South Dakota Corn Invests in the Future of the Ag Industry

South Dakota corn farmers are one step closer to seeing our state become the leader in precision agriculture. By better preparing students for up-and-coming careers in the agriculture industry, South Dakota State University (SDSU) will be setting the next generation of South Dakota corn farmers up for success—and providing them with excellent support in the field and innovative technology solutions.

This weekend, SDSU will host a groundbreaking for the Raven Precision Agriculture Center on campus in Brookings, S.D. This groundbreaking is the culmination of years of support and tireless efforts from South Dakota Corn and other South Dakota agriculture industry enthusiasts.

First in the Nation

SDSU is the only land-grant university in the U.S. that offers a precision agriculture major for students, so the long-term impact will ripple throughout the agriculture industry as more students graduate with these valuable degrees. SDSU began offering a precision agriculture bachelor’s degree in 2016.

“We have to be able to increase productivity, and we have to reduce environmental impact,” says John Killefer, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of SDSU College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences (CAFES). “Precision agriculture technologies are going to be central for being successful in that. We’re going to have students that are going to be leaders in this growing field. SDSU is really going to have a huge impact to help solve some of these grand challenges.”

Born in the South Dakota Corn Boardroom

The idea for the Raven Precision Agriculture Center was born right in the South Dakota Corn boardroom more than five years ago. Many board members wanted to see a revitalization of SDSU’s CAFES. After years of discussion, interest began growing in possibly remodeling Berg Hall, home to the CAFES, and replacing it with a state-of-the-art facility.

When President Barry Dunn was named as SDSU President, the South Dakota Corn Council committed more than $6.5 million to the project. Other key contributors added funds and worked with agriculture industry leaders to keep the project moving forward.

Leading the Way

South Dakota Corn Growers Association and Raven Industries worked tirelessly to get the legislation passed that enabled the Raven Precision Agriculture Center to become reality. Raven Industries donated $5 million in early 2018 to help fund the project.

“South Dakota Corn believes the Raven Precision Agriculture Center is a true game changer, not only for the state of South Dakota, but for the entire agriculture industry, and we were honored to be part of it,” says Lisa Richardson, South Dakota Corn Executive Director.

The Raven Precision Agriculture Center will lead the U.S. in precision agriculture education, research and Extension. The facility will bring agronomy, engineering and computer science disciplines under one roof.

“The need for advanced technology and solutions within the precision agriculture industry is growing, as is the need for a highly engaged and skilled workforce,” says Dan Rykhus, president and CEO of Raven Industries. “The Raven Precision Agriculture Center was designed to have a long-lasting impact on innovation and technology within the industry.”

Next Steps

South Dakota Corn is now playing an integral role as the project moves into its second phase, which includes hiring outstanding staff to run the state-of-the-art facility. SDSU plans to endow the head faculty position, and South Dakota Corn will provide the funds for the endowed position.

The groundbreaking ceremony will occur on Saturday, October 6, from 1:30-3:30 pm just south of the Animal Science Complex on the corner of Medary Avenue and North Campus Drive on the SDSU campus in Brookings.

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