Crop Production Degree

A New UA Degree Program
Kurt Nolte and Tanya Hodges, University of Arizona

The University of Arizona in Yuma began a locally dedicated academic agriculture program in 1994 consisting of agricultural business and production courses leading towards a bachelor's of science degree in Agricultural Systems Management. The degree program is a collaborative effort among prominent faculty at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona Western College and prepares students for employment in the agricultural and business industries.
As part of a proud tradition of providing academic opportunities in agriculture for students in the southwest, the University of Arizona, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, has recently developed a new degree program in Crop Production. Newly approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, the major is an integrative and applied program that cuts across two departments, Plant Sciences and Soil, Water & Environmental Sciences. By consolidating efforts into a single degree offering, the flexible program provides a specific and focused curriculum in either agronomy or turf science. Having a strong foundation within the sciences, the major combines a balance of crop and soil science courses into a program that launches graduates into an increasingly technical job market.
For Yuma students, the new degree program is being offered as a 2+1+1 academic major with 2 years invested in earning an AA Agricultural Science degree at Arizona Western College, 1 year at UA-Yuma and 1 year at the UA main campus, in Tucson. The year in Yuma provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the actual management of pests/diseases, the cultural or technical aspects of production and gain valuable experience in one of the premier winter vegetable production areas in the world. With the entire Yuma agriculture faculty available for instruction, the University of Arizona in Yuma will impact student learning from a collection of world renowned instructors and scientists, each covering a variety of agriculturally related topic areas.

It is anticipated that this program will enable the UA to compete with other institutions, such as those in California and New Mexico, since many southwest agricultural employers want this program and can place students who go through this program within their industry.

Dr. Jeff Silvertooth, a key collaborator in the development of the program, made note last month at a UA preseason vegetable workshop that J.T. Boswell Company, a large farming/land/water holding company in California and Australia, donated a $30K grant recently to begin recruitment, advertising and further development of the program. Students from schools such as the UC system, Fresno State, New Mexico State, etc. are becoming fewer and farther between, so increasing the number of students benefits the industry as a whole. Similarly, the Arizona Vegetable Growers Association donated $10K to an endowment that will be used to support scholarships in this program. The Arizona Crop Protection Association’s and the Yuma County Ag Producers scholarship programs are is also available to future and current students.

The new degree program is unique in Arizona. NAU and ASU do not offer similar programs and could be a reason why good students leave the state for a degree in production agriculture. A degree in Crop Production from the University of Arizona provides the competitive edge for those interested in a future in production agriculture. For more information call the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences at (520) 621-1646 (Tom Wilson) or the Department of Plant Science at (520) 621-1582 (Elizabeth Davison). Students can also contact Tanya Hodges, the UA-Yuma Academic Program Coordinator, at (928) 271-9560.