Pennsylvania (PA) produces many agronomic crops for various uses. Many crops are produced to feed dairy and other livestock on the farm and some are produced strictly for sale out of the field or dried and stored and sold using hedging or the futures markets. A growing market for Pennsylvania corn is for ethanol production.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service 2012 Census of Agriculture, Pennsylvania had almost 20,000 farms with sales of $1.4 M of agronomic crops.
Penn State Extension has many resources to support the production of field crops in PA. Beginning with soil test kits that producers should use to determine the nutrients already available within the soil and recommendations for nutrients that should be added for optimal production of specific crops. The soil test kits come with several options to be completed by the producer including which crop will be planted in the acres covered by the test. By indicating the crop planned, a more accurate recommendation can be provided. Soil test kits can be obtained at your local Extension office. You should follow the instructions for soil sampling and mailing to the Agricultural Analytic Services Lab. You may also use private labs if you choose. You will receive the results by mail and can then schedule the application of lime and/or nutrients.
Another excellent resource is The Penn State Agronomy Guide which is published every other year. The Agronomy Guide also contains crop budgets for many of the crops grown in PA.
If you are considering organic production, The Penn State Organic Crop Production Guide is an excellent source of information. The guide contains information covering soil health, cover crop rotations, and pest management strategies among other topics.
Land Analysis Lab
The Penn State University Land Analysis Lab also conducts training for producers and industry professionals in the use of Arc View GIS software. This powerful program may be used for mapping farms to determine accurate acreage and may be incorporated into planters and harvesters for more accurate field data. This data may also be used to determine variable rate fertilizer applications to more accurately apply nutrients to the areas of fields for more consistent yields.