Career Development

What Does an Agronomist Do?

Find out what an agronomist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an agronomist.

Agronomists are scientists who study the production of food, fiber and other commodities. They may focus on one or more specific areas, such as soil science, plant genetics, pest management, crop rotation, irrigation systems, etc.

Agronomists work with farmers to help them grow crops in a way that is sustainable and profitable. They may also provide advice on how to improve farming practices and techniques.

Agronomist Job Duties

Agronomists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting chemical analyses of soil samples to determine nutrient levels or pH levels
  • Developing chemical applications to control pests in crops
  • Creating proposals for new products based on their findings
  • Conducting research on topics such as crop rotation patterns, pesticide use, and new farming techniques
  • Conducting surveys of land to determine its suitability for agricultural use
  • Designing irrigation systems for farms based on soil composition and climate conditions
  • Conducting experiments on crop growth rates to determine optimal planting times
  • Providing information to farmers about current agricultural practices and trends
  • Monitoring insect populations and developing strategies to mitigate their damage to crops

Agronomist Salary & Outlook

Agronomists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company they work for. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $82,500 ($39.66/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $142,000 ($68.27/hour)

The employment of agronomists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Agronomists will be needed to help farmers and ranchers increase crop and livestock production as the world population grows and people become more affluent and consume more food. In addition, climate change may require agronomists to develop new ways to increase crop yields.

Agronomist Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as an agronomist. They include:

Education: Most agronomists need a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, agriculture science or a related field. Some universities offer bachelor’s degrees in agriculture with a concentration in agronomy.

Many agronomists choose to pursue a master’s degree in agriculture or agriculture science. These programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework in agriculture, agriculture science and business.

Training & Experience: Most agronomists will receive on-the-job training in their first year of employment. This training will help the agronomist learn the specific practices and procedures of the company. It will also help the agronomist learn the specific software and computer programs the company uses.

Certifications & Licenses: Agronomists must earn a license to work in their field. To earn a license, they must pass all sections of the CPA exam and have a minimum of five years of experience. The exam includes questions on applied engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Agronomist Skills

Agronomists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the ability to use and understand complex equipment, software and machinery. Agronomists use technical skills to operate and maintain machinery, conduct soil analysis and analyze data. They also use technical skills to operate and maintain various types of equipment, including tractors, sprayers and irrigation systems.

Communication skills: Agronomists use communication skills to convey information to others, including farmers, scientists and other agronomists. They also use communication skills to explain scientific concepts to the public. Effective communication skills can help agronomists convey their ideas clearly and concisely.

Problem-solving skills: Agronomists use their problem-solving skills to find solutions to issues that affect crop production. They may use their problem-solving skills to find ways to increase crop yields, reduce the need for pesticides or find ways to improve soil quality.

Leadership skills: Agronomists often work in teams with other professionals, such as soil scientists, plant pathologists and engineers. Leadership skills can help you to manage and motivate a team to complete a project or task. Leadership skills can also help you to mentor and train new agronomists.

Teamwork skills: Agronomists often work in teams to solve problems and develop solutions. They may work with other agronomists, engineers, farmers and other professionals to develop new methods and products. Working well with others is an important skill for agronomists to have.

Agronomist Work Environment

Agronomists work in a variety of settings, including farms, greenhouses, nurseries, and research laboratories. They may also work in offices, where they spend time writing reports, analyzing data, and preparing proposals. Some agronomists travel to other countries to study foreign agricultural systems and to consult with other agronomists. Many agronomists work more than 40 hours per week, and some may work on weekends and holidays. The work can be physically demanding, and agronomists may be exposed to hazardous materials, such as pesticides and herbicides. They may also be exposed to extreme weather conditions, such as heat, cold, and dust.

Agronomist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how agronomists work. Agronomists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Ag Industry

The ag industry is facing a major diversity problem. According to the USDA, only 6% of farmers are women, and only 2% are African American. This lack of diversity is having a negative impact on the industry as a whole, as it prevents companies from seeing the full range of potential solutions to their problems.

Agronomists can help to address this issue by becoming more involved in the hiring process for farms and businesses. They can also work to create programs that encourage diversity in the ag industry.

More Focus on Sustainability

As sustainability becomes more important, agronomists will need to focus on developing methods for producing food that is both sustainable and profitable.

This trend means that agronomists will need to be well-versed in a variety of farming techniques, such as organic farming, permaculture, and aquaponics. In addition, they will need to be able to communicate with customers about the benefits of these methods and how they can be implemented on a larger scale.

A Greater Emphasis on Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important part of agriculture as farmers become more interested in using data to make decisions about what crops to plant, where to plant them, and how to manage them once they are planted.

Agronomists who are able to use data analytics to make better decisions about farming will be in high demand, as farmers will want to hire professionals who can help them get the most out of their crops.

How to Become an Agronomist

An agronomist career path can be tailored to meet your specific interests and goals. If you’re interested in working with plants, but don’t want to be a botanist or horticulturist, an agronomy career may be the perfect fit for you. As an agronomist, you could work in research, teaching, consulting, or industry.

No matter which area of agronomy you choose, it’s important to have a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, and math. You should also be familiar with computer programming and data analysis techniques. Additionally, it’s helpful to have experience in fieldwork and laboratory work.

Related: How to Write an Agronomist Resume

Advancement Prospects

Agronomists typically need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. However, some research positions may require a master’s degree or doctorate. Agronomists who wish to teach at the college level or conduct research must have a doctorate.

Most agronomists work in private industry, government, or educational institutions. Agronomists in private industry usually work for companies that sell agricultural products or services, such as seed companies, chemical companies, and fertilizer companies. They may also work for consulting firms that advise farmers on how to use these products. Agronomists in government work for local, state, or federal agencies. They may help develop and implement policies to protect the environment or to ensure the safety of food products. Agronomists in educational institutions conduct research or teach courses in agronomy, crop science, and soil science.

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