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Ag progress days underway

Small farming showcased

Durwin Parks demonstrates how a water wheel planter works at Ag Progress Days on Tuesday. The new vegetable demonstration area shows visitors the latest equipment for planting, harvesting and irrigation. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec

ROCK SPRINGS — Ag Progress Days is not just for the big guys.

“We are showcasing small farming in Pennsylvania. There is always a lot of big stuff here. This is a brand new display to showcase small farming machinery instead of large,” said Durwin Parks, a salesman for Iva Manufacturing, Narvona, and co-coordinator for the vegetable demonstration area display.

“There has been a push toward Pa. Preferred, Buy Local and Farm to Fork. It has caused more people to plant produce on smaller acreage,” he said.

“We are showing folks equipment that is available for small produce farms. A lot of our produce farms are dealing with small acreage,” said Jeff Stoltzfus, a farm food safety educator for Penn State Extension.

The new vegetable demonstration area shows visitors the latest equipment for planting, harvesting and irrigation, while an adjacent plot contains the end result — vegetables grown using the featured equipment.

Vegetable production is becoming big business in Pennsylvania. According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the commonwealth is among the country’s top 10 producers for several crops, including bell peppers, cantaloupes, pumpkins and snap beans.

Ag Progress Days — the state’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition — typically is heavy on traditional agricultural endeavors, such as row crops and animal production.

“But with the increase in interest over the decades, it’s time that equipment specifically for vegetable growers gets its share of the spotlight,” said Tom Butzler, Penn State Extension horticulture educator and co-coordinator of the vegetable demonstrations.

Some of the equipment being showcased includes modern plows and harrows and a finger wheel cultivator.

“As it moves, its wheels turn and insecticides the ground, and it causes the weeds to die,” Parks said. “The transplanter machine transplants young cabbage, tomato and pepper plants (like seedlings) into the ground.”

During the three days, attendees can observe how equipment pulls and covers beds with plastic, as well as how that plastic is removed at the end of the growing season.

“Visitors also will see how transplants are inserted into the raised beds and how they are maintained throughout the growing season to address pest issues,” Butzler said.

However, due to the rainy, wet weather, the equipment demonstration was canceled on Tuesday and visitors did a walking tour instead.

The vegetable equipment demonstrations can be found at the western edge of the exhibit field along Demo Alley, where West Ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th streets end.

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,

9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission and parking are free.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

Woodbury, Bellefonte farms

on Dairy of Distinction list

ROCK SPRINGS — Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding on Tuesday praised winners of the annual Dairy of Distinction Awards during the Penn State College of Agricultural Science’s Ag Progress Days.

Among this year’s winners are Ryan Carbaugh of Waterside Farm, Woodbury, and Dennis Brooks of Brookway Holsteins LLC, Bellefonte.

“Pennsylvania dairy farms have set the bar high for quality in both appearance and output,” Redding said in a statement. “The farms we’re honoring today represent the exemplary image of a farm that consumers trust, and a farm that is owned and managed by someone who is a good neighbor, a good steward of land and resources, and an exemplary business.”

Since 1983, the Northeast Dairy Farm Beautification Program has recognized dairy owner-operators who have attractive, well-kept farms and promote a good dairy industry image. Active dairy farms in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Vermont are eligible to apply for the Dairy of Distinction award. Winning farms receive the special Dairy of Distinction roadside sign for their farmstead, and undergo a yearly review to ensure that they maintain the high standards the award represents.

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