Soil scientists analyze characteristics of soil, the different soil types, and research the ability to survive in differentiated conditions. They also are responsible for the study of soil structure, properties, chemical compensations and the different stages of transformations that soil goes through.
What responsibilities will I have?
- Research or study soil characteristics, map soil types, and investigate responses of soils to known management practices to determine use capabilities of soils and effects of alternative practices on soil productivity
- Provide advice on rural or urban land use
- Perform chemical analysis on micro-organism content of soil to determine microbial reactions and chemical mineralogical relationship to plant growth
- Investigate responses of specific soil types to soil management practices, such as fertilization, crop rotation, and industrial waste control
- Conducts experiments on farms or experimental stations to determine best soil types for different plants
- Initiate and implement research & development programs for soil research
- Prepare documented proposals and successfully establish research trials
- Regularly communicate with relevant industry sectors and initiate well targeted research projects
- Meet the company requirements for trial planning and operation of research projects
- Manage trial establishment and collection of data
- Budget for research work and provide management reporting in regard to trial/research progress
What education and training is required?
A bachelor’s degree in chemistry, crop science, soil science, biology or a related field, such as horticulture, plant physiology or environmental science is required to become a soil chemist. There are some positions, especially those that are more research driven, that require a master’s or doctorate degree. Those degrees along with experience are needed for more administrative level positions in the field.
To pursue a career as a Soil Scientist:
The following high school courses are recommended:a focus on science (particularly earth science, chemistry, biology) and mathematics and physics.
Conservation organizations, and colleges or universities.
Future Job Market/Outlook:
With increased training and proven success, advancement opportunities are available for soil chemist will be good and opportunities will be increasing.
Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations:
- Soil Science Society of America
- National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants
- American Society of Agronomy
- Committee for Sustainable Agriculture
- Crop Science Society of America
- Weed Science Society of America
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- National Farmers Organization