Working As An Agronimist or In Broadacre Farming

Agronomy is the growing of broad-acre crops in a monoculture environment: vegetables such as peas or beans, oil crops (e.g. sunflower, mint), seed (e.g.  lawn grass, pasture grass), grains (wheat or other cereals) or fibre crops (e.g. cotton, hemp).

Where They Work

Agronomy employs people both on and off farms and includes people with relatively little formal training working in semi-skilled or manual labour jobs, through to highly skilled university, or similarly educated professionals. Those less skilled usually work on farms as labourers, those with degrees usually work as advisors to farmers. To be successful as an agronomist or to work in agronomy generally, you do need to be prepared to go where the work is and that is generally in rural areas. You should be prepared to relocate or change jobs if the industry changes. For example, during periods of prolonged drought agronomic employment may decrease, but opportunities may increase in other countries at the same time. Crops are always needed, but where they are grown can shift from year to year.

What They Do

Agronomic farmers grow crops usually on large acreages using machinery for cultivation, weed and pest control and harvesting the crop. Sometimes, high value agronomic crops may be grown on smaller acreages.
  • Workers on agronomic farms carry out a range of general crop farming duties from ploughing fields to crop sowing, through to irrigation, fencing, pest and disease management and pasture management for those farms that also run animals.
  • Agronomists are professionals in the field who travel from farm to farm as consultant advisors to agronomic farmers on farming techniques: soil improvements, irrigation management,  what crops to grow when and how.

What is Needed

Labourers on farms often only need to will to work. To do better in this field though a course of study in a range of farming practices is highly valued by most agronomic employers. Soil management, understanding agronomic crops, irrigation systems etc. is all usefil knowledge.

To work as an agronomist you will need a degree or similar course of study (they study soils, weather patterns, crops, crop rotations, irrigation systems and management etc.)

Opportunities

New approaches to the 'monoculture' issue are always emerging - along with other developments in farming techniques such as robotics. The modern agronomist needs to be well connected with their industry, technically skilled and always informed about the latest industry trends. This is a technical career, far from the agronomy of the past which involved walking behind a plough and harvesting with a scythe.

Agronomy is a huge part of global agriculture, and the sheer size of this industry means that many people are employed to farm these crops, but also to develop and supply the seed, fertilisers, machinery and chemicals needed to produce the crops.

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