Studies & Degrees in Agronomy

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Do you know that the late Orville Redenbacher, an American businessman who created the most popular popcorn in the United States was an agronomist? He earned his agronomy degree from Purdue University in 1928 long before he introduced his popcorn that was the product of his experiments with hundreds of corn hybrids in their small family corn farm in Indiana. Today, 15 years after his death, Redenbacher is best remembered as one of successful personalities who have put into use the knowledge of agronomy learned from the school and actual experiments. With sufficient knowledge of plant breeding, which is part of agronomy, Redenbacher managed to improve the nutritional value of his crop—the corn.

But agronomy involves not only plant breeding, which is one of the areas of specialization that includes crop rotation, plant physiology, irrigation and drainage, soil fertility, soil classification and weed control. As a science, agronomy deals with producing plants for use as food, feed, fiber or fuel, or with soil management and production of crops. Some authorities have referred to it as scientific agriculture; involving the application of such sciences as biology and its branch genetics, chemistry, earth science, and ecology. At best, it is the application of soil and plant science to the production of crops, emphasizing food crops like rice, corn and other staple foods.

If you are a graduate of agronomy as a course of study, you are knowledgeable in bio-technology that expedites the development of the desired characteristics of plants; soil science that makes soils more productive; soil conservation that is concerned with the development of methods that can preserve the soil and protect it from the effects of erosion caused by water and wind. Agronomy graduates are likely to land jobs as businessmen (hopefully in the likes of Redenbacher, the popcorn man), consultants, professors and researchers, and other important positions in agricultural experiment stations, government agencies, universities and industrial companies, or international organizations such as the Agency for International Development (AID), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), or the United States State Department of Agriculture, especially for the Americans.

Many colleges and universities around the world offer agronomy programs of study in cognizance of the continued growth of population and an increasing need for the study of agriculture, food crops and agronomy. In the U.S., agronomy programs are offered in both graduate and undergraduate levels, with the graduate program having specializations in Agricultural Meteorology, Crop Physiology and Production, Applied Ecology, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Environmental Studies, Plant Pathology, Water Resources Planning and Management, Soil and Water Sciences, and Weed Science. An undergraduate program usually has under it such subjects as Applied Meteorology, Soil and Crop Management, International Agronomy, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Soil Biochemistry, Soil-Water-Plant Relations, Soil and Crop Science in which students learn how to maintain soils for cultivation of healthy plants, Soil Fertility and Soil Microbiology.