Do you love working outdoors in the natural environment? If yes, then a career as an agronomist could be for you. Agronomists are also known as crop nutritionists and professional crop advisers. They are often seen as the vital link between the farmer and their crops. It's an exciting, diverse and important job role that provides you with a stable career. Below we explore exactly what an agronomy job entails, the various specialist routes within this field, the working environment, the qualities that are needed for this type of work and the various career routes that are available for agronomists.
What exactly is an agronomist?
As an agronomist, you will be the vital link between the farmer and the crops that they produce. You will use the knowledge that you have gained, together with carrying out additional research to find solutions for the best way to grow, nurture and produce crops. All findings and solutions are offered to the farmer you are working with, for them to seek a solution to their crop problem or to simply provide more sustainable crops.
As an agronomist, much of your time will be spent problem-solving, observing crops for any diseases, issues with weeds, insects or soil drainage. Taking on board this information, the agronomist will then refer to reverberated research papers and other works of study to solve any problems. This is why many in the industry refer to agronomists as crop doctors.
The different kinds of agronomy jobs
When you choose to work as an agronomist then you will find that you can branch off into a wide range of disciplines. Below we explore some of these specialist areas.
Research based jobs
As already mentioned, research does form part of the agronomist's job role, but you can specialise further and work solely in research. This will involve researching issues such as conservation, crop productivity and genetic crop production. This will usually involve work both out in the field and in the lab. To do this kind of work you will need a post-graduate degree.
This is when the agronomist works only with field crops. This work is all about advising and assisting the farmer with the planting of any crops and then harvesting the goods. It's all about forming an efficient farming practice and getting value for money and time. In some cases, the agronomist can assist in areas such as golf courses. This type of role involved a lot of time spent working outdoors.
Go down the sustainable development route
This is when the agronomist works with any type of agricultural program or project, such as new farms or those situated in developing countries. The agronomist will help the farm to be more financially and environmentally stable, now and in the years to come.
This is a role that involves additional skills such as a scientific or engineering background. This job is primarily about water quality and conservation, soil quality and preventing soil erosion while managing the soil in fields and farms. In most cases, the agronomist will spend time in the office and in the fields.
What qualities should you have to be an agronomist?
Working in the agronomy field requires many different abilities and attributes, as it is such a varied role.
It's important that you have a good eye and pay attention to the fine details. You will also need to be able to think critically and be able to analyse and solve problems. This means that you need to be able to take on any challenges and provide a working solution. Coupled with this is the need to provide detailed, concise and articulate written work on your findings.
It's also important that you are a good team player with excellent communication skills. In essence, you need to work with others and be able to get your ideas and point of view across to them.
It's also important that you don't expect to work a regular working week as this type of work is incredibly flexible. If you love every day to be different and full of challenges, then you'll most certainly enjoy your work as an agronomist.
It's also worth mentioning here that you need to be a good organiser, as you'll be in charge of managing resources and possibly a budget. You'll need excellent record keeping skills and be able to plan ahead the type of work that needs to be carried out.
What are the workplace conditions like for an agronomist?
Your place of work very much depends upon the route you wish to take. During the summer and spring months, much of your time will be spent working in the field, observing crops and plants, and liaising with farmers. This time of year is always mainly spent outdoors. Less time is spent in the field during winter and autumn, as this is the time when many agronomists spend working on any research findings and analytical data, although there may still be the need to venture outdoors and to keep farmers up to date with any findings and ideas. So, your time will be spent in the field, in an office environment, and if research-based, you'll be in the lab.
Career routes into agronomy
So, how do you go about becoming an agronomist? Well, the good news is that there are several openings into this career and all are at different entry levels.
In most cases, you need to study for a graduate degree. The most relevant subjects include biology, agriculture, ecology and soil science. Another option is to attend college and study for a level 3 diploma in agriculture. There is also the option of studying for a BASIS Foundation course in agronomy. This is suitable for those just starting out and with limited experience and knowledge.
If you are wanting to find agricultural agronomy jobs, no matter what level you are starting from, then we can help. Please do browse our online job directory for agronomist jobs today.
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
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