BEAVER CROSSING, Neb. (AP) — Bayer CropScience hopes its new $17 million research station in Seward County will create wheat and soybean varieties more resistant to disease and drought.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday for the 53,000-square-foot facility situated on 400 acres of farmland between Goehner and Beaver Crossing, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Fourteen employees currently work full-time at the station, said Edward Souza, Bayer CropScience director of global wheat breeding. Officials expect as many as 25 people to work full-time, plus interns and seasonal employees for harvest and planting.
Being near the University of Nebraska is one of the reasons Bayer said it decided to build its facility in Nebraska. It has been a strong supporter of plant-breeding research at the college by donating money for wheat and soybean research.
Partnerships with private industry have allowed the school’s agriculture research to grow while public dollars to support it have shrunk, said Ronnie Green, the university’s vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke at the opening and thanked Bayer CropScience for investing in the state and its support for the university.
Ricketts noted that Nebraska is the eighth largest wheat producing state, with around 1.5 million acres harvested in 2014, producing about 71 million bushels. It is the fifth largest soybean state with 5.4 million acres planted, producing around 289 million bushels in 2014.
“Agriculture is the largest industry we have here in this state, employing about 25 percent of Nebraskans,” Ricketts said. “If we’re going to grow Nebraska, we’re going to have to grow agriculture.”