...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play, and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

This week we will take a light look at the science of Agronomy.

Agronomy as a noun is the science of crop production and soil management. It the technology of using and producing plants for fuel, food, and land reclamation. (1)

It encompasses the areas of ecology, meteorology, soil science, economics, and plant physiology,

and is combined with other sciences such as genetics, biology, and earth science. (2)

One who practices Agronomy is known as an Agronomist.

An Agronomist is an agricultural scientist, a crop scientist, and this person must be competent in technological knowledge and be able to perform analysis on a variety of things.

Modern Agronomists tackle many serious issues, such as managing environmental impacts that agriculture has on farms, extracting energy sources from plants, and producing food for growing populations on the planet.

They specialize in plant physiology, soil fertility, drainage and irrigation, crop rotation, plant development and breeding, insect pest control and weed control. (3)

Agronomists use biotechnology to expedite development of desired plant qualities. While biotechnology is done in a laboratory, new crop varieties are tested out in the field, literally.

Crop yield increase is always a desired goal, but “Agronomic Biotechnology” is being used in methods other than food crop production. (4)

For example, “oilseed” crops derived from plants such as soybeans, safflower, or coconut, are used for cooking food oils or margarine.

However, these same crops are being modified to produce fatty acids, to be used for substitute petrochemicals and fuels, and also in detergents. (5)

Agronomists study and procure long-range ways to help make soils more sustainable, profitable, and productive.

Analyzing and classifying soils helps to determine whether they contain enough nutrients to support plant growth.

The nutrients include sulfur, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, potassium, and nitrogen, and these are gathered and analyzed.

Less common micro-nutrients such as boron or zinc are also researched, along with soil pH, organics present, and the capacity of the soil to hold nutrients. (6)

In soil conservation, Agronomists research methodology on the effects of erosion by wind and water.

They test these methods in an effort to decrease soil erosion.

Contour Plowing, invented in the 1930's, is an excellent example of agronomy in action.

The “New Deal” was a set of federal programs launched by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in an effort to off-set the destruction to the economy caused by the Great Depression, in the US.

FDR took office in 1933 and the New Deal lasted until the US entered WWII, in 1942.

Contour plowing conserves rain water and prevents soil erosion on steep slopes or gentle hills on farm land. (7)

Engineers do surveys to see the rise and fall of the landscape, and the farmer will plow along the sides of the slopes, in lengthy, curving contours that follow these shapes.

The planting of soil-binding grasses along field contours on steep slopes is another technique used for erosion control.

Agronomists researchers also study and test ways of disposing of livestock manure, pesticide build-up in soil, and also water pollution.

Theoretical plant modeling studies the growth of crops, where the plant is looked upon as a “biological factory.” (8)

Processes that the plant undertakes, such as water absorption, light intake through photo synthesis, and nutrient and carbon dioxide absorption, are observed and calculated.

The main factors taken into consideration are the amounts of sunlight, water, and nutrient supply, temperatures, plant production distribution, and standing crop biomass. (9)

The future of food production for the masses of humanity is in the hands of the science of Agronomy.

Organizations include the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Why, you yourself can be an amateur Agronomist when you plant your annual summer garden.

Have you noticed your bean plants have rust on them? Or your corn stalks are small and pinchy, the tomatoes have black spots?

When you research the causes of these plant problems, you are undertaking the science of Agronomy, by determining diseases or causes. such as fungus or nutrient deficiencies.

You can then take steps to eliminate the problems by applying fungicide, pest control, or adding nutrients, such as cow or horse manure to the soil; you are managing the production of your garden.

Agriculture is a very fascinating field of study, and agricultural labor is an excellent way to spend time.

Children who partake in Ag labor, such as cleaning stalls and barns, putting up hay, growing a vegetable garden, or having a roadside farm stand, selling sweet corn or pumpkins to make money, are the smartest, most capable children anywhere.

Joining FFA, or Future Farmers of America, is an excellent hobby and lends towards group participation efforts and Ag learning, as does joining a 4-H Club.

These kids are less likely to be cruel to animals or to mug little old ladies, and they develop strong work ethics and smart thinking.

Folks, I highly recommend all of the above, as I have done all of the above.

Why, my second-cutting hay is on the ground as I type, drying and waiting Tom Herman to come back to the field and ted it up.

The wonderful smell of freshly-mown hay is one of my favorites, and I enjoy the ag labor of putting the bales up in the barn.

It’s still summertime, the heat is on, and the sun is shining.

Leaving you to contemplate the wonders of the agricultural word, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1-9: Internet / Wikipedia