Soil & Plant Scientists
Also called: Agronomist, Crop Nutrition Scientist, Research Soil Scientist, Soil Scientist
Produced by CareerOneStop
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With a growing world population, the task of feeding everyone on the planet is getting bigger every day. Key to maintaining the nation’s food supply— agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve agricultural production and food products, while keeping conditions healthy and sustainable on farms, production facilities, and in the soil. Animal scientists research ways to improve the quality and productivity of farm animals for food production, through lowering animal death rates, increasing growth rates, and upgrading their environments. Food scientists and technologists study the basic elements of food. They analyze nutritional content, discover food sources, and develop ways to make processed foods safe and nutritious. Many create new food products, and research ideas to preserve and package food. Soil scientists examine the composition of soil, how it affects plant or crop growth, and how different soil treatments affect crop productivity. Plant scientists develop improvements to crop yields and ways to enhance plant production, including controlling weeds and pests. Agricultural and food scientists work in colleges and universities, food production companies, and in scientific research and development. They divide their time between laboratories, offices, and—when needed— visits to farms and processing plants. Work hours are typically full time, with standard hours. Agricultural and food scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in their field, or a related science or engineering major. Many pursue graduate degrees.
What they do:Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.
On the job, you would:
- Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
- Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
- Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
Math and Science
- arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Arts and Humanities
- English language
Education and Training
- teaching and course design
Engineering and Technology
- computers and electronics
- reading work related information
- using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems
- noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
- thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
- figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
- listen and understand what people say
- read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
- group things in different ways
- make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
- choose the right type of math to solve a problem
- add, subtract, multiply, or divide
- see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
- Attention to Detail
- Analytical Thinking
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
- Water Erosion Prediction Project WEPP
Data base user interface and query software
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- Electronics Engineers
- Environmental Scientists & Specialists, Including Health
- Photonics Engineers
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