Soil and Plant Scientists

Description

Conduct 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 study 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.

Tasks

  • Identify or classify species of insects or allied forms, such as mites or spiders.
  • Develop improved measurement techniques, soil conservation methods, soil sampling devices, or related technology.
  • Consult with engineers or other technical personnel working on construction projects about the effects of soil problems and possible solutions to these problems.
  • Investigate soil problems and poor water quality to determine sources and effects.
  • Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Conduct 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.
  • Develop ways of altering soils to suit different types of plants.
  • Conduct experiments regarding causes of bee diseases or factors affecting yields of nectar or pollen.
  • Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
  • Develop methods of conserving or managing soil that can be applied by farmers or forestry companies.
  • Study soil characteristics to classify soils on the basis of factors such as geographic location, landscape position, or soil properties.
  • Provide 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.
  • Conduct research to determine best methods of planting, spraying, cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, or transporting horticultural products.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the use capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.
  • Identify degraded or contaminated soils and develop plans to improve their chemical, biological, or physical characteristics.
  • Plan or supervise waste management programs for composting or farming.
  • Survey undisturbed or disturbed lands for classification, inventory, mapping, environmental impact assessments, environmental protection planning, conservation planning, or reclamation planning.
  • Study insect distribution or habitat and recommend methods to prevent importation or spread of injurious species.
  • Conduct experiments investigating how soil forms, changes, or interacts with land-based ecosystems or living organisms.
  • Provide advice regarding the development of regulatory standards for land reclamation or soil conservation.
  • Plan or supervise land conservation or reclamation programs for industrial development projects.
  • Perform chemical analyses of the microorganism content of soils to determine microbial reactions or chemical mineralogical relationships to plant growth.
  • Conduct research into the use of plant species as green fuels or in the production of green fuels.
  • Develop environmentally safe methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Investigate responses of soils to specific management practices to determine the effects of alternative practices on the environment.
  • Research technical requirements or environmental impacts of urban green spaces, such as green roof installations.
  • Study ways to improve agricultural sustainability, such as the use of new methods of composting.

Knowledge

Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Abilities

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Originality
The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Category Flexibility
The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Fluency of Ideas
The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Work Activities

Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

Work Context

Electronic Mail
How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
Telephone
How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
Face-to-Face Discussions
How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate
How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
Freedom to Make Decisions
How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
Structured versus Unstructured Work
To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled
How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
Letters and Memos
How often does the job require written letters and memos?
Contact With Others
How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
Work With Work Group or Team
How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Interests

Investigative
Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Realistic
Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Artistic
Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
Social
Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
Conventional
Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Enterprising
Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Work Style

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Achievement/Effort
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Innovation
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

Achievement
Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Independence
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Recognition
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
Working Conditions
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Relationships
Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
Support
Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Lay Titles

Agronomist
Agronomy Professor
Agronomy Research Manager
Apiculturist
Arboriculturist
Arborist
Botanist
Corn Breeder
Cotton Breeder
Crop and Soil Science Department Chair
Crop Nutrition Scientist
Entomologist
Floriculturist
Genetic Scientist
Horticulture Professor
Horticulturist
Hybrid Corn Breeder
Hydrology Professor
Microbiology Soil Scientist
Physical Hydrologist
Plant Anatomist
Plant Breeder
Plant Breeder Scientist
Plant Pathologist
Plant Physiologist
Pomologist
Research Soil Scientist
Scientist Propagator
Soil Expert
Soil Fertility Extension Specialist
Soil Physical Chemistry Professor
Soil Physics Professor
Soil Science Professor
Soil Scientist
Soil Specialist
Viticulturist

National Wages and Employment Info

Median Wages (2008):
$28.24 hourly, $58,740 annual.
Employment (2008):
12,410 employees