South Dakota State University is moving forward with its new precision agriculture center after a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday. Stakeholders say the Raven Precision Agriculture Center will make Brookings the “Silicon Valley” of ag innovation.
Precision agriculture incorporates data analytics, GPS mapping and other courses to help future farmers use new technology to better predict and increase yields.
SDSU President Barry Dunn says precision ag is the future of food sustainability and production. He says the program is a marriage of the best of what the university has to offer.
“This is a revolutionary period of time. It’ll go down as historic and we’re really proud to be at the front of this,” says Dunn.
SDSU is the first land-grant university in the nation to offer precision ag as both a major and a minor. The $46-million new facility is the result of partnerships between the university, state legislators and private industry leaders. Lon Stroschein* is director of corporate development for Raven Industries. He believes investing in this facility will give Raven access to some of the best educated students in the world.
“We’re gonna have a bigger pool of students to recruit and bring in, and we’re gonna give them jobs here in Brookings or in Madison or in Sioux Falls, South Dakota—but across the country and around the world working in agriculture. And we’re excited about rising that tide," says Stroschein.
Current students helped break ground on the new center. Johnna Jorgensen is a junior precision ag and agronomy double major. She says it’s exciting to be a part of something that will continue impacting the school long after she’s graduated.
“It was revolutionizing I think for agriculture at SDSU," she says. "This really puts SDSU as an ag leader in the industry, which is exciting stuff, being a student here.”
Limited work is expected this fall, with full construction of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center set to begin in spring of 2019.
* Lon Stroschein is a board member with the Friends of SDPB.