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Agricultural Scientists


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an agronomist inspecting a corn plant Agricultural scientists specialize in ensuring food safety and productivity.  Sub-specialties include food scientists and technologists, plant scientists, agronomists, soil scientists, and animal scientists.  Food scientists and technologists utilize chemistry, engineering, physics, microbiology, biotechnology, and other sciences in order to develop more efficient means of processing, packaging, preserving, and delivery foods.  Food scientists work in the food processing industry, as well as for universities and the federal government.  Plant scientists study plants to assess the best way to feed a growing population while conserving natural resources.  Agronomists and crop scientists develop ways to increase the nutritional value of crops and study genetic engineering to create crops that are pest and drought-resistant.  Soil scientists study the physical, biological, chemical, and mineralogical composition of soil as it relates to plant growth, fertilizers, and crop rotation and often provide recommendations to farmers.  Animal scientists attempt to develop more efficient production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy by studying the genetics, nutrition, and reproduction of domestic farm animals.

Many agricultural scientists involved with basic research work in offices or laboratories, while those involved with applied research may work in a variety of settings.  A bachelor's degree in agricultural science, biology, chemistry, physics, or a related engineering science is sufficient for most positions, but university research positions usually require a master's or Ph.D.  Opportunities in agricultural science are expected to be good, as the need for more efficient means of producing food intersects with the growing population and need to conserve resources.  More information about agriculture science careers is available at this USDA and Purdue University Living Science Careers web page.

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