Agronomist

Agronomist

Description

Agronomists provide consulting services to companies, agricultural cooperatives, agronomical crop growers and horticultural crop growers on the cultivation of food crops. They study the science, technology and business related to growing plants. They examine crops and perform experiments in order to improve crop yields and farms’ production. Agronomists also examine the most effective ways to harvest and cultivate plants.

Duties

Agronomists typically perform the following tasks:

  • Conduct soil tests to assess fertility, nutrient levels, and physical properties, providing recommendations for soil improvement.
  • Develop and implement plans for crop cultivation, considering factors such as climate, soil conditions, and market demand.
  • Advise farmers on effective crop rotation strategies to maintain soil health, prevent diseases, and enhance yields.
  • Collaborate with plant breeders to develop new crop varieties with improved yield, resistance to diseases, and adaptability to specific environments.
  • Monitor and control pests and diseases by recommending appropriate pesticides, integrated pest management (IPM), and disease-resistant crop varieties.
  • Design and recommend fertilization programs to ensure optimal nutrient levels for crop growth, taking into account environmental sustainability.
  • Implement water-efficient irrigation practices and recommend technologies for efficient water use in agriculture.
  • Utilize technology, such as GPS and sensors, to optimize farming practices, including variable rate fertilization and precision planting.
  • Conduct research to enhance agricultural practices, improve crop varieties, and address challenges facing the agricultural industry.
  • Evaluate and promote sustainable farming practices to minimize the environmental impact of agriculture.
  • Provide farmers with training and educational programs on modern agricultural practices, including workshops and demonstrations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to agronomist:

crop consultant
agronomy researcher
agronomy analyst
adviser for agricultural production
agronomists
agronomy science researcher
crop adviser
adviser for vegetable production
crop scientist
agronomy research analyst
agronomy consultant
organic farming advisor
plant growing adviser
crop research analyst
crop analyst
crop research scientist
crop production adviser
crop researcher
agronomy scientist
crop science researcher
agronomy research scientist
horticultural adviser
plant growing advisor
agronomy adviser

Working conditions

Agronomists work in various settings, including agricultural research institutions, government agencies, private companies, and farms. The role may involve fieldwork, laboratory research, and interactions with farmers and stakeholders. Agronomists may work irregular hours, especially during planting and harvesting seasons.

Minimum qualifications

To become an agronomist, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in agronomy, crop science, soil science, or a related field is typically required. Practical experience gained through internships, research projects, or fieldwork contributes to the development of agronomists. Continuing education and staying updated on advancements in agronomy are essential for success in this field. Many agronomists join professional organizations, participate in conferences, and engage in ongoing professional development to stay informed about the latest trends and technologies in agriculture.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Agronomist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Agronomist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to agronomist.

soil scientist
biochemist
biophysicist
analytical chemist
bioinformatics scientist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of agronomist.

  • Environmental legislation in agriculture and forestry: Awareness of environmental legislation, policies, principles relevant for agriculture and forestry. Awareness of the impact on the environment of local agricultural procedures and practices. This means adjusting the production to new environmental regulations and policies.
  • Consultation methods: Techniques used to facilitate clear and open communication and the provision of advice between individuals, communities, or the government, such as discussion groups or one-on-one interviews.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics studies topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and the formulation of new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
  • Crop production principles: Principles in growing crops, the natural cycle, nursing of nature, growth conditions and principles of organic and sustainable production. Quality criteria and requirements of seeds, plants and crop.
  • Pesticides: Types of chemical characteristics of pesticides and their adverse human and environmental effects.
  • European pesticide legislation: The EU framework for community action which promotes the sustainable use of pesticides.
  • Environmental legislation: The environmental policies and legislation applicable in a certain domain.
  • Irrigation systems: The methods and systems management in irrigation.
  • Budgetary principles: Principles of estimating and planning of forecasts for business activity, compile regular budget and reports.
  • Laboratory techniques: Techniques applied in the different fields of natural science in order to obtain experimental data such as gravimetric analysis, gas chromatography, electronic or thermic methods.
  • Biology: Tissues, cells, and functions of plant and animal organisms and their interdependencies and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Pest control in plants: Types and features of pests in plants and crops. Different kinds of pest control methods, activities using conventional or biological methods taking into account the type of plant or crop, environmental and climate conditions and health and safety regulations. Storage and handling of products.
  • Agronomy: The study of combining agriculture production and protection and regeneration of natural environment. Includes the principles and methods of critical selection and adequate application methods for sustainability in agriculture.
  • Plant harvest methods: The various methods, timing and equipment involved in harvesting different crops and plants.
  • Livestock species: Livestock species and relevant genetics.
  • Horticulture principles: The standard horticultural practices, including but not limited to planting, pruning, corrective pruning, and fertilisation.
  • Plant propagation: Types of different propagation methods, materials and seeds and their criteria for health and quality.
  • Plant disease control: Types and features of diseases in plants and crops. Different kinds of control methods, activities using conventional or biological methods taking into account the type of plant or crop, environmental and climate conditions and health and safety regulations. Storage and handling of products.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of agronomist.

