Agronomy: Its Importance to Crop and Food Production

Agronomy: Its Importance to Crop and Food Production
External Guest Writer
May 11, 2022

What is Agronomy?

Much like agriculture, agronomy deals with maintaining optimal conditions for growing crop yields in accordance to plant requirements, as well as the changes in soil fertility due to limiting factors such as climate change and run-off.

This branch of science deals with soil management and preservation as well as crop production from a holistic perspective. It is a broad scope that studies the soil in relation to how different varieties of crops are grown. The science classifies soil into various categories that connote to the soil drainage, nutrients, and fertility for growing plants. 

Agronomy also deals with plant breeding, pest control and management, and weed control. This branch of agricultural science enhances the development of crop production, and improves crop quality for both food and non-food produce. Agronomy branches out to analyze growth of fiber, oil, and ornamental plants, as well as food crops.

How is Agronomy Different from Agriculture?

Agronomy works alongside agriculture, but is non-exclusive. The crop science is under the umbrella of agricultural sciences: agriculture deals with crops as they grow, while agronomy deals with soil fertility to grow crops effectively. In essence, agriculture studies crop growth for specific use cases, while agronomy focuses on maintaining earth quality for specific crops.

The science is important to sustainable crop yields, and it has a significant effect on water conservation as researchers optimize the use of water in agriculture to prevent soil runoff. Studies under agronomy provide new approaches and modern methods to one of the oldest cultural practices: food production.

Agronomy has become an essential science as the demand for agricultural crops increases with the growing population. The soil science handles studies to provide enough natural resources for biofuels, animal feed, sustainable materials, and more in a bid to create a greener environment that encourages innovation and creativity across several industries.

Agronomy - Soil Management

Agronomy is not only essential for food and fiber production - the science sustains the nutrients in the soil needed to keep the earth continuously fertile for plant growth. Researchers take samples of different soils, and test these samples based on quality, water retention, and other factors needed to compute data.  This promotes soil preservation to keep crop production ongoing for generations to come. 

However, there are challenges facing agronomy studies, as climate change is an increasingly prominent threat to soil health. Global warming has made it difficult to accurately study the soil, as nutrients are breaking down faster in the severe changes in weather. 

It is under agronomic studies to find a holistic perspective on soil management practices, and to promote environmental sustainability through the earth. Agronomy would be able to tell the nutrients needed to turn over crop fields to grow crops effectively throughout the seasons.

Agronomy - Plant Hybridization

Agronomy plays an important role in food production, and agronomists work together with farmers in gathering their data for analysis. For instance, grains and legumes have evolved over time to provide more abundant harvests in less time as compared to historical counterparts that required more time and labor to produce.

Agronomic crops are grown to be sustainable and cost-effective. Alongside plant breeding, agronomists study the nutrients, soil type, and other controlled variables to ensure a successful hybrid. Agronomy researchers, or agronomists, study crop production to determine the necessary factors needed to grow desired characteristics in plants.

Another example of agronomy at work is through rhubarbs, where the plants are forced to grow quickly in extreme darkness for softer and sweeter stalks. These forced rhubarbs have been cultivated to grow without any sunlight, and are provided essential nutrients through the roots soil instead. This method allows farm profitability in areas where natural sunlight is scarce.

Agronomy - Optimizing Plant Development

Information and data gathered from sampling and observations is used to study developments in crop production. Generally, agronomists study how to further improve plant yields based on soil quality, sunlight requirements, and moisture among other factors.

Agronomy has newfound significance with the popularity of urban gardening. With garden beds and pots, soil does not have the opportunity to take in nutrients from natural sources. Agronomy improves on potted plant production as well as fertilizers that will provide the best nutrients for all types of flora at an organic rate. 

Agronomy also has a place in hydroponics, despite the latter using growing medium and irrigation systems in place of soil. Researches in agronomy provide the information that hydroponic farmers use to grow their crops without soil, manually providing the nutrients needed to mimic soil-growing conditions for crop growth and plant breeding.

The science of agronomy also controls weeds and other crop pests. The use of diatomaceous earth and neem oil, popular in organic farming, have been studied under agronomy to control weeds, repel crop pests, and act as a natural fertilizer at the same time. Advancements like these are what optimize plant development for agronomic crops.

Growing Crops Effectively

Currently, existing agricultural industries would be lost without the data provided by agronomic studies. There is a significant increase in soil research and crop improvement, especially as environmental degradation has urged researchers to find new methods and technology to preserve the earth for crop growth.