Image synthesis (top view) of the fully completed USDA ARS National Center for Resilient & Regenerative Precision Agriculture, including state-of-the-art greenhouses for crop, forage, and bioenergy grasses research. (Image courtesy of HDR)

Lincoln, NE (May 6, 2024) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), and Nebraska Innovation Campus held a groundbreaking ceremony today to launch the construction of the National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture. The state-of-the-art research center will be located on Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. It will primarily focus on the challenges and opportunities in agricultural innovation for the 21st century.

“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,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary 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.”

During this digital era, agricultural production and agricultural landscapes are transforming. Farmers and producers need the latest information technology, tools, and data to make informed and innovative decisions for their unique operations. The Center will focus on key research areas to address these challenges and promote sustainable, resilient, and highly efficient agriculture practices.

“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,” said Mike Boehm, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor for UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Nebraska is a special place with incredible people, and the ripples of what we do here often extend around the globe. I believe the work that will take place in this facility will usher in a new era of American agriculture, and I’m thrilled that what happens next in agriculture will happen first in Nebraska.”

Construction will start with state-of-the-art greenhouses that will allow ARS to perform research on wheat, barley, sorghum, forage and bioenergy grasses and other crops. Research on how these plants respond to emerging pests and pathogens under a full-range of environmental conditions will empower scientists to make cutting-edge discoveries with the goal of developing climate-resilient crops for the U.S. agriculture industry.

Once fully completed, the 120,000-square-foot agriculture research complex will function as a central hub for multidisciplinary experts, scientists and engineers who will collaborate with industry and producers to improve water and food security, increase the resilience of agricultural landscapes, and enhance agricultural profitability.

The establishment of the National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture will further strengthen the long-lasting collaboration over the past century between ARS and UNL. These partnerships are instrumental in advancing research on sustainable bioenergy crops and production systems in an age where agriculture is expected to supply 40 percent of U.S. liquid fuels within the next three decades, in addition to providing food and fiber to the nation’s growing population.

The Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research Unit and the Agroecosystem Management Research Unit are currently located on UNL’s campus. The scientists working at these units are making significant contributions to crop and livestock production systems by improving productivity, stability of production, sustainability, and profitability.

Other leaders who provided remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony included:

  • University of Nebraska System Interim President Chris Kabourek
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor Dr. Rodney D. Bennett
  • Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen
  • U.S. Rep. Congressman Don Bacon
  • U.S. Rep. Congressman Mike Flood
  • U.S. Rep. Senator Pete Ricketts
  • U.S. Rep. Senator Deb Fischer
  • USDA-ARS Administrator Dr. Simon Liu

(HDR image)

Federal, state and university leaders launched construction of the USDA's National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture with a May 6 groundbreaking at Nebraska Innovation Campus. Pictured (from left) is Chris Kabourek, interim president of the University of Nebraska; Rodney D. Bennett, chancellor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts; U.S. Representative Mike Flood; Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen; Chavonda Jacobs-Young, under secretary for research, education and economics and chief scientist for the USDA; U.S. Senator Deb Fischer; Paul Kenney, University of Nebraska regent; U.S. Representative Don Bacon; Jack Stark, University of Nebraska regent; Simon Liu, USDA-ARS administrator; and Mike Boehem, vice chancellor for UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. (Photo by Craig Chandler, UNL University Communication and Marketing)