An agricultural scientist is employed by research institutions, regional governments, and private employers to study aspects of agriculture including plant growth, soil conditions, animal husbandry, and crop growth. These scientists work in laboratories, on farms, in offices, and at universities. The field of specialty chosen determines their area of expertise, as many different types of knowledge contribute to agricultural advancements. Job openings in agricultural science typically ask for applicants who possess a particular type of educational background and research experience. Most agricultural scientists have earned a four year college degree, and the majority hold a master's degree or doctorate.
When an individual agricultural scientist specializes in soil research, the main focus of the work is improve soil conditions, test soil properties, and record soil changes over time. Soil work includes gathering and testing samples, examining soil properties in the laboratory, and writing research reports based on tests and findings. Improved agricultural soil conditions instituted based on research conducted can often increase crop yield and save farming costs.
Another field an agricultural scientist can choose to specialize in is plant research. Many aspects of plants are important in agriculture including planting, growing, and overall plant health and quality. Field work and research presentations based off plant studies are a major component of the job.
Animals in agriculture are also studied by an agricultural scientist. Breeding, meat quality, dairy uses, and poultry farming can all be researched. Studies in plant and animal research conducted by agricultural scientists are funded by farmers, bio-tech businesses, non-profits, and government organizations. Research can be completed as part of a university study, as a business growth plan, or as a government based farm improvement project.
Keeping up with emerging technology can be an important part of the job of an agricultural scientist as new techniques and knowledge can vastly improve crop growth and animal breeding. Advancements in genetics and computer modeling can save time when researching proposed changes. Automation in farming processes can also help increase the efficiency of agricultural research.
An individual interested in becoming an agricultural scientist should first attend and graduate from a four year university, usually majoring in a type of biology or chemistry. After college, aspiring agricultural scientists can attend graduate school to earn a master's degree and may choose to work toward a doctorate degree. Jobs in agricultural science can be found once an individual has earned research experience working in the laboratory of a university while completing their education.