  • Perform laboratory tests: Carry out tests in a laboratory to produce reliable and precise data to support scientific research and product testing.
  • Manage nutrients: Collect and process samples of soil and plant tissue. Supervise the application of lime and fertilizers.
  • Execute analytical mathematical calculations: Apply mathematical methods and make use of calculation technologies in order to perform analyses and devise solutions to specific problems.
  • Maintain laboratory equipment: Clean laboratory glassware and other equipment after use and inspect it for damage or corrosion in order to ensure its proper functioning.
  • Supervise hygiene procedures in agricultural settings: Ensure that hygiene procedures in agricultural settings are followed, taking into account the regulations of specific areas of action, e.q. livestock, plants, local farm products, etc.
  • Apply horticultural standards and practices: Establishes and maintains high horticultural standards and practices; providing direction, training and motivation for the horticultural staff, interns and volunteers.
  • Apply safety procedures in laboratory: Make sure that laboratory equipment is used in a safe manner and the handling of samples and specimens is correct. Work to ensure the validity of results obtained in research.
  • Gather experimental data: Collect data resulting from applying scientific methods such as test methods, experimental design or measurements.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Consult with business clients: Communicate with clients of a business or business project in order to introduce new ideas, obtain feedback, and find solutions to problems.
  • Research improvement of crop yields: Study crop production in order to discover the best way to plant, gather, and cultivate crops to increase productivity.
  • Manage livestock: Manage production programmes, birth plans, sales, feed purchase orders, materials, equipment, housing, location and stock management. Manage the destruction of relevant animals in a humane manner and per national legislation. Follow business requirements and integration into qualitative research and knowledge transfer.
  • Use agricultural information systems and databases: Use relevant information systems and databases to plan, manage and operate agricultural enterprise and production.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of agronomist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Microbiology-bacteriology: Microbiology-Bacteriology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Quality criteria for storage facilities: Quality criteria for storage facilities such as safe locking systems, ventilation, regularly inspected fireproofing systems, etc.
  • Organic farming: Principles, techniques and regulations of organic farming. Organic farming or ecological agriculture is an agricultural production method, which places a strong emphasis on environmental protection and ecological balance.
  • Biological chemistry: Biological chemistry is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Agricultural equipment: The offered agricultural machinery and equipment products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Soil structure: Diversity of soil elements and types of soil in relation to plant growth.
  • Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
  • Types of storage facilities: Different types of devices and facilities used to hold information and their quality criteria.
  • Molecular biology: The interactions between the various systems of a cell, the interactions between the different types of genetic material and how these interactions are regulated.
  • Livestock feeding: Food given to domestic animals in the course of animal husbandry.
  • Ecology: The study of how organisms interact and their relation to the ambient environment.
  • Fertilisation principles: The study of plant, soil structure, climatic and environmental issues in agronomical production.
  • Genetic engineering: Manipulation of the genetic material of an organism using methods that insert new DNA into or remove heritable material from the genome.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of agronomist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Create solutions to problems: Solve problems that arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
  • Monitor crops: Monitor the growth of the crops to ensure the crops are free from diseases, harmful chemicals and organisms.
  • Maintain plants’ growth: Support growth, appearance and intended purpose of the plants.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Write research proposals: Synthetise and write proposals aiming to solve research problems. Draft the proposal baseline and objectives, the estimated budget, risks and impact. Document the advances and new developments on the relevant subject and field of study.
