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Farmer tills the landAgronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation.  NRCS uses agronomy as one of the ways we “Help People Help the Land.”  Through the application of this science and technology NRCS conservationists help landowners implement conservation practices to address resource concerns.

As the population of the world increases and the demand for food, fuel, and fiber increases the importance of protecting our resources is apparent.  In the future, producers will need to increase production on a shrinking number of acres while continuing to protect Pennsylvania's valuable resources.

In Pennsylvania, the major resource concerns facing producers are: (1) erosion by water, (2) maintaining and enhancing soil health, and (3) maintaining and enhancing water quality by reducing the risk of nutrient and pesticide runoff and leaching.

By focusing on soil health, Pennsylvania producers will see increased production while increasing the level of protection of the resources.  Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops, productive grazing lands, and beautiful landscapes. More farmers are managing for soil health by disturbing their soil as little as possible, growing as many different species of plants as practical, keeping living plants in the soil as often as possible, and keeping the soil covered constantly.  Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish.


Agronomy Resources

  • National Agronomy Manual (PDF, 2.5 MB)
    The National Agronomy Manual contains policy for agronomy activities and provides technical procedures for uniform implementation of agronomy tools and applications.
  • Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions aim to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and to protect wetlands for the multiple benefits they provide. HELC and WC provisions apply to all land that is considered highly erodible or a wetland, and that is owned or farmed by persons voluntarily participating in USDA programs, unless USDA determines an exemption applies.

Plant Materials Centers
Plant Materials Centers (PMC's), based in ecologically distinct service areas, work with Plant Materials Specialists to seek out and test plants and plant technologies that restore and sustain healthy natural ecosystems; conserve and enhance critical wildlife habitat; mitigate diverse environmental and natural resource concerns; provide economic and socially acceptable solutions; and support a safer human environment. PMCs evaluate plants for conservation traits and make these materials available to commercial growers who provide plant materials to the public. Centers also develop innovative techniques for land managers to use in managing a variety of conservation plants.


Pennsylvania Agronomist:

Mark Goodson
(717) 237-2146

Last updated: June 2020