soil

About the Department

Agronomy is focused on new and improved ways of agriculture. New methods of conservation. Improved soil health. New approaches to bioenergy. Improved water quality. Advanced genetic traits. The end goal is producing food, fuel and fiber in a more efficient and economical way for the benefit of people and the environment around the world.

We are applying science to advance crop production systems while protecting and improving air, soil and water quality.

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Soil science will offer a certificate between a minor and a major by providing official recognition for the focus area of study. A bachelor's degree from Iowa State University is not required to earn the certificate, and it is designed to match up with federal and state requirements to obtain a federal job classified for soil scientists and get licensure in states requiring it. 

Dr. Bradley Miller, assistant professor of agronomy, explains that the certificate requires 31 credits, but 22 of those may count from other academic programs that students are involved in. The certificate is built to help students have a strong foundation in understanding soil systems.

After a crazy past month with everything moving to online and our graduation ceremony being canceled, our seniors deserve some extra love!

Our next senior feature is Austin Day.

Austin will be graduating in May and will be heading out in the industry to work in agricultural marketing. During his time as an undergrad, Austin says his favorite class was Soil Conservation and Land Use.

"Even when classes get hard and you want to give up, keep pushing through. You'll get through your troubles quicker than you think," said Austin.

Best wishes in your new job and future endeavors, Austin!

Research on the benefits from prairie strips placed in crop fields continues to grow at Iowa State University.

STRIPS, or “Science-based Trails of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips,” is a project investigating strips of farmland converted to native prairie plants. These strips are typically created between crops, at the edge of farm fields, or on lower performing fields.

The soil fertility tests farmers have used for decades to measure nitrogen levels don’t account for the vast majority of the nitrogen in soils, so Iowa State University scientists helped develop a new test that yields more accurate results by using soil biology.

Our next senior is Nick Allen, who is interested in soil conservation.

Nick plans to join the workforce, with hopes to obtain a job that allows him to apply his knowledge in soils.

His favorite class he took at Iowa State was Agron 463 - Soil Formation and Landscape Relationships. Nick enjoyed being able to travel around the state to see the soils and concepts learned in class in person, which really helped drive the points home.

"Don't be afraid to take classes you would not normally take, it may just change your career path," said Nick.

Best wishes in your future endeavors, Nick!

 

Abigale Kennon, senior in agronomy, is our next senior spotlight. 

Abigale will graduate this spring and begin working as a research assistant for GDM Seeds in Minnesota.

Her favorite class she took within the department at Iowa State was Agron 463 - Soil Formation and Landscape.

Abigale's advice for others is that your future is your own so do what you want with it.

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Abigale!

Ask any farmer and they will explain the importance of soil. While seasonal weather can be the difference from a good harvest and a worrisome one, the soil moderates the long-term productivity of that harvest. The inherent properties of soil types are vital to know when it comes to management practices on any agricultural landscape.

“We rely on soil for so many different things, the list can be overwhelming at times,” said Bradley Miller, assistant professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. “You think about why the state of Iowa has the agricultural economy that it does, and that is largely because of the soil it has.”

Massive networks of drains, pipes and tiles that enable food production on much of the world’s most productive cropland are due for expansion and replacement to meet the demands of agricultural intensification and climate change. How that infrastructure is updated will have enormous consequences on food production and the environment, according to a new study.

The hills were blackened. What was once a house, now a concrete slab.

Wildfires brought destruction to the lush hillside vineyards, rangelands and forests of Napa County, California, in the fall of 2017. Six months later, Jacob Wright, a junior in agronomy, found himself in the midst of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) team dedicated to the recovery of the landscape.

“Often people just didn’t know where to start,” says Wright. “We would visit the property and point them in the right direction. We worked together with multiple agencies at both the state and federal level.”

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