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Soil and Plant Scientists Career

Career Description

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.

What Job Titles Soil and Plant Scientists Might Have

  • Agronomist
  • Crop Nutrition Scientist
  • Research Soil Scientist
  • Soil Scientist

What Soil and Plant Scientists Do

  • Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
  • Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
  • Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Provide information or recommendations to farmers or other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, or avoid or correct problems such as erosion.
  • Develop environmentally safe methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Investigate soil problems or poor water quality to determine sources and effects.
  • Conduct experiments investigating how soil forms, changes, or interacts with land-based ecosystems or living organisms.
  • Conduct research to determine best methods of planting, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, or transporting horticultural products.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the effects of alternative practices on the environment.
  • Develop methods of conserving or managing soil that can be applied by farmers or forestry companies.
  • Study ways to improve agricultural sustainability, such as the use of new methods of composting.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.
  • Identify degraded or contaminated soils and develop plans to improve their chemical, biological, or physical characteristics.
  • Develop ways of altering soils to suit different types of plants.
  • Identify or classify species of insects or allied forms, such as mites or spiders.
  • Provide advice regarding the development of regulatory standards for land reclamation or soil conservation.
  • Study insect distribution or habitat and recommend methods to prevent importation or spread of injurious species.
  • Consult with engineers or other technical personnel working on construction projects about the effects of soil problems and possible solutions to these problems.
  • Perform chemical analyses of the microorganism content of soils to determine microbial reactions or chemical mineralogical relationships to plant growth.
  • Conduct experiments regarding causes of bee diseases or factors affecting yields of nectar or pollen.

What Soil and Plant Scientists Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Soil and Plant Scientists Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Soil and Plant Scientists Need to Learn

  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Leaf iconThis career is a green occupation.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $62,300

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.