Efficiently bringing wholesome food from the sower’s seed to the table requires more than just physical effort which is why aspiring farmers often enroll in Plant Soil & Insect Sciences degree programs. These types of programs are usually administered through university agronomy departments. The concepts that are taught within these programs include water conservation techniques, the benefits of crop rotation, responses of crops to environmental conditions and establishing sustainable crop systems. The topics covered in these types of academic programs often go beyond the cultivation of food crops, and some classes expose students to methods of growing ornamental crops and turf grass for landscape designs. Here are some unconventional career paths for graduates with agronomy-related degrees.
Organic Farm Certification Consultant
The demand for organic produce has far exceeded supply in many cases. There are just not enough farms that meet the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture’s strict standards for organic farming to supply all of the nation’s grocers with the specialty produce. Conventional farmers recognize the economic and environmental rewards of organic farming, and some of them want to convert their operations to accommodate organic product development. Many organic growing techniques and best practices are taught in Plant Soil & Insect Sciences degree programs, and there are opportunities for graduates of these programs to coach farmers about organic crop production. Jobs in this career path are also available within national and state agriculture departments.
Biotechnology Product Analyst
Agronomy degree programs prepare students to view plant-based resources as more than just meals for humans and livestock. Crops such as flax, hemp and cotton have been used to create fabrics since ancient times. Also, manufacturers produce a variety of household goods from the fibers and by-products of coconuts, bamboo and rubber trees. Today’s agronomy graduates conduct research that allows textile manufacturers to continue to innovate and find safer, more sustainable sources of raw materials for their goods.
Environmental Restoration Manager
Heavy Environmental Protection Agency regulations that were enacted years ago caused many U.S. manufacturers that had the worst track records for pollution to move their operations overseas. However, the sites of former manufacturing plants often remain toxic long after the sources of pollution have been removed. Since agronomy graduates have the knowledge and skills that are needed to heal damaged ecosystems, they often work with urban planners and other city officials to create community-enhancing green spaces to replace industrial wastelands.
Biofuel Research Analyst
A growing trend in the alternative energy sector is the use of agricultural crops to produce fuel to power the nation’s transportation and logistics operations. The most common types of biofuel crops are corn, soy, wheat and sugar cane. These crops are popular for energy production because they burn cleaner than other fuel sources, lessen society’s dependence on fossil fuels and are renewable resources. Opponents of biofuel argue that energy crops use land and water resources that could be used to grow food crops for the world’s growing population. A popular compromise comes in the form of recycling efforts that convert used vegetable-based cooking oil into fuel.
Earning an agronomy degree is often the ideal academic choice for those who are environmentally responsible, enjoy eating healthfully or just like spending a portion of their work days outdoors. The career paths for graduates with Plant Soil & Insect Sciences degrees are ever expanding as more uses for plant-based resources continue to be found.