I’ve been talking to over the phone and Internet for the past four years. I’ve interviewed several of the faculty at Penn State, and it was nice getting to meet a few of them in person.

As Penn State President Rodney Erickson said during his luncheon, the university has one of the top agriculture colleges in the world, and I certainly saw some of the reasons why.

One of the articles I wrote dealt with the three resource centers that were announced during the show: Food safety, animal care and plant health.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is partnering with Penn State to create these centers, which will be housed at Penn State.

That may not sound very interesting, today, but when these centers get up and running, I think they will be very interesting, and very useful, to Keystone State farmers.

I also wrote about the Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator — a patented implement that applies herbicide and fertilizer to corn, while at the same time plants cover crops between the rows. This allows farmers to plant into standing corn, and eliminates an entire pass across the field.

This will be something to watch over the coming years, as this technology hits the marketplace.

Talking about farming

I’m working on a couple more articles from the event. But I have to admit, some of my best time was just spent talking to Pennsylvania farmers, whether it was over lunch or as I walked across the grounds.

They gave me a feel for how they were coping with the cool summer, how they handled farming on those Pennsylvania hillsides, and all sorts of other things that probably won’t make a headline, but will at least give me some background.

As I drove home from the show, I thought about how thankful I am that we have some staff who live in and near Pennsylvania, who are a little more familiar with the issues in that state than I am.

But, it was a good experience for me personally, to cross the state line and visit with some of the readers to my east. They make a large part of our newspaper and I enjoyed meeting them.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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