Location: Soil and Water Management ResearchTitle: Does it matter what we call it?
Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2018
Publication Date: 4/19/2018
Citation: Evett, S.R. 2018. Does it matter what we call it?. CSA News. 63(4):16-17. https://doi.org/10.2134/csa2018.63.0415.
Interpretive Summary: The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) is a scientific and technical society with members from every state in the US, and from many other countries. Many members are scientists and engineers involved in research and development of improved agronomic methods that reduce waste and cost, make more efficient use of agricultural inputs, defeat pests and diseases, improve harvesting methods, improve water quality and increase farm profitability. In addition to more than 8,000 scientists and engineers employed by federal, state and private industry, the society includes several thousand crop advisors and farm managers who put into practice the engineering and scientific advances and feed back to the scientific community the relative success or need for improvement of new methods, products and approaches. The Society and its membership play strong roles in promoting all five key indicators of rural prosperity listed by the Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, but particularly the last two: Harnessing Technological Innovation, and Economic Development. Rapid change in the way agriculture gets done and the economic environment in which it operates is changing the nature of work in agronomy and the names we use to describe the expertise needed in the new agronomy of the 21st century. In the face of change, ASA invites new perspectives, new initiatives and the new names that come with them.
Technical Abstract: Agronomy, soil science, plant science, crop science, agricultural science, computer science, environmental science, environmental engineering, agricultural and irrigation engineering, hydrology, meteorology – all are names that describe fields of study relevant to agriculture and the environment in which it is practiced. But do they define the expertise of an individual? What happens if university departments of soil science disappear – does soil science disappear? If a Department of Agronomy is renamed a Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, does agronomic science disappear? Just how exercised should we get over names and name changes? Rapid change in the way agriculture gets done and the economic environment in which it operates is changing the nature of work in agronomy and the names we use to describe the expertise needed in the new agronomy of the 21st century. Where we once required a soil scientist we may now require an environmental scientist with much the same training, but with a different focus and name. Where we once required a field agronomist, we may now require an expert in spatial agronomy, knowing where, when and how much to till (if at all), plant, fertilize, water, weed, etc. Recognition of the rapid changes in agronomic science and employment was a motivating factor in ASA’s change to a Community structure based on seven Sections. The now 47 communities have names as varied as are the concerns of today’s agronomists – from Spatial Statistics and On-Farm Research to Crop Irrigation Strategies and Management, and from Airborne and Satellite Remote Sensing to Sensor-based Irrigation Management. These names represent an unprecedented range of specialization, ranging from crop to soil and to water management in regional (Solar Corridor Crop System), environment-specific (Semi-arid Dryland Cropping Systems) and global environments (7 communities in the Global Agronomy Section). In the face of change, ASA invites new perspectives, new initiatives and the new names that come with them. Join your voice in naming the future of agronomy.