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Agronomy and Crop Science - Overview


Programs in agronomy and crop science teach people the science of raising crops. Students learn how plants and soils interact. They also learn about plant growth and behavior. In addition, they learn how to prepare and maintain soils to cultivate healthy plants.

When you think of popcorn, you probably think of the name Orville Redenbacher. Wearing his gentleman's bow tie and suspenders, he appeared on our TV screens, talking about fat kernels exploding into fluffy white and buttery popcorn – yum! The Orville Redenbacher brand of popcorn is still one of the most popular popcorns on the market today. Yet, did you know that Orville Redenbacher was actually an agronomist? Agronomy means applying various soil and plant sciences to managing soils and raising crops. In the case of Orville, he and another agronomist studied different corn breeds in order to create the perfect popcorn. Together, they developed a hybrid popcorn they believed made a tastier product. Luckily for us, they were right!

In agronomy programs, you take courses in many areas of science. This includes biology, chemistry, and horticulture. You also take courses in plant pathology and entomology. You learn how the chemistry of soils and pesticides affect plants. You also learn how to manage water and other natural resources in different climates. Overall, you learn how to maximize crop production through precise scientific techniques.

Over 140 schools offer programs in agronomy and crop science. Also, keep in mind that every state has a land grant college that offers agricultural science programs. Many other colleges and universities also offer bachelor's degrees in agronomy. In many cases, you major in agriculture with a concentration in agronomy. In addition, several community colleges offer two-year agriculture programs that can be transferred to a four-year school.

Many schools offer graduate degree programs in agronomy. These programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people with graduate degrees in agronomy become professors and researchers.

Most people assume that with a degree in agronomy, you become a farmer. While many pursue this route, you can also work as a researcher for a large agribusiness or even the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, you can work as an educator for an extension service or work in agricultural marketing or economics.

Students who major in agronomy and crop science may choose concentrations in plants, field crops, weed or soil science, and environmental or conservation science.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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