  • Use a computer: Utilise computer equipment or digital devices to facilitate quality control, data management, and communication. Follow instructions given by a computer programme, create computer files or documents.
  • Develop personal skills: Set goals for personal development and act accordingly. Plan personal development by analysing work experience and establishing areas that need development. Takes part in training sessions considering his/her abilities, possibilities and feedback.
  • Develop irrigation strategies: Plan the deployment of methods and procedures for watering the land artificially, considering sustainability strategies for water use.
  • Manage agricultural staff: Recruit and manage staff. This includes defining the job needs of the organisation, defining the criteria and process for recruitment. Develop the competences of the staff according current and future needs of the company and individuals. Ensure the health and safety of the staff, including implementing all relevant health and safety procedures and relations with regular follow-up procedures.
  • Advise on fertiliser and herbicide: Ability to advise on fertilisers and herbicides when and where needed.
  • Advise on soil and water protection: Advise on the effects of soil and water management practices in controlling pollutant loss, nitrate leaching and reduce soil erosion.
  • Keep task records: Organise and classify records of prepared reports and correspondence related to the performed work and progress records of tasks.
  • Supervise crop production: Supervise and analyse overall crop production in order to ensure effective production process, taking into account the environmental regulations.
  • Liaise with crop growers: Give advice to agronomical and horticultural crop growers regarding aspects such as the maintenance of crops and more technical information concerning business and product development issues.
  • Make decisions regarding plant propagation: Decide on issues regarding business management and further advice for cultivating crops and plants.
  • Collect samples for analysis: Collect samples of materials or products for laboratory analysis.
  • Prevent crop disorders: Advise on how to prevent and limit particular crop disorders with the appropriate methods. Select corrective treatments.
  • Use communication techniques: Apply techniques of communication that allow interlocutors to understand each other better and communicate accurately in transmitting messages.
  • Develop scientific theories: Formulate scientific theories based on empirical observations, gathered data and theories of other scientists.
  • Assess crop damage: Identify and evaluate damage to crops due to disorders, adverse physical soil conditions, unsuitable pH, nutrient imbalances and deficiencies, the misuse of crop protection materials, or extreme weather factors.
  • Supervise laboratory operations: Supervise the staff working in a laboratory, as well as oversee that equipment is functional and maintained, and procedures occur in compliance with regulations and legislation.
  • Write technical reports: Compose technical customer reports understandable for people without technical background.
  • Develop scientific research protocols: Develop and record the procedural method used for a specific scientific experiment in order to enable its replication.
  • Comply with agricultural code of practice: Adhere to a decree that talks about a series of rules and practices in business transactions between horticultural growers and sellers.
  • Create crop protection plans: Monitor crops for issues with crop protection. Design integrated control strategies. Assess the consequences of pesticide application. Keep up with developments in biotechnology to help reduce usage of chemicals. Manage pesticide resistance.
  • Archive scientific documentation: Store documents such as protocols, analysis results and scientific data using archiving systems to enable scientists and engineers to take methods and results from previous studies into account for their research.
  • Write scientific papers: Present the hypothesis, findings, and conclusions of your scientific research in your field of expertise in a professional publication.
  • Manage farm supplies: Manage farm supplies by taking care of the purchase and storing procedures. Select and purchase supplies and equipment such as seeds, livestock feed, fertilisers and farm machinery.
  • Advise on the causes of crop disorders: Identify crops that have a specific susceptibility to particular disorders and advise on the procedures that are suitable for their treatment.
  • Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.

ISCO group and title

2132 – Farming, forestry and fisheries advisers


References
  1. Agronomist – ESCO
  2. What Is an Agronomist? | Indeed.com
  3. Featured image: Photo by Kawê Rodrigues on Unsplash
Last updated on January 14, 2024