What’s it all about then?
Working as an agronomist you’ll be investigating ways of improving soil productivity to maximise the production of consistently high quality crops without harming the environment.
You’ll continually update your knowledge and recommend improvements for your farmer clients.
You’ll also be responsible for solving any problems that arise with crops and making sure that all government legislation is complied with.
What might I be doing?
There are lots of things you’ll be expected to do in the role and these might include some or all of the following:
- Updating yourself on the latest research and applying this in your role
- Consulting with farmers on how to maximise their crop yield
- Assessing potential new crop cultivars which will enhance economic returns
- Encouraging the use of best practice techniques to maximise profitability
- Studying all factors which could affect crop growth and performance e.g. soil characteristics, water levels, pests and drainage
- Creating and implementing fertiliser programmes which meet both crop and environmental needs
- Advising farmers and lecturing farm lobby and other relevant interest groups
- Advising on building construction for proper storage of crops
- Monitoring any potential financial impacts
- Managing a team of field workers
- Participating on policy, research and regulatory committees
What will be expected of me?
You’ll need to be the sort of person who enjoys research and problem solving - someone who is patient, practical and methodical by nature.
It’s also vital that you’re good at communicating, both verbally and via reports etc. And you’ll need to be able to analyse complicated information and present it in a readily understood manner.
Although this is a job that involves communicating and working with others, a certain amount of your time will be spent working alone, so you need to be comfortable with both.
What can I expect?
You’ll normally work between half eight and five but there will be times when out of hours work will be needed to conduct experiments or to suit the needs of farmers.
Part of the job will be onsite requiring the wearing of protective clothing at times to protect yourself and also to ensure no contamination – this is also the case when you’re conducting experiments in a laboratory.
What about the pay?
Straight from University you’re go to be looking at around £20k to start rising to £35k and more than £45k for a senior role as you build up your experience.
Please remember that these salary figures are only a guide and will vary from company to company and region to region.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
You’ll very likely be a graduate in biology, agriculture, ecology or other bio-science related subject.
A foundation degree may also be suitable for those commencing their career as a field worker or technician.
Where would I get these qualifications?
These degrees are widely available both in dedicated agricultural higher education institutions and many other universities.
What about further training?
You may wish to specialise within the agronomy sector and you could then look towards Masters levels qualifications in soil science, genetics or other subjects; this will add to your knowledge base and also improve your career prospects.
Depending on who you are employed by, you are also likely to receive detailed product specific training.
With experience you could join a professional body which will help your development and a number of groups exist, who you join depends on your area of work.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, there are lots of prospects for Agronomists and they are employed across a wide range of areas, from Government departments, research organisations to businesses selling seeds, chemicals etc.