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Soil/Plant Scientist

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Bachelor's degree

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What They Do

Soil and Plant Scientists Career Video

About This Career

Conducts research in breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock, their growth in soils, and control of pests; or studies the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth. May classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Plant Systems pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Communicates research or project results to other professionals or the public or teaches related courses, seminars, or workshops.
  • Develops methods of conserving or managing soil that can be applied by farmers or forestry companies.
  • Provides information or recommendations to farmers or other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, or avoid or correct problems such as erosion.
  • Conducts experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
  • Investigates soil problems or poor water quality to determine sources and effects.
  • Investigates responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.
  • Conducts experiments to investigate the underlying mechanisms of plant growth and response to the environment.
  • Identifies degraded or contaminated soils and develops plans to improve their chemical, biological, or physical characteristics.
  • Develops new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Provides advice regarding the development of regulatory standards for land reclamation or soil conservation.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Plant Research Geneticist
  • Agronomist — Studies plants and their growth in soils and ways to improve the nutritional value of crops and to help increase productivity.
  • Arboriculture Researcher
  • Crop Nutrition Scientist
  • Forage Physiologist
  • Research Scientist
  • Horticulture Specialist
  • Research Soil Scientist
  • Plant Physiologist
  • Scientist — Conducts theoretical and applied research into the composition, distribution and evolution of soils.


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