Careers in Crop and Soil Science

Crop and soil scientists use their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for science to help solve some of the toughest problems facing humanity: producing sufficient and affordable food for an increasing population and doing it in a way that protects and preserves our environment. Crop and soil scientists are also involved in protecting soil and water resources and preventing surface water and groundwater pollution.

Many professional crop and soil scientists work closely with farmers, providing information and recommendations to help solve crop and soil related problems, develop nutrient management and soil conservation plans, and design integrated pest management strategies. In all cases crop and soil scientists strive to make agriculture efficient, environmentally sound, profitable, and sustainable for future generations.

Alumni Spotlight

Meet some of our Crop and Soil graduates and find out what they're doing today...

Meet Jason!

Jason Cavadini Crops Alumni ProfileJason Cavadini 

Agronomist/Assistant Superintendent
University of Wisconsin-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station

Hometown: La Crosse, WI
B.S. Crop & Soil Science (May 2011)

When I decided to transfer to UW-River Falls to complete a Bachelor's Degree, I had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish after spending several years in the workforce. I appreciated the fact that my advisor was more than willing to spend time ensuring that I receive proper credit for my previous courses at a technical college.

My education at UWRF was unique in that it provided a good mix of classroom, hands-on, and professional experiences. I developed leadership skills as an officer in the Crops and Soils Club and attended professional meetings where I presented research and developed the professional relationships that have been so crucial to my success today. In addition, I was a member of the Soils Judging Team, and took advantage of opportunities to travel across the country to evaluate soils in a manner similar to professional soil scientists. With the guidance of my advisors, I also gained experience in undergraduate research, which set me apart from other students. By graduation, I had accumulated a unique set of experiences, and because of this, I was well-prepared and highly recruited by graduate programs.

After UWRF I went on to pursue a Master's Degree in Agronomy at Purdue University where my studies were focused on soil conservation and cover crops. The educational background that I took with me from UWRF proved to be more than adequate time and again throughout my graduate education. Today I am the agronomist and assistant superintendent of the UW-Madison Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. In this position I manage over 1,000 acres of crop production for the research dairy herd, and support the research needs of UW and USDA scientists in over 50 different field research trials. I am certain that my past and future successes are due in a large part to the solid foundation that UWRF provided to me.

Meet Betsy!

Betsy Oehlke, Crop and Soil AlumnaBetsy Oehlke

Soil Scientist
USDA-NRCS, Baxter, MN

Home: Glenwood City, WI
B.S. Crop and Soil Science, Conservation Minor (Dec. 2010)

As a Soil Scientist for the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), I spend much of my time working outdoors, independently, documenting and collecting information about soils found across the landscape. The information that I document is then used for agricultural purposes, land use planning, environmental planning, silviculture and many other fields. 

When I’m not working outside, I educate landowners and businesses about the importance and function of soils and how soils play a role in their life or their job. I also do a lot of work with data entry; the information I obtain from my documentation gets entered into a national database. That information ultimately ends up on WebSoilSurvey, where a person can find soil information for any location within the United States.

I am very proud to say that I am an alumna of CAFES. The professors and courses fully prepared me for a career doing what I love. Every professor was willing to set aside time to help me with my goals. I was also very involved with the Crops and Soils Club, which helped me build my networking skills and allowed me to talk to people in my industry to determine what career I really wanted to pursue.  I will always be grateful for my professors and CAFES for helping me shape a future in a career I love.

Students majoring in crop and soil science at UWRF
receive career training for:

  • crop production
  • soil and water conservation
  • plant breeding and genetics
  • wetlands use and protection
  • sustainable agriculture
  • weed control and integrated pest management
  • soil fertility
  • crop physiology
  • environmental protection
  • alternative energy resources
  • biotechnology
  • GPS/GIS

Our graduates go on to work for a variety of reputable organizations. Here are just a few:

  • Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. 
  • Agriliance  
  • USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service 
  • Hwy Ag Services 
  • Syngenta Seeds, Inc