The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., recently announced a $1.5 million grant to support the South Dakota State University (SDSU) precision agriculture program and construction of the new Raven Precision Agriculture Center on campus.
"The gift from the CHS Foundation is pivotal in allowing us to make our globally pre-eminent precision agriculture program a reality," said John Killefer, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of the SDSU College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.
The gift aligns with CHS's priorities around ensuring that educating the next generation of agricultural leadership includes technology and tradition, the company said.
"The CHS Foundation is committed to supporting projects that cultivate opportunity for students interested in the agriculture industry," CHS Foundation president Nanci Lilja said. "By supporting the precision ag program at SDSU, there will be more qualified graduates entering the agriculture industry."
SDSU is the nation's first land-grant university to offer a bachelor's degree and minor in precision agriculture. The degree is a collaborative effort encompassing the agricultural and biosystems engineering department and the agronomy, horticulture and plant science department in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences as well as the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.
SDSU's precision agriculture degree will provide students with access to cutting-edge developments in 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.
This facility will allow the state to lead the nation in precision agriculture research, teaching and innovation, according to the announcement.
"The gift in support of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center will positively impact our students and industry for decades to come," Killefer said. "This commitment from the CHS Foundation illustrates the leadership role and vision they have within the agricultural industry."
The building has 129,000 sq. ft. 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 give scientists from a variety of departments and industry space to collaborate on research and education.
"Precision agriculture technology is ever-changing," Lilja said. "It's exciting to envision the impact students will have by developing new technologies through collaboration with their peers and industry leaders in this new environment."
Final construction plans are in progress, with some groundwork expected to begin this fall. Construction will start in the spring of 2019.