CHS Foundation Announces $1.5 Million Gift to Support SDSU Precision Agriculture Program

On November 15, the CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., announced a $1.5 million grant to support the South Dakota State University 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 preeminent precision agriculture program a reality,” said John Killefer, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. 

The gift aligns with CHS priorities around ensuring that educating the next generation of agricultural leadership includes technology and tradition. 

“The CHS Foundation is committed to supporting projects that cultivate opportunity for students interested in the agriculture industry,” said Nanci Lilja, president, CHS Foundation. “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 and 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 South Dakota to lead the nation in precision agriculture research, teaching and innovation.

“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 square feet 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. Some ground work is expected to begin this fall, with construction starting in spring 2019. 

Pictured above from left to right: College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean John Killefer, Tracy Jones of CHS, Randy Knecht of CHS, CHS Foundation President Nanci Lilja, SDSU President Barry Dunn, Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering Dean Bruce Berdanier, Dave Kayser of CHS, and Ed Mallett of CHS.

Pictured from left to right: Precision ag student Lora Brummer, precision ag student John Stubbendick, Tracy Jones of CHS, Randy Knecht of CHS, CHS Foundation President Nanci Lilja, SDSU President Barry Dunn, Dave Kayser of CHS, precision ag student Johnna Jorgensen and precision ag student Logan Held.