Agronomy and Crop ScienceAgronomy and Crop Science
Now here’s a down-to-Earth major: studying what the good Earth produces, and what we do with it to survive. A major in agronomy and crop science will take you all over the map of crop production, soil management, and food-producing plants. The focus of agronomy, historically and presently, has been on growing crops and providing safe, edible chow for the people of Planet Earth—from a shiny red apple to a spongy yellow Twinkie. To that end, crop science is the study of the fairly complicated processes plants go through to become food for humans, feed for animals, and other important products (like shampoo and pajamas). Crop science involves the application of biological, chemical, and physical science principles to the cultivation of these plants. The use of biotechnology and agricultural engineering in the agriculture industry is becoming increasingly important as nations’ economies come to increasingly depend on one another and the prospect of genetically engineered foods becomes more acceptable. What does all this mean for you and your major in agronomy and crop science? Well, in addition to tastier, juicier strawberries, you can expect to see more math-, physics-, and engineering-related course matter. As an agronomy and crop science major, you’ll be immersed in biotechnology, cell biology, plant physiology, genetics, turfgrass science, crop quality, chemistry, computer science, animal sciences, botany, agricultural economics, entomology (that’s the study of bugs), plant pathology, and the conservation and improvement of natural resources. Get set to investigate the growth and behavior of crops, the development of new plant varieties, and the soils and nutrients that serve them best. You’ll also learn about the production of quality seed, different soil environments, and control of weeds, insects/pests, and plant diseases. By the time you graduate, you should have a solid understanding of the interrelationships among the physical and biological factors inherent to crop production. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to craft cutting-edge solutions to all manner of modern-day agricultural problems. This major offers a wide variety of career paths—agronomy and crop science majors are highly sought after in today’s economy. Another plus is that agronomists and crop scientists are able to spend a great deal of time outdoors and in cool laboratories (i.e., not behind desks).
You don’t need to know anything about agronomy and crop science to major in it, but having an enduring love of biology and the physical sciences will help you immensely. Take all the biology and chemistry courses that your high school offers—as well as any available agriculture courses. Learn everything you can learn about climate, soil, water, and plants both in and out of the classroom. And get used to working outdoors and in laboratories. Familiarity with computers helps. Seek out volunteer opportunities that might offer hands-on experience in the field.