Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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It never ceases that when you get into a conversation with someone one of the first questions asked is "oh what do you do?" As in, what do you do for a living. I work full time for my husband who is a partner in an agronomy business called Maverick Ag. And usually when I drop the word "agronomy" people give me this funny look and say "agrono...what?" Most of the time my reply is that he advises farmers on seed and chemical. But the truth is, he is so much more than that. If I had to break the job of an agronomist down into the most simple of terms it would be. An agronomist is part crop advisor, part counselor, part friend, and part salesman.
So Where Did Agronomy Come From?
If you were to sit down and talk with farmers here from a generation ago, they would tell you that agronomy was an unheard of profession and certainly, an agronomist was not someone they typically brought out onto the farm. In fact, my husband has told me several times that he never went to college with aspirations to become an agronomist. In fact, he had never even heard of agronomy. He basically took some plant science classes through that found he had a passion for agronomy.
Agronomy is certainly something that has evolved out of demand and necessity in the past several decades. Today as technologies in the seed industry rapidly increase, it is becoming demanding for farmers to make decisions on what to plant. Crops of the past (in our area) such as wheat, barley, oats, sunflowers, and flax which gave farmers limited seed selection have now evolved into corn and soybeans.
With these new crops, farmers were met with more diverse seed selection than the crops of the past. They needed some insight into how these different seed technologies would produce in this area. As cropping diversified and no till was adapted, there was also an opportunity for agronomists to give advice on new chemical and herbicides used in no-till methods of production. Agronomists fill all of these niches, helping farmers keep up with technologies both in chemical application as well as selecting seeds that best fit the farmer’s fields.
But, What Does an Agronomist Do Exactly?
What role does an agronomist play in today’s agriculture world? An agronomist keeps up to date and maintains vast knowledge of all the new and upcoming innovations in seed, chemical, and crop nutrients. An agronomist helps farmers with seed selection and choosing which technologies best suit their land.
An agronomist helps with weed identification and can make herbicide recommendations for a wide variety of cropping systems. An agronomist can help farmers with nutrient management through soil sampling and make recommendations for fertilizers and micronutrients.
An agronomy business can extend beyond crop consulting, acting as the intermediary through securing and supplying the products essential for farmers in their operations. As technologies are continually changing at a rapid pace, the duties of agronomist and the niche they fill will follow those changes.
Where Does the Future of Agronomy Lie?
The future of agronomy lies in ever changing world of agriculture today from shifting weed spectrums, to maximizing yields, and implementing new technologies. As new herbicide tolerant and resistant weeds continue to be discovered, agronomists keep up to date on methods and new innovations to combat these resistant weeds.
As seed technologies look towards further development, agronomists are given more choices in seed varieties such as dicamba and 2,4-D herbicide tolerant crops. The future of agronomy lies in carefully navigating market and supply challenges for seed, chemical, and crop nutrients.
There is no denying the market and supply for Ag inputs has changed by production being limited to year-to-year usage with shortages in product becoming more common. Acquiring the products necessary to fill the demand for customers takes pre-planning and making informed decisions based upon years previous. As the Ag retail industry changes, there is no doubt agronomists will be there to change and evolve with it.