About Agronomy

Every day, everyone is affected by agronomy. The food you eat, the coffee you drink, the ethanol-based gas in your car, the grass on the golf course, the natural fibers of the clothing you wear—all are products of agronomy and the work of agronomists.

What is agronomy?
Patchwork of farm fieldsAgronomy looks at agriculture from an integrated, holistic perspective. Photo courtesy of USDA-ARS.

Agronomy is a science and a practice that looks at agriculture from an integrated, holistic perspective. In agronomy, it’s important to understand the properties of the soil and how the soil interacts with the growing crop; what nutrients (fertilizers) the crop needs and when and how to apply these nutrients; the ways that crops grow and develop; how climate and other environmental factors affect the crop at all stages; and how best to control weeds, insects, fungi, and other crop pests.

If that weren't enough, another huge consideration in agronomy is how to grow crops effectively and profitably while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.

In short, growing crops requires collaborations among many, many fields, including the traditional soil, plant, and weed sciences, as well as related disciplines such as ecology, entomology, climatology, and economics. The best crop production methods are always grounded in scientific research. As a result, they are by nature continually evolving and improving.

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What is an agronomist?

Agronomists are plant and soil scientists who develop innovative farm practices and technologies that not only boost crop yields but also control pests and weeds and protect the environment. Agronomists are also professional practitioners, educators, and advisers who work directly with farmers, companies, and others in the ag community to implement the latest methods and tools for growing crops profitably and sustainably.

Group of rice farmers in IndiaAgronomists play critical roles in issues of global concern, such as food security. Photo of Indian rice farmers courtesy of MB Patil.

But the reach of agronomists and agronomy doesn’t end on the farm. Agronomists also play critical roles in issues of global concern, including food and water security, air quality and climate change, soil loss and degradation, health and nutrition, and many others.

Interested in a career in agronomy?

Visit our Careers site and view a list of colleges and universities with courses and programs in agronomy, crop science and soil science.

Students and teachers - learn more about agronomy by checking out Agronomy For Me--just for you!

Check out our National Ag Day T-Shirts!