More of today’s students are considering degrees in farming as sustainable living becomes more popular, and a Master’s in Agriculture can open many career doors for them.
By participating in an agriculture degree program, students often learn techniques that they can use to produce their own high quality food as well as skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs within the agriculture industry.
Here are just a few possible career paths for graduates with advanced degrees in agriculture.
Organic Farm Manager
Organic food production is experiencing some of the highest growth rates of any segment within the agricultural industry. Many people are moving away from the highly processed, convenience foods that are widely used within industrialized societies. Informed consumers, who recognize the direct link between quality of life and diet, want highly nutritious, real food that is produced without the use of toxic chemicals. A certified organic farm can offer consumers and grocers plenty of options if its farm operations are performed efficiently. Farm managers plan which types of crops that they will grow based on demand, market prices and land suitability. Although variables like weather, disease and foreign farm competition are generally out of their span of control, these organic farm managers make sure that their selected crops have everything that they need to produce a profitable harvest. This means timing planting and fertilization efforts as well as conducting vigilant non-chemical pest control. In recent years, farmers and livestock managers held over 1.3 million jobs in the United States, and farm managers represented 20 percent of these employment figures.
Crop and Soil Scientist
An aspiring organic farmer must let his or her land sit for three years without applying prohibited chemicals to it in order to meet the requirements to sell certified organic items to individuals or grocery store resellers. Keeping soil free from contaminants is a good first step towards healthy produce. Making sure that the soil has the nutrients that it needs to support the growth of nutritious food is also a continued high priority. Graduates who specialize in crop and soil science are taught about a variety of techniques to keep farm soil vital. Crop scientists provide advice on which plant combinations to sow to reduce damage from pests and fungus without the use of chemicals. They can work directly for farms or as consultants for government agencies. Soil scientists have the knowledge and skills to analyze the chemical and physical properties of soil and make suggestions about land use. These scientists identify when soil is nutrient deficient, and they could advise property owners about crop rotation schedules.
Community Garden Coordinator
The role of community garden coordinator is a good career fit for agricultural leaders who have a knack for teaching and story telling. Growing one’s own food is a skill that should be of interest to everyone. The skill is especially relevant for people who live in poor, urban areas. Community garden coordinators facilitate the preparation of garden plots for public use, plan and present gardening workshops, train new gardeners and conduct fundraisers for garden supplies and equipment. Many garden coordinators are keen problem solvers who network with other community representatives to purchase equipment to share.
While some developing nations face food shortages, other nations search for ways to minimize food waste through better crop management methods. A Master’s in Agriculture can give graduates the necessary tools to address these challenges in ways that are positive for people and the environment.