Career as a Plant and Soil Scientist


Summary

A Plant and Soil Scientist is someone who works in the agricultural field studying the different compositions of soil and the effects they have on plant life, crops, and the national food supply. Some soil and plant scientists work directly in the field, while others work in test kitchens developing new ways to process foods. By studying the characteristics of yielding crops, how they grow in different soils, how to control pests, and the general chemical, biological, and physical makeup of the ground and plants, soil and plant scientists work to increase the national production of food as the need and population grows.

Plant and Soil Scientists research the composition of soil to see how it affects plant growth. They study the breeding and cultivating of plants, as well as the yield that crops produce at the end of the growing season. They research the reaction of soil and crops to alternative methods of growing plants such as genetic modification. Scientists study the different characteristics of soil based on where it is located and the minerals that are in the soil, as well as what living organisms reside in the soil and how they impact production. Another job done by soil and plant scientists is investigating contamination in soil and groundwater, and finding ways to change the characteristics of the contaminated area – physically, chemically or biologically.

Plant and Soil Scientists take their findings and give information to food growers regarding the ways they can best use their land, and what crops are best suited to be grown on the property. They survey land that has not been developed and aid in deciding whether it should become classified as conservation land. Soil and plant scientists supervise land conservation projects, as well as waste management programs for farms including composting. Scientists also alter soil types to grow different types of plants in environments where they may not naturally occur. The duties of Plant and Soil Scientists includes to studying and developing methods of soil conservation, identifying and determining the reasons for poor water and soil quality; and advising farmers on how they can avoid erosion problems and boost plant growth. They may also perform experiments in an effort to create new crop varieties. Research may be required to find out the details of soil formation and how its properties vary according to geographic location.

Work Environment

The workplace of a Plant and Soil Scientist will vary depending on the field they are employed in. Many spend regular hours on the job working in laboratories or offices in the field of applied research. Soil and plant scientists that work with foods may spend their work hours in kitchens dedicated to testing and discovering new food processing methods. Scientists who work strictly with soil and crops will spend a great deal of time outside gathering samples for research on farms and other agricultural properties. The workplace is a team environment with many scientists working together to develop new techniques as well as improve existing products and techniques within their field.

Entry Level Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or in related fields.

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