Definition Agronomy is the science of plant production for food, fuel, and fiber. The work of an agronomist encompasses plant genetics and physiology as well as meteorology and soil science. This video from USAID agency working in Uganda will give you an impression of some of the areas that an agronomist oversees.
In coffee-producing countries, agronomists operate in the field, working directly with coffee farmers and cooperatives. They are trained to monitor the terroir of a farming area. Through careful measurements, agronomists can advise farms on practical farm management, helping them achieve the correct levels of soil drainage and teaching them how to implement preventative measures against soil erosion. They can help farmers achieve a sustainable planting density and choose the right fertilisers, and they can offer advice on how to prune and manipulate their trees. Agronomists are the interface between the body of scientific research and the local terroir.
To better understand this important practice, we spoke to Guatemalan agronomist Anabella Meneses. Anabella is the owner of Santa Felisa Coffee, winner of the 2017 Guatemalan Cup of Excellence, and the founder of the Las Nubes Daycare.
Interview with Anabella Meneses
BH: We are hoping to understand more about the science of agronomy. When you are making decisions as to what to plant on your farm or you are advising others on what to plant, what measurements do you need to help you?
Anabella: We experiment with varieties that have not been planted at the farm. They are in a kind of Coffee Garden, where we have many varieties expressing their phenotype (meaning, how the plant adapts to the environmental conditions, and how it expresses itself in the cup profile). By now, we really like the behavior and taste of Red Bourbon, Yellow Catuai, Pacamara, Geishas, Rume Sudan, and SL28. All of them are yummy, per se, and we like how cup profile is expressed As a result, it takes years before we set it. For example, I know Pacamara and Yellow Catuai will not need too much shade,