The South Dakota State University Raven Precision Agricultural Center will begin its second academic year of use after celebrating its completion last September. The building is already housing important work as the university helps prepare students for the future of American agriculture.
SDSU is land-grant university, meaning it receives benefits under the 19th century Morrill Acts. Essentially, the United States government helped establish the university under the condition it would focus at least partially on agriculture and the mechanical arts, in addition to other sciences and fields of study.
Back in 2015, the university began offering a minor in precision agriculture and then became the country’s first land-grant university to offer it as a major for a bachelor’s degree as well in 2016. In the years since, a few dozen students have graduated with this degree, but many more are currently enrolled in this program with the Raven Precision Agriculture Center serving as their new academic home. They are joined by hundreds more students who are gaining valuable laboratory and classroom experience for their studies in agronomy, agricultural systems technology, agricultural science and agricultural and biosystems engineering.
The New Facilities
The construction of the Raven Precision Agricultural Center took more than three years as work went on through the COVID-19 pandemic. The new 122,694 square-foot facility has both the space and the amenities to allow students to get the most hands-on experience in the field of agriculture.
There are 15 teaching labs, 12 research labs, more than 50 offices for graduate students and 22 collaborative spaces in addition to areas that will contain modern precision farm equipment. For example, there is a 3-ton overhead crane in 4,245 square-foot high-bay area, which will allow students to get hands-on experience of what it’s like to work with modern, heavy farm machinery.
Of course, the new building benefits more than just students. According to the university’s website, scientists from various departments and also industry partners from the agricultural field will be able to collaborate on research, education and outreach in the new facility.
The Raven Precision Agricultural Center project came with a price tag of $46.1 million. Support for the project came from partners in the agricultural industry, stakeholder groups in South Dakota and a variety of legislative leaders in South Dakota. McCown Gordon Construction completed the construction work.
Before the construction of this new facility, the various agriculture-related departments were all housed in separate buildings. Now, agriculture and biosystems engineering, agronomy, horticulture and plant science departments are all together in the Raven Precision Agriculture Center. This is an especially important development considering the growing precision agriculture major.
One of the goals for the new facility was to create an environment with increased student-faculty interaction, more research collaboration between department and enhanced networking opportunities in the field of agriculture. With the technology of agriculture continuing to develop rapidly, SDSU wants to ensure that their students are not left behind. In fact, the hope is the new facility and the equipment and amenities within help the students lead the way going forward.
Technology in the agricultural industry changes constantly, due to updates in the fields of drones, GPS, farm equipment, satellites and sensors. Thus, curriculums and research methods must also quickly adapt just to be able to keep up. But with the Raven Precision Agricultural Center, South Dakota State University is looking to be the place that leads those innovations.
At Construction Protection Systems, we’re proud to have played a small part in development of the South Dakota State University Raven Precision Agriculture Center. Stay tuned for more updates from the makers of 1-2-3 Door Shield—the original, reusable door protection system.