Skip to content

Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration Major Guide for 2012-2013

What is Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

The Agricultural Systems Technology (AST) Concentration emphasizes the skills needed to manage the sophisticated technological systems that are increasingly essential to modern agricultural production. Since many human activities can adversely impact soil, water, and environmental quality, this BS degree in Environmental and Soil Sciences provides students with a strong grounding in basic sciences and technology to prepare them for careers in environmental and natural resource management. Students in this program also study a broad curriculum of physical and environmental sciences (botany, chemistry, physics, soil and crop sciences), as well as applied areas such as ecology, nutrient and weed management, and natural resource policy. Students build expertise with the latest agricultural technologies and equipment, such as geographical information systems, computer applications in natural resource management, global positioning systems, precision agriculture, chemical application, automation, computer-aided design, and environmental instrumentation. Finally, they are given a solid business and management foundation including technical writing, presentation skills, statistics, accounting, and economics.

Career Opportunities in Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

Graduates will have the skills and knowledge to be successful in agribusiness, agricultural production, automated production systems, nursery management, environmental and agricultural consulting, turf management, or employment with agricultural equipment and material suppliers. Potential careers include: agricultural consultants assisting agribusinesses or farmers to increase their profitability or to help their operation grow; technology specialists helping commercial producers integrate new technologies, private consulting in environmental and agricultural areas; technical sales and service representatives; entrepreneurs developing new products or services, and specialists working with non-governmental organizations with interests in agriculture, the environment and natural resources.  Employment as a farm or ranch manager, whether self-employed, as part of a family operation, or in a joint venture with others, is also an attractive option.

Salary Trends in Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

Statistics suggest that market pressures will continue to cause farm consolidation, reducing the number of jobs for farmers and ranchers, but increasing employment of agricultural managers, consultants, and equipment experts.  In addition, as equipment becomes more sophisticated, machinery companies are looking for employees that understand the science and technology behind that sophistication.  Agricultural consultants may expect initial salaries in the mid $30,000 range.  Additional examples of median incomes from a recent report include farm managers, $28,000; sales representatives for machinery and equipment, $43,000; and federal rangeland managers, $51,000.

High School Preparation

Successful AST students typically have a strong high school background in science, particularly biