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Soil Science and Agronomy

The Breakdown

If you are concerned with the relationship between food production and the environment, a major in soil science and agronomy may be up your alley. This major is inherently interdisciplinary, combining the study of agricultural sciences, plant sciences and environmental sciences among others. Soil science programs typically focus on the scientific classification of soils, soil properties and their relationship to agricultural crops. As a soil science major, you’ll study soil chemistry, soil physics, soil biology, soil fertility, morphogenesis, mineralogy, hydrology, agronomy, and soil conservation and management.

Nuts and Bolts

The soil science curriculum will typically draw from the areas of crop science, environmental science and agriculture. Some courses titles may include:

•    Microbes, the Earth and Everything
•    Soil Morphology
•    Soil Genesis, Classification and Survey
•    Nutrient Management in Agriculture
•    Environmental Chemistry
•    Weed Biology
•    Field Crop Systems
•    Environmental Microbiology
•    Ecological Issues in Global Change

Decisions, Decisions

If you are considering majoring in soil science, you may also want to consider studying plant sciences, turfgrass management, agriculture, environmental science, environmental studies, sustainability studies, natural resources management/conservation, forestry management, and water, wetland and marine resource management.

What's Next

Career opportunities are growing in this field, in both the private and public sector. While many new graduates continue their studies at the graduate level and eventually enter research positions, others enter business as farmers or consultants. Typical career titles include: Agriculture Finance Advisor, Agronomist, Commodities Consultant, Soil Scientist, Environmental Consultant, Farmer, Pest Management Specialist, and Land Use Planner. Employers include local government agencies, state/federal departments of agriculture, not-for-profit organizations and banks. Some graduates may also choose to earn a law degree and pursue a career in environmental law/policy. A few adventurous souls may even apply for the Peace Corps.


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Don Munce