South Dakota State University broke ground Oct. 6 on the new Raven Precision Agriculture Center on the Brookings, S.D., campus.
The $46.1 million facility will have 129,000 square feet of floor space that will house modern precision farm equipment and will provide collaborative learning spaces for student design projects.
Flexible space will be available so SDSU and industry scientists and technology developers can collaborate in research and education.
SDSU is the first land-grant university in the country to offer both a bachelor's degree and minor in precision agriculture.
"Employers look to SDSU for their strong and well-rounded agricultural students,” said Cole Berkley, SDSU precision agriculture student, who was among dignitaries who made remarks at the ground breaking. “Now they can select students to work in the vast field of precision agriculture with great confidence. The new Raven Precision Agriculture Center will tremendously help SDSU to continue providing a high-quality education to students, so they are well-prepared to meet the growing demand for work in precision agriculture."
"Raven is excited for the future of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center and the positive impact it will have on the next generation of precision agriculture professionals," said Lon Stroschein, director of corporate development for Raven, which donated $5 million to the project. "We felt strongly that we needed to invest in this partnership with SDSU not only for the workforce that it will help develop, but also for the collaboration and innovation that it will bring to the field of precision agriculture. What we are doing here really matters."
Ryan Wagner, a farmer and president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, said, "Precision agriculture has revolutionized the way we farm and is still in its infancy. We can only imagine what innovations we will be using five years from now. This world-class facility will generate widespread benefits for farmers throughout the state and its economic impact will be tremendous. It will be a game changer, not only for South Dakota, but for the entire agriculture industry. South Dakota Corn is proud to support this incredible project."
"This is so exciting for South Dakota agriculture,” said Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte, who was one of the supporters of the project in the legislature. “The Raven Precision Agriculture Center will be used to develop new technology that will bring jobs to South Dakota and help the best farmers and ranchers in the world do what they do best."
SDSU President Barry Dunn said the project is tangible proof that the people of South Dakota are willing to imagine the future and SDSU's place in it.
"As president, I spend a lot of time thinking about what this place needs to be not just now, but long after I am gone," Dunn said. "There is no doubt that what we have done here will position SDSU to change the world for many years to come."