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New Plant Facility Takes Root

Group shot throwing dirt during Plant Improvement Facility groundbreaking.
Special guests at the Sept. 6 groundbreaking, from left, were U.S. Rep. Wiley Nickel, USDA Farm Services Agency State Executive Director Bob Etheridge, U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, NC State CALS Dean Garey Fox, USDA ARS Southeast Area Director Archie Tucker, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary Chavonda Jacobs-Young, NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson, USDA ARS Administrator Simon Liu, USDA ARS Plant Physiologist Kent Burkey and USDA ARS Location Coordinator Muquarrab Qureshi. Photos by Becky Kirkland.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently celebrated the groundbreaking of a new plant improvement facility at North Carolina State University’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory. 

The state-of-the-art building will house approximately 30-40 scientists from NC State and ARS who will conduct research on maize, soybean, wheat, cotton and peanuts. When completed, the 51,296 square-foot, single-story structure will feature processing areas as well as office and research spaces organized in wings corresponding to their respective crops.

Four people, including Fox, Fisher and Woodson

CALS Dean Garey Fox called the groundbreaking, which took place on Sept. 6, a “great day,” noting that it means the university is “one step closer to having a plant improvement facility become a reality.”

The new facility will be critical in addressing challenges impacting agriculture.

“When we get this completed, these facilities are going to be a prize asset for agricultural science and critical to the long-term success of plant science research,” said Fox.

NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson added, “The impact of agriculture and agribusiness in North Carolina exceeds $100 billion. We’re excited to partner with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service on this facility and its solutions-driven approach for crops that are important economic drivers of the state’s economy.”

Construction of the plant improvement facility is projected to be completed by the end of 2026.