Imagine walking into a bright yellow field of chest-high canola bordered only by a bright blue summer sky. The afternoon sun is warm on your face as you shield your eyes to take a closer look at this crop. You are an agronomist, and your specialty is canola.
Today, you’re with a local farmer visiting his fields. He’s having a problem with his canola: areas of the field are failing. He's asked you for help in determining why this is happening and for advice on how to ensure this won’t happen next year when he re-seeds the field.
As an agronomist, you are a link between the research community that study crops like canola and the farming community. This means farmers turn to you when their canola begins to fail.
You will spend several hours examining the crop, looking for signs of what is killing the plants. Is it a disease, an insect, a weed, or a problem in the soil?
You take careful notes of your observations, which you will compare later to scientific journals and reference books. You will also discuss with your peers as you try to pinpoint the cause.
Lucky for you, you have seen something similar to this case before and suspect the culprit is a disease-specific to this variety of canola.
It’s too late for sections of this crop, but before seeding next spring, you will help this farmer select a different range of rapeseed that is resistant to this disease.
You will discuss a production package with the farmer that includes variety selection, tillage, seeding rate, optimum seeding date, fertilizer, pest control, and harvest.
You will take all the positive results from canola researchers and turn that into the package best suited for this farmer and his fields.
Job duties vary significantly from one position to the next, but in general, agronomists are involved in the following activities:
Agronomists work in a variety of locations, including:
There are a number of places to find agronomist jobs. They include:
Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Boad
If you are considering a career as an agronomist, you should have a keen interest in:
In most cases, the minimum education requirement is a university undergraduate degree.
If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an agronomist, the following programs are most applicable:
In most provinces, agronomists must be certified and a member of a professional body. An example of a professional body is the Canadian Society of Agronomy (CSA).
To demonstrate their professional credibility, agronomists may hold additional certification as a Certified Crop Adviser (CCA), and Pesticide Application License, outside the already achieved minimum degree.
Our Certified Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.
Hard/Technical Skills (obtained through formal education and training programs)
Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)
Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.
Farming came naturally to me. I was raised on a mixed fourteen hundred and forty acre farm in Alberta. As I grew I began to share in the farm work and became a member of the local 4-H Grain Club. My education was directed toward the development of the practical agricultural skills required to own and operate the family farm. A diploma in agricultural mechanics was the first step. My education continued and I completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science while still being involved with the family farm. A couple of years later I joined Alberta Agriculture working in the area of irrigation management. I enjoy working with farmers. One of the farmers commented to me when I started this position "I hope you stay awhile, I’m getting sick and tired of training you guys”. I stuck with Alberta agriculture and went on to finish my Master's degree in Agriculture. This gave me valuable training in program management techniques that I would use extensively throughout my career. Self-study is a valuable way to learn the information you need to stay on top of changes in the agriculture industry. I read manuals and handbooks as well as Internet based documents. The Alberta Institute of Agrologists is another excellent way to access professional development opportunities and network at conferences and workshops. Part of my work is to give presentations to agricultural groups and if you have to present it, you have to know it. All of these ways help to keep me current in the dynamic field of agriculture. I recently retired from my position at Alberta Agriculture but I still work as a reduced tillage agronomist on a contract basis. There are lots of opportunities out there for skilled people to contribute to the agriculture industry. Equipment companies, for example, want representatives who know agriculture and can speak about their environmentally friendly tillage machinery. Farmers are encouraged to learn about environmental approaches to farming because it is good for the land and economically beneficial overtime. They are able to see increased yields as the soil improves and reduced costs due to less machinery use. The agronomist profession is never repetitious or boring. The outdoors, variety of work tasks and the wonderful people you meet every day contribute to this great occupation. If agronomy appeals to you, get the skills and education required and get in line for a job. There are many private companies looking for people to talk about their environmentally friendly products. Helping the environment is not a hard thing to sell to farmers. Most of my interaction is with farmers and other colleagues. During a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. day I prepare and make presentations, do data processing and write reports. I also need the skills to operate farm machinery, survey, layout research plots and spray herbicides. A key function of my position is as a subject matter specialist speaker at seminars and conferences. Showing farmers environmentally friendly ways of farming is an interesting and enjoyable occupation. Helping farmers to grow alfalfa and grass in saline soil conditions is my greatest accomplishment. I was recognized by the Canadian Society of Agronomy in 2002 with a Distinguished Agronomist Award. The best reward for me though is knowing that my efforts are benefiting the environment and helping to sustain the farming culture I grew up with.
Agronomists are generally the go-between for farmers and crop researchers. Though they deal in a wide range of work, agronomists are also known as the “crop-doctor.” They help recommend solutions to farmers by reviewing research to improve field operation and productivity.
An agronomist can also work outside the agricultural industry in financial institutions, food processing companies, environmental organizations and federal and state governments.
As an agronomist, the type of work you do depends on your specialization. Agronomists often work in soil fertility, plant psychology, crop management, pest control, and water science.
Although agronomists deal with a wide range of work, they typically research crops and liaise with farmers.
Agronomists ensure that new developments in crop varieties, disease and pest control, crop rotation, and tillage systems are implemented in farming.
They spend time going through crop data, conducting experiments, and working with farmers to determine the best method of improving crop production.
As an agronomist you look at the properties of the soil, how it interacts with a growing crop, the nutrients it needs and how to apply these nutrients to the crops. The effects of climate and other environmental factors on crop growth, and how to control weeds and pests are also considered.
The extensive knowledge of agronomists in agriculture and soil science helps identify and solve problems related to the planting, harvesting, and cultivation of crops.
An individual working as an agronomist may be classified in one or more of the following occupational groupings:
NOC Code: 0821 – Managers in Agriculture
NOC Code: 2123 – Agricultural Representatives, Consultants, and Specialists
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data, describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.
The NOC is developed and updated in partnership with Statistics Canada to coincide with the 5- year census cycles. It is based on in-depth occupational research and consultations conducted across Canada, to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market.
Individuals employed as Agronomists may be classified in one or more of the following occupational groupings:
Nous travaillons actuellement sur la version française du site que nous espérons lancer très bientôt!
Merci pour votre patience et compréhension pendant que nous finalisons la version améliorée du site.
We are working to launch the French site very soon!
Thank you for your patience while we finalize the new and improved version of our website.