South Dakota State University held a groundbreaking ceremony for the future Raven Precision Agriculture Center on the SDSU campus in Brookings on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1:30 p.m. Following the event, SDSU hosted the first-ever Precision Agriculture Bowl football game vs. Indiana State to celebrate the occasion.
The $46.1 million Raven Precision Agriculture Center building project is supported by South Dakota stakeholder groups and legislative leaders.
"The faces of the next generation in agriculture are here at SDSU already," said Cole Berkley, SDSU precision agriculture student, who shared remarks at the ceremony. "By improving the learning of this generation, we are improving the future of agriculture in South Dakota."
The building has 129,000 square feet of floor space that will be able to house modern precision farm equipment and will provide collaborative learning spaces for student design projects. Flexible space will be available so scientists from a variety of departments and industry can collaborate in research and education.
"Employers look to SDSU for their strong and well-rounded agricultural students. 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," Berkley remarked.
SDSU is the first land-grant university in the country to offer both a bachelor's degree and minor 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. "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, 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."
The new Raven Precision Agriculture Center will have classrooms and laboratories that will help foster innovation and collaboration across the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, as well as the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.
South Dakota Representative Lee Qualm is one of the legislative supporters of the project. He said, "This is so exciting for South Dakota agriculture. 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 this 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. There is no doubt that what we have done here will position SDSU to change the world for many years to come," Dunn said.
Final construction plans are in-progress. Some ground work is expected to begin this fall, with construction starting in the spring of 2019.