Members of SDARL Class XI traveled throughout eastern South Dakota to learn the vast impact of agriculture in South Dakota during the First Dakota National Bank Seminar on Agriculture, Finance, and Economic Development. The 3-day seminar demonstrated how innovation and agriculture are the economic engines that drive SD.
Class members learned how conservation practices contribute to the long-term growth and stability of SD agricultural producers. Demonstrations of NRCS rainfall simulator and wind erosion model followed by discussion of NRCS programs and services brought home great points on the value of cover crops thanks to Tanse Herrmann (SDARL X), State Grazinglands Soil Health Specialist – South Dakota, USDA NRCS, and Colette Kessler (SDARL XI), Assistant State Conservationist.
Several parts of this tour allowed class members to explore the importance of the land grant institution,
and the purposes of the variety of agricultural enterprises located there. In Brookings, there was a tour of
the South Dakota State University Cow-Calf Unit as well as the Swine Unit. In Beresford a tour of the
SDSU Southeast Research Farm showed the innovative live research being conducted. Finally, a tour of
the CyberLabs or MadLabs of Dakota State University learning how this technology could be used to impact agriculture in South Dakota.
The class explored cooperative involvement in ag with tours of the South Dakota Soybean Processors in Volga and East River Electric in Madison. Tom Kersting, Executive Director of the SD Soybean Processors joined SDARL Class VII alum Ty Eschenbaum of A1Development for a briefing about the new soybean processing plant being built in Mitchell. Jennifer Gross, Education and Outreach Coordinator for East River Electric shared how their utility service enables economic development initiatives within the co-op system.
A couple of powerful entrepreneurial lessons and their impact on South Dakota agriculture were also included in the seminar. The first one was a tour of Legend Seeds. Glen Davis, SDARL Class IV alum, and his wife, Janet, started a seed company in 1990 to provide local farmers with better products and ultimately more profit. Today Legend Seeds is an employee-owned independent regional seed leader with a presence in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The second lesson also involved collaboration and local economic development with Chad Nelsen (Class IX) alum sharing how he and his neighbors gathered together to recruit a dairy to come to their area in Viborg.
During the seminar, class members finally learned the destination for their International Study Seminar
in February of 2023. They were excited to learn they will head to Europe and learn about agriculture in
Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The class can take what they’ve learned about the impact of agriculture on SD and compare and learn the impact of agriculture in those countries.