Studies & Degrees in Agriculture
Choose where you would like to study Agriculture:AlgeriaAmerican SamoaArgentinaAustraliaBangladeshBermudaBosnia and HerzegovinaBrazilBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaChinaColombiaCosta RicaCroatiaCubaCzech RepublicDenmarkEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEthiopiaFijiFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGreeceGuyanaHaitiHondurasHungaryIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIrelandItalyJapanKenyaKyrgyzstanLaoLebanonLesothoMacedoniaMadagascarMauritiusMozambiqueNamibiaNew ZealandNicaraguaOmanPalestinePolandPortugalPuerto RicoSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSloveniaSouth AfricaSouth KoreaSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSwazilandSwitzerlandTaiwanTanzaniaThe United KingdomThe United StatesTrinidad and TobagoTurkeyUgandaUnited Arab EmiratesUruguayVietnamZambiaZimbabwe
The development of society as it is now would not have come to fruition had man not learned the science of food production or more popularly known as Agriculture. Before, ancient men would use the slash and burn method which tends to deplete the resources of the land. When game and edible plants would be running dry, the ancient people would then move on to the next uninhabited place where food is available hence they became nomadic. However, at some point maybe these nomads discovered that plants grow from seeds and they observe a certain cycle. From that knowledge, nomadic tribes stayed put in one place and before they knew it, their tribes became thriving settlements which would later became cities and nations.
Agriculture would normally refer to livestock and plant farming and everything else that relates to food production. In modern times, plant farming could be very complicated. Planting seeds is not what they used to where seeds were simply injected to a patch of land and then wait for them to grow. Modern farmers would perhaps check first ph-levels of the soil to see if, indeed, a particular plant would grow to such environment. Modern techniques like crop rotation, application of fertilizers and pesticides are widely used to get maximum usage of the land. Land tilling is not as a back breaker anymore as it used to be as modern machines can do an animal’s job in a matter of minutes. Application of pesticides has rather become a task that can be completed in minutes as compared to a whole day affair. Perhaps, the most astounding innovation of modern technology to the field of Agriculture is the application of genetic engineering to plants. Some farmers are already using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) which allows crops to be disease and insect resistant.
In the livestock area, modernization has also caught on. Animal scientists are developing technologies that would bring down fat content to minimize the threat of heart disease which has been the number one cause of death in most countries year after year and being linked to high cholesterol foods. There has been a news item a couple of years back where a cow was successfully cloned and was given a live birth through a surrogate mother. There have also been rumors that allege a major food chain that is growing chickens attached to tube feeders comparable to the movie “Matrix.” It is said that these chickens are stationary and limbless as a result of higher muscular content. These technologies however are having resistance from all sorts of groups as making clones and unconventional livestock growing are tampering with nature or playing God and unknown consequences may be brought about by these unnatural methods.
The field of Agriculture is indeed the backbone of every society as food is the very basic need of human beings. Right now, the question of feeding 5 billion people remains a task to be accomplished. Population as according to a theory doubles every 30 years. If projection of the number of mouths to feed does not change then it is high time that more people should take up courses in Agriculture so that more people would give thought on how to balance the ratio between population and food production.
One of the courses which is sure not to get obsolete despite the proliferation of new ones is no other than Agriculture Botany and Forestry Science. Even at this time where Computer Science and Telecommunication courses seem to be on the periphery of every college-bound student’s minds to take, Agriculture Botany and Forestry Science graduates remain a high paying job especially when pursued all the way to a doctorate degree.
With the challenges facing the human race right now, the need for more people taking this course has never been more urgent. Because the population of the world has literally exploded compared to, say, 30 years ago, the challenge of feeding the world perhaps may lie on understanding plants more. There has never been a more natural and healthier food source for humans than plants. Learning new techniques on the area of plant breeding is perhaps one key to alleviate hunger which future graduates of this course can only understand and can fathom. Basically, the course is designed on understanding how plants can be utilized in whatever useful field like medicine, food, clothing or raw materials for modern industries.
More or less, one can deduce that this is one area of study that is research intensive. This will entail long hours both in laboratories and field work. The computer age has not only improved lives of people but also of scientists like botanists. Students will now be also utilizing computerized instrumentation gadgets to aid them measure things like relative humidity, temperature, soil moisture content or any other things. Before, getting information may require some calculations but now, information can instantly be derived, and that could only mean more time to research and development of plant breeding techniques.
The other third of the course is Forestry Science which, of course, would be focused on research on forest plants. Although Forestry Science, of course, would be largely based on botanical science concepts, it will be more focused on conservation of forests, reforestation techniques and taxonomy because forests are one place where new species of plants could spring as a result of cross fertilizations with whole gene pool of flora present in the area.
Before, Agriculture Botany and Forestry Science used to be offered as separate degree courses but now some schools have found a way to integrate the two disciplines and just give students more latitude to work on as the course would be encompassing three overlapping disciplines which are agriculture, botany and forestry. It would be up to the student which area would be more suited for them but the course would expose them to all three.
With regards to opportunities, a lot of new companies have sprung for the last decade or so whipping up miracle cures but are really preventive medicines in the guise of food supplements. These companies were founded as technology can now allow encapsulation of plant extracts. Right now, the market has only tapped a number of plants like ginger, aloe vera, gingko biloba, berries, grapes but the possibilities are really endless as each plant could have a unique ingredient that could be extracted.
Job positions for Agriculture:
Among the richest men who ventured into agriculture are those who gallantly brave the challenges of cattle raising. Thanks to the popularity of fast food chains like Burger King and McDonalds, beef consumption in the form of hamburgers has seen unprecedented heights. As long as hamburgers are selling, Cattle Raisers can grow as many cattle as they can as these fast food chains are adding branches all over the world. Imagine how many cattle should be grown if McDonalds successfully penetrate the Chinese palate which numbers to around a billion mouths. If one Chinese national even just out of curiosity, would buy one Big Mac Burger priced at $1 (for computing purposes only) in his or her lifetime that would give the company a whooping $1 billion.
Cattle raising however is a daunting task. To produce quality beef that would be at par with international standards, certain farm practices have to be observed. First and foremost, safety precautions which usually are related to cleanliness and good sanitation practices should be in place. This way, viruses and bacteria would be discouraged to propagate and the health of the cattle and the farm help would not be put at constant risk. Perhaps, the most important part in cattle raising is the training of people on how to properly do basic things like milking cows, feeding, handling the animals when mating them, weaning, feeding, and the most delicate of them all is when the mama cow is giving birth. It is advisable that Cattle Raisers should see the condition of newly-born calves the moment they are born. More often, the breeding capability of a calf’s parents can immediately be assessed on the youngling’s initial movements. The difference between successful commercial farms is how well developed their breeding programs are. Setting schedules when heifers and breeding cows are to be serviced by their bulls. This is very important because when cows are given enough time to rest from giving birth, the calves that would be produced would be naturally of healthier constitution. Cattle Raisers should also take into account when to castrate male cows that won’t be used as studs. The process of castrating non-alpha males has been found to produce around 500-650 kilograms of live weight.
Investing in a good veterinarian would prove to be the wisest thing as their expertise would be a good source of technical information. Normally, the veterinarians are the ones who make necessary recommendations on what farm practices should be observed as profits would all depend on the overall health of the herd.
Cattle Raisers should also take into account other aspects of raising cattle such as production of dairy and leather. Dairy production usually includes making of butter, milk, cheese and other products derived from milk. Investing in mechanical milking machines would also be a good move as milk and milk products are becomingly increasing in demand.
Cattle raising is indeed more of a management task if done on a commercial scale. Courses in agriculture would be very useful for future Cattle Raisers as knowledge in both production and management aspects of running a farm will be taught in a very scientific manner.
The field of agriculture would probably be still in the dark ages had not been advancements in one of its sub-branches made tremendous breakthroughs in the last decades. If not for Agronomists, modern farmers would still be doing trial and error farming. Agronomists helped the field of agriculture greatly, specifically on the improvement of irrigation and drainage methods, plant breeding, pest control (weed and insects), plant genetic engineering, soil fertility and farm management.
In the area of plant breeding, Agronomists are aiming to produce the most suitable crop for any given condition. Normally, plants as it has been observed, generally, grow at specific places because certain conditions are suitable for the propagation of specific plants. Like, for instance coconut and other palm trees are tropical plants and grow abundantly on hot places because they can retain moisture longer than any plant in the planet. However, due to advances in hybrid plants, nowadays, it is not surprising to find tomato growing in a different climate which is usually grown in cold places. Before, and even now, plants do observe seasonality but Agronomist have found ways to grow seasonal plants even when they should be out of season. Another breakthrough in plant breeding is enhancement of a plant’s useful part. Thanks to the method of selective breeding, plant breeders have been able to produce bigger tomato fruits, longer rice grains, bananas with less seeds and for sure almost any commercial plant has a desirable characteristic that had been more or less a product of plant breeding.
Another area in the domain of Agronomists is pest control. Pests usually come in the form of insects and weeds. Some insects eat the plants and some insects are vectors of microorganisms that are harmful to the plants. Agronomists specializing in insect control would have to have further studies in entomology and chemistry. One of the most common methods of controlling insects is by application of pesticides. Agronomists make it their business to know what kinds of chemicals are not friendly to the insects but friendly to plants and humans. With regards to weeds, weeds are also considered pests and needs to be controlled because they compete with the plants nutrition and water intake. Bottom line, a plant’s health and capability to produce quality fruits or whatever essential plant part is needed would depend on the growth of weeds around it. Because of advances in pesticide technology, productivity in plant-based farming has increased immensely as losses brought about by insects and weeds have been neutralized.
Agronomists are also the guys to contact in case soils are needed to be analyzed. Different soils have different characteristics like ph-level and moisture retention capabilities. If plants are grown on a wrong soil, chances are, they won’t have a chance of even exfoliating a single leaf. Plants are not the only ones needing special treatments as properties of soils like nutrient content changes over time. Agronomist would recommend steps to take in order to bring levels of potassium, sodium and other essential nutrients into equilibrium in order to produce quality crops.
With land increasingly becoming scarce, the services of Agronomists can undoubtedly become one of the most sought after professions in the future. Solving the problem of feeding the world remains a quintessential task but Agronomists would definitely be in the forefront in solving the problem of producing food for everyone.