Photo by Craig Chandler, UNL University Communication and Marketing

Construction of a new $160-million facility at Nebraska Innovation Campus got underway on May 6 with a groundbreaking ceremony. The state-of-the-art National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Nebraska Innovation Campus. It will be home to world-leading research and development in areas critical to the future of agriculture, with a focus on promoting sustainable, resilient, and highly efficient agriculture practices.

“There is a long history of scientific innovation and collaboration between ARS and UNL, typical of the USDA-land-grant university partnerships across the country,” says Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education, and economics. “Updated facilities ensure our best and brightest scientists work in the environment and with the tools they need to successfully meet the challenges agriculture faces.”

Once completed, the center is expected to double the USDA’s science and support staff presence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It will serve as a central hub where multidisciplinary experts, scientists, and engineers can collaborate with industry and producers to improve water and food security, increase the resilience of agricultural landscapes, and enhance agricultural profitability.

Construction will start with state-of-the-art greenhouses that will allow ARS to conduct research on crops including wheat, barley, sorghum, forage, and bioenergy grasses. By understanding how these plants respond to emerging pests and pathogens under various environmental conditions, scientists will be able to develop climate-resilient crops for the U.S. agriculture industry.

Mike Boehm, the Vice Chancellor for UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, adds, “This project is a testament to the long history of innovation, ingenuity, and adaptability of agricultural producers across the United States and right here in Nebraska. It celebrates an incredibly productive 120-year partnership between USDA-ARS and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and it exemplifies the passion and dedication of agricultural, state, and federal leaders.”