Ag 101 Week 37

Agronomy-It's Not Just Vague Lingo For Big Ass Profit Driven Farmers


I came across an article in The Modern Farmer from September 4th called “The Modern Farmer Glossary of Farm Jargon.” In it, they explain terms associated with modern day farming and one of them happen to be “Agronomy.” The author defines it as “the science of agriculture, specifically as it relates to industrial-scale farming and profit maximization.”

You can read the rest of the article here

At that time I didn’t think much about it.

That is until I was getting this weeks’ post ready. For several weeks now I have wanted to go back and reiterate my role as an agronomist. I wrote a short intro and linked to the following post from before I started the 52 Weeks of Agronomy Series

Done! I went on with the rest of my day.

Then I remembered reading the article.

I reread it and thought to myself, “Whoever came up with that definition of agronomy did not go to college with me. Every professor I had explained agronomy as the science of crop and soil management.” The agricultural science phrase used in the article seems a bit vague and at no point in time did any of my professors say it was for industrial-scale farming and profit maximization. Was it implied you wanted maximum profit, sure? But we focused on the crops yield, soil health, and the strategies to achieve them.

Yes. I understand it is modern day language for modern day people. Yes. I realize I could be splitting hairs. No, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with big ass profit driven farmers. I'm related to some, and they are some of my favorite relatives. I'm a firm believer it will take all types of agriculture and farmers to feed us. There's a lot of us, and we all get hungry. 

But, hear me out.

I started to think about the word jargon and what it implies. Jargon is defined as-

Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.

Not buying that the word agronomy is mere jargon, I thought about how a technical term is defined. Technical terminology is-

The body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study, theory, profession, etc.

That sounds more like the agronomy I know. It is a term used to explain the science of crop and soil management. 


I know all too well that people have no idea what agronomy is or what an agronomist does, both in and outside of the industry. Tell someone you are an agronomist. I dare you. You will experience what I deal with every day. This is why I am referred to as The Dirt Lady that gives soil sermons! Can I get an AMEN!

And this is why I started the 52 Weeks of agronomy series in the first place. An entire generation, maybe more at this point who need it the most, is out there thinking agronomy is vague lingo that only applies to big ass profit driven farmers. That it has nothing to do with them. It is merely jargon. 

My definition of agronomy is-

the science of soil management and crop production no matter what size or type of farm

And as an agronomist it is-

my job to take the best science has to offer a farmer and make it practical for their situation so they can implement it to be successful

As for the notion, it is only applicable to industrial-scale farms; maybe this is why small-scale growers don’t know of and aren't implementing basic sound agronomic principles that would make them a more successful farmer? 

Maybe no one ever thought to teach or explain it to other types of farmers?  

I touch on this in week 9

Since getting back into the Ag industry, I have long felt that the true meaning of what agronomy is and what an agronomist does is often overshadowed by marketing trends and mistaken for other Ag related occupations. 

And for some reason, that I have yet to totally figure out, the very people who need to understand agronomy seem to be dismissive and almost offended by what it has to offer them. 

Agronomy and the practical application of it's principles can make or break a growers success. Sure, anyone can get stuff to grow, but using your resources efficiently and effectively is what sets growers apart and helps them stay in business.  

If you have a garden, make a million dollars off an acre growing salad mix, milk two cows or thousands, have a pet chicken, raise any kind of livestock, grow crops in a hoop house high tunnel whatever you want to call it, grow blueberries in a container on your porch, have a 15 member CSA, or farm 10,000 acres agronomy is part of what you do. If it involves soil, plants, and the people growing them it involves agronomy.

To this accidental agronomist soil sermon giving dirt lady

Agronomy is–

Using soil and crop management principles based on science that can be practically applied by any scale or type of grower to be a prosperous sustainable steward of the land,

                                                                             not just vague lingo for big ass profit driven farmers.