BROOKINGS, S.D. — After breaking ground in fall 2018, a public grand opening ceremony for the Raven Precision Agriculture Center was held Saturday, September 11, at 2:00 p.m. on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings. Following the ceremony, attendees were invited to take tours of the new $46.1 million facility that was supported by South Dakota stakeholder groups, industry partners and legislative leaders.
“We are here to celebrate an innovative ecosystem that will not only impact the future of SDSU, but will also positively impact our ability to serve this state and region, and to provide educational and hands-on experiences which will lead to our students feeding and sustaining a hungry world,” said John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
The center brings the Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science under one roof, which were previously housed in separate buildings on campus. This innovative environment will allow for increased student-faculty interaction, industry networking opportunities, inter-departmental research collaboration and hands-on learning.
“With the opening of this new facility, we as students will be able to expand our network to those outside of our area of study,” said Rosalyn Madsen, junior precision agriculture student from Franklin, Minnesota. “This new building offers advanced opportunities for we as students as well as faculty, to enhance our knowledge in areas of production agriculture, and allows room for growth as precision technologies constantly advance and change.”
The new facility measures 122,694 sq. ft. and includes 15 teaching labs, six hands-on labs, 12 research labs, 22 collaborative spaces and office space for more than 50 graduate students.
“We have an obligation to lead the next revolution in agriculture,” said Dan Rykhus, Chief Executive Officer of Raven Industries, which the center was named after. “Facilities matter – it’s more than just brick and mortar. We must have people come together to make sure agriculture continues to advance, and the Raven Precision Agriculture Center will make that happen.”
The center features a 4,245 sq. ft. high bay area with a 3-ton overhead crane that provides students with real-world experience working on modern, full-size equipment and machinery.
“This facility, this catalyst for launching precision agriculture forward, is proof that active leadership by individuals and commodity groups works,” said Mike Jaspers, Interim Executive Director of South Dakota Corn. “Our agricultural industry needs to continue to adapt and provide leadership and support in order to ensure we are preparing our graduates to be successful. We need to continue to grow by ensuring we have the facilities and spaces to perform cutting edge research to benefit our agricultural industry, and through the power of young people who attend fine institutions such as SDSU, the industry looks to these students to be the next leaders in our state.”
Additionally, SDSU is one of few universities in the United States to offer dynamometer equipment for teaching and learning, which is adjacently located to the high bay area. In this space, students have the ability to measure rear wheel and PTO horsepower at the same time.
“This grand facility is where innovation will happen, and new technologies will be developed, allowing farmers to be more profitable, our environment healthier, and food supplies more reliable for generations to come,” said Barry H. Dunn, SDSU President. “Our students, now and in the future, who walk the halls of this building, will go on to create new businesses, lead organizations, and conduct research that will forever change the way we grow, harvest, and deliver the world’s food.”
In celebration of the grand opening, SDSU hosted the second Precision Agriculture Bowl football game vs. Lindenwood following the event, which resulted in a 52-7 win for the Jackrabbits.
About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from seven different colleges representing more than 200 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 36 master’s degree programs, 15 Ph.D. programs and two professional programs.
The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings and at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through SDSU Extension offices and South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.
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