What Does an Agronomist Do? - Career Information & Salary
Agronomists study how to best increase crop yields and work to protect our environment at the same time. Read further to learn more about this career which has huge importance in the face of climate change.
Agronomists study crop and soil science. They look at agriculture from a holistic perspective and work to improve crop yields. The chart below shows the education requirements, job duties, and salary of agronomists.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Key Responsibilities||Determine what nutrients are needed by a crop, determine when and where fertilizer should be added|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||7% (all agricultural and food scientists)*|
|Median Salary (2019)||$51,410**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **Payscale.com
What Are the Job Duties of an Agronomist?
Agronomists are responsible for studying and maintaining the soil and crops of the company or organization they work for. This means agronomists could be in charge of increasing corn or soybean yields or be responsible for maintaining the grass on a golf course. To do this, agronomists must evaluate soil quality, determine environmental conditions that impact the soil and crops, identify which nutrients are needed, determine when and where fertilizers should be applied, decide the best method for seeding, and manage pest control.
What Are the Educational Requirements of an Agronomist?
Agronomists are required to have at least bachelor's degree. Some jobs may require that applicants have an advanced degree. One's degree should be in agronomy or an agronomy-related field, such as crop science, soil science, or other agricultural areas.
What Certifications Are Available to Agronomists?
Agronomists are certified through the American Society of Agronomy. They offer several certifications: Certified Crop Adviser (CCA), Precision Agriculture Specialty (PASp) Certification, Resistance Management Specialty (RMS) Certification, Sustainability Specialty (SSp) Certification, 4R Nutrient Management Specialty (4R NMS) Certification, Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg), and Certified Professional Soil Scientist/Classifier (CPSS and CPSC). Most of these certifications require that one first be a CCA in good standing before attempting to earn a more specialized certification.
Do Agronomists Work With Livestock?
As agronomists tend to focus on soil and crop health most agronomists do not work with livestock directly. However, some agronomists work with feed crops which are used to meet the nutritional requirements of livestock. Additionally, other agronomists study the integration of crops and livestock to increase yields and make farms more profitable.
Can Agronomists Help Agriculture Be More Sustainable?
Yes! Agronomists have been responsible for recent discoveries that help farms become more sustainable and protect the environment. These discoveries include the benefits of cover crops, crops grown in alternating seasons to improve the soil and increase biodiversity. Agronomists have also been integral to the development of no-till and low-till farming. No-till and low-till farming help prevent soil erosion and increase the amount of carbon that is held in the soil. In this way, agronomists help contribute to carbon sequestration.