SDSU precision ag facility receives $500k donation

Farm Credit Services of America donates toward future facility

By: SDSU Extension iGrow and staff reports

South Dakota State University has received a $500,000 gift from Farm Credit Services of America to support construction of a Precision Agriculture Facility on the SDSU campus, university officials announced this week.

The facility will be a hub for research, teaching and innovation that covers the entire spectrum of precision agriculture and will enable collaboration with differing disciplines within that space.

The South Dakota Board of Regents last month approved of South Dakota State University’s facility program plan for a $55 million project that would build a new Precision Ag Classroom and Laboratory building and renovate Berg Ag Hall.

The state Legislature must next approve of the plan before SDSU can start the construction process.

The ag lab building alone will cost an estimated $31.8 million and will be located at the corner of Medary Avenue and North Campus Drive, directly west of the Edgar S. McFadden Biostress Lab and across the street from the Animal Science Complex.

Most of the money for the project will come from ag property tax rebate funds, amounting to $31.5 million. Another $10 million will be provided through private donations. The university’s Research Infrastructure Improvement Fund will provide $7.5 million to the total, and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council will contribute $6 million, according to the plan on the BOR website.

“SDSU is extremely grateful to Farm Credit Services of America for their support of the Precision Ag project at this substantial level,” Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Don Marshall said. “Their generosity and our shared vision of the future of agriculture will help position SDSU students and researchers to address the grand challenges of global food security with technology and efficient production methods that sustain our natural resources for future generations.”

SDSU offers the first four-year precision agriculture degree in the United States. The degree is a collaborative effort encompassing the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science Department and College of Engineering.

University officials say the SDSU precision agriculture degree keeps students at the cutting edge of the rapidly evolving intersection of agronomics, high-speed sensor technology, data management and advanced machinery development. Students will be prepared for lifelong careers that support economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture.

“We, like our customers, are interested in efficient practices that maximize production and profits. We are proud to support South Dakota State University as it helps lead innovation in agriculture,” said Bob Schmidt, senior vice president for FCSAmerica in South Dakota. “Graduates from this program will be ready to meet the technology and expertise needs of employers in agronomy, equipment and more. Producers will have additional support in applying precision ag to their operations because of the work that will be done in this facility.”

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