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Conduct research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.
May also be called: Agroecologists; Agronomists; Agronomy Research Managers; Crop Nutrition Scientists; Pedologists; Physical Hydrologists; Plant Breeders; Plant Ecologists; Plant Scientists; Research Soil Scientists; Soil Chemists; Soil Fertility Extension Specialists; Soil Microbiologists; Soil Scientists
Soil and Plant Scientists* work to make sure that the soils in which crops are planted and where people live and work are stable, fertile, and free from pollution.
Soil Scientists study, evaluate, and analyze soils to get information for agricultural production and management of natural ecosystems. They also do this to understand how soil and soil conditions affect the environment and human health. The soil is not just the stuff in which plants grow. It is also where many interactions take place between living organisms, such as microbes, worms, centipedes and insects and bugs, plants, and fungi. These creatures interact under variable climatic and geological conditions. This zone of interaction is known as the "pedosphere", the top layer of the earth. It is the ground on which we walk.
Some Soil Scientists (pedologists) are interested in how to apply an understanding of the evolution of soils and how they work. They interpret its environmental history and predict the effects of changes in land use. For example, they study the effects of converting land never used before to agriculture. They may study the effects of soil use going from agriculture to manufacturing, or from manufacturing to residential use, and so on. Other Soil Scientists (soil chemists, soil physicists and soil microbiologists) approach the soil as a complex thing that helps get rid of pollution, stores water and nutrients and supports plant growth. Millions of years of geological and meteorological processes and thousands of years of plant cultivation have struck a very fragile balance. Soil Scientists work to maintain that balance to make sure the soil can be renewed and kept healthy. They work to keep the soil healthy and sustainable for agriculture. The work to ensure a safe and healthy foundation for human living, and the continued quality of our natural resources and ecosystems.
Plant Scientists study plants and the places where they grow. For example, they determine what varieties of crops are most helpful to produce human and livestock food, fibers for textiles, and fuels for vehicles and machines. They conduct studies to establish best practices and methods to conserve and renew natural resources.
Plant Scientists look for ways to improve the food value of crops and the quality of seed. They also study the ecology of plant communities and the biodiversity that is important for managing rangelands and forests. Some study the breeding, physiology, and management of crops and use genetic engineering to develop crops that are strong and can put up with bad weather. Agronomists study and put together crop management practices. Agroecologists study the ways in which crops can be improved by ecological processes and biodiversity. Some Plant Scientists develop technologies to fight pests and prevent their spread in ways that are not harmful to the environment. They also conduct research or oversee activities to halt the spread of disease caused by insects.
Tools and Technology
During the course of their work Soil and Plant Scientists may use such tools as hand augers, gel electrophoresis systems, laboratory grinders, digital pH meters, flame photometers and luminometers, ground penetrating radar, light detection and ranging LIDAR systems, synthetic aperture radar, calibrated soil scoops and soil augers, gamma ray and X ray fluorescence spectrometers, tensiometers, and polymerase chain reaction machines.
They may use technology involved in statistics software (SAS software, SPSS software), Variogram Estimation and Spatial Prediction plus Error Vesper, Water Erosion Prediction Project, WinSieve, PEDON Description Program, PedonCE, SoilVision, GIS software, ERDAS IMAGINE,
Here are further guidelines.