Career Spotlight: Agronomy

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If you were that little kid who never shied away from making mud pies, playing in the dirt, maybe even gardening alongside your mom or dad—or, of course, you just have a solid appreciation for science!—then agronomy might be a good choice for your career!

Agronomy is the study of soils and crop production. As a specialty within the broader area of agriculture, it focuses on the experimental and research analysis of crop plants, the factors that affect yield, plant and crop diseases, and varieties of crops and their cultivation in relation to climate variation and soil quality. In addition, agronomy is concerned with the improvement of special-purpose plants such as turf grasses for home lawns. It can also be concerned with the ethical, cultural, and environmental challenges facing agricultural professions.

The plan of study emphasizes the agricultural sciences such as plant physiology, horticulture, and ecology. Course work also includes basic sciences such as chemistry, biology, and botany. Field work with professors and the conducting of experiments on soil samples or related activities are significant features of the undergraduate program.

Expect to take classes like biology, botany, general chemistry, calculus with differential equations, organic chemistry, plant anatomy, plant nutrition, biochemistry, soil conservation, silviculture. Some related college majors include agriculture business/economics, animal sciences, biochemistry, biology, botany, ecology, environmental engineering, forestry, geography, and soils/water management. A strong science preparation in high school is recommended; you should try to take advanced science through biology and chemistry, advanced mathematics, and computer studies.

Possible careers

  • agronomist
  • agricultural business manager
  • biochemist
  • biologist
  • college professor
  • food and drug inspector
  • government or private research scientist
  • laboratory technician
  • management trainee
  • military officer
  • natural resource manager
  • quality control technician
  • range management specialist
  • soil conservationist
  • technical writer

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