The lifelong Dickey County farmer has always had a passion for science and research that advances production agriculture. For 50 years, he leased out 20 acres of his farmland just south of Oakes, North Dakota, so that the North Dakota State University Extension Service could conduct research involving crop irrigation systems.
"I love research and this was a way to support it," Titus said. "We've got to keep improving and you do that through research."
Now retired, Titus said he found a great way to ensure that his support for agriculture research would continue, and at the same time, he could gain significant tax benefits.
Titus and his wife, Elsie, chose to deed about 35 acres that encompass the research site to the NDSU Foundation as part of a reserved interest life estate. Under the agreement, the Titus's retain 100 percent of the "life" interest in the property. Throughout their lives, the Titus's will continue to earn lease income on the land they provided for NDSU research, and in exchange for making the gift during their lifetime, they received a significant tax deduction.
In recognition of Titus' generous support of North Dakota agriculture, the research site has been named in his honor. About four miles south of Oakes, along State Highway 1, is a large sign marking the entry to the "Oakes Irrigation Research Site-Robert Titus Research Farm."
"It's quite an honor to have my name on there, that's for sure," Titus said. "The research here is something I've been interested in my whole life, and it's good to know that it's going to continue."
Because of the Titus's generous gift, NDSU researchers will be able to provide meaningful production data to farmers for many years to come. The Robert Titus Research Farm has become an important station for a variety of NDSU field trials involving corn, dry beans, soybeans, potatoes, small grains, sunflowers and other crops.