Though many agricultural workers who work directly on a farm or ranch learn their skills through on-the-job training, undergraduate agriculture education programs can prepare students for more advanced positions, such as agricultural and food science technicians. These programs in the agriculture field of study can include internships that provide hands-on training and often have a high concentration of farming college courses that focus on the biological sciences. Careers in management or as agricultural scientists require more specialized training that is usually found in graduate-level programs, such as a Master in Agriculture Science. These programs often include lab work and focus on original research.
Here is an outline of common concepts taught in agriculture courses:
- Agricultural Science
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Agriculture Education
- Agricultural Resource Management
A natural resources course covers topics pertaining to forestry, soils, and wildlife. Students learn about power sources, such as electric motors and combustion engines, as well as government regulations and programs that relate to natural resource conservation. Natural resource courses also address the effects that current power sources have on the agriculture industry and what it means for the future of natural resources and power.
Horticulture is a science that studies plants, gardening, and natural growth. This course helps students develop skills in controlling plant growth and development. Specific topics of study may include plant production, pruning, regulations of plant growth, and storage processes. Horticulture courses may also cover marketing concepts related to the field.
Depending on the focus of the agriculture program, animal science classes may focus on all animals or be specific to horses, cows, and other farm animals. Students learn about animal development from a biological standpoint. Specific topics in animal products, animal feeding, and animal breeding are also covered. During an animal science course, students learn the history of the animal industry, animal disease, and current trends in animal rearing.
Soils and Pesticides
Agriculture students learn about soils and pesticides to understand the chemical makeup and effect that these elements have on crop growth. A soils and pesticides course covers conservation of water and soil, fertilizer use, and soil formation. It is a course that is delivered in lecture and lab format so that students may apply their skills to live scenarios. This course may also cover soil types specific to the state in which the agriculture program is taught.
Whether providing crop or animal food, farmers and others in the agriculture business need a strong understanding of U.S. food systems and processes. Students in this course study the U.S. food system as it relates to the current economy, health factors, and regulatory laws. Specific topics of study may include political systems, health, environment, food retailing, and international food regulations.
Online Agriculture Courses
Although certain aspects of agriculture education require hands-on experience, there are areas of study that can be done online. Online courses for various types of agricultural degrees may include agribusiness, horticulture, and some of the scientific foundations required. An online diploma in agriculture program may be available, as well.