April 9, 2024

NDSU, partners receive $50 million AgTech research funding


NDSU recently hosted U.S. Senator John Hoeven and a group of agriculture partners on campus to recognize $50 million of federal funding targeted at agricultural endeavors in the state. 

The funding will cover a wide range of initiatives including NDSU's agriculture policy research center (funded through the USDA Economic Research Service) and the AgTech Cooperative Agreement between Grand Farm, NDSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to enhance the precision agriculture research (funded through the ARS).

The NDSU agriculture policy research center will conduct in-depth policy and economic analysis addressing farm and agribusiness challenges. "The center will complement similar programs at the University of Missouri and Texas A&M University," said Hoeven. 

Greg Lardy, NDSU vice president for agriculture, added that the center will be a cornerstone for agriculture issues in the area and will bring data analysis about agriculture concerns in the upper Midwest directly to policy makers in Washington, D.C. 

The center is set to open this fall. $19.5 million will be spread across a large umbrella of priority agriculture technology research led by NDSU involving projects such as autonomous systems, sensors, high throughput data systems, agriculture data security, precision agriculture and predictive crop performance.

"There's a lot of tech in agriculture right now," said Colleen Fitzgerald, vice president for research and creative activity at NDSU, "But NDSU is putting the ‘ag’ in technology." Fitzerald said that a key result of the research projects will be economic and that the initiatives will put money right back into the pockets of North Dakota farmers and ranchers.

Lardy and Fitzgerald are the primary architects behind NDSU's transdisciplinary food, energy and water security (FEWS) research initiative, which drives the strategy overarching these investment areas identified by the federal investment. Since 2022, the momentum behind FEWS has grown. Lardy said that while not unique to North Dakota, FEWS issues are among the most important that NDSU researchers are addressing today. He added that their solutions require NDSU's expertise in machine learning, autonomy and AI research and will form the foundation of the future of agriculture.

Hoeven noted the value of the AgTech partnerships represented in the room and how they are valued by leadership across the state. Fitzgerald added that the level of partnership that NDSU has with ARS and entities such as Grand Farm is rare and she appreciated the investment to nurture the collaborations. "People want to come to North Dakota because we can offer expertise in ag research bundled with test beds to see the results in action," she said.

Workforce remains both a component of this work and a positive result of its success. "Great research programs that create meaningful solutions to today's problems will continue to transform the state," said NDSU President David Cook. "This momentum will serve as a magnet to draw even more of the best researchers to North Dakota who will create the types of programs that students want to be a part of."

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