Agronomy - Term Overview

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Agronomy or agronomic engineering is a science composed of a set of knowledge articulated around the practice of agriculture. It seeks to improve the various agricultural and food production processes through technology. For this, it includes the set of physical, chemical, biological, economic and social factors that govern agriculture.

Agronomy includes agricultural production as the framework of an agroecosystem, that is, a specific form of human intervention in the natural processes of plant germination, growth and reproduction, to obtain food and raw materials.

In this agroecosystem physical factors intervene, such as soil, climate or the availability of water, but also biological factors, such as the presence of pests, competition between cultivated species, among others. It's the task of agronomy to understand these factors and to use them for agricultural improvement.

In addition, since agriculture and livestock aren't formal sciences, but applied, agronomy constitutes the opportunity to systematize and organize this knowledge and knowledge from a scientific, academic, verifiable perspective.

History of agronomy

Agriculture and the set of knowledge around it aren't exactly new in human history, but have been given gradually and practically since agricultural activity emerged in the Neolithic Revolution approximately ten thousand years ago.

Despite this, agriculture as a field of formally constituted knowledge, that is, agronomy, emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and the United States, under the idea of ​​applying the new scientific-technological knowledge that began to flourish in those epochs.

Its objective was to induce an improvement in the levels of agricultural food production, improving the standard of living of rural populations and guaranteeing food to a group of rapidly growing nations.

Thus, the nascent industrial society was able to bring its practices and knowledge to the field, providing new agricultural technology, new instruments and specialized professionals in the area. One of the first and most prestigious schools of agronomy in Europe was created in 1855 in the capital of Spain, and is the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos de Madrid.

Importance of agronomy

The changes that agronomy introduced in agricultural production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were surprising, and key to the agricultural renewal that accompanied the industrialization of the so-called First World.

The maximization of the productive possibilities of the field allowed to sustain a growing world population. Therefore, knowledge of agronomy is essential for agricultural countries, such as the raw material exporting nations of the so-called Third World.

Branches of agronomy

Agronomy comprises various branches, each of which constitutes the application of certain knowledge to a specific aspect of agricultural work. The main ones are:

  • Agrotechnics: Discipline focused on the study of the ways of sowing and agriculture, that is, of agricultural techniques and the ways in which they can be improved, especially through the incorporation of technology.
  • Phytopathology: This is the name given to the science of study and control of diseases suffered by plants, especially those that are part of the agricultural production of a country or region.
  • Agricultural economics: Combination of agronomy with economics, is dedicated to the study of the specificities of the agricultural sector within the productive schemes of a nation.
  • Plant breeding: Discipline that addresses the methods of genetic combinatorics, artificial selection and human intervention in the production of plant species that are more suitable for agricultural work, either because they produce more and better food, or because they better resist adverse environmental conditions.

Auxiliary Sciences of Agronomy

Agronomy support shared with many other scientific disciplines knowledge, as are the biology, the chemistry, geochemistry, microbiology or botany, to understand the natural factors (physical or organic) that determine agricultural work.

At the same time it relies on the various engineering firms to design new tools, methods or systems that take advantage of that knowledge. In addition, the economics, the administration and other social sciences also play their part in shaping agronomy, and dealing with the human side of all agricultural process.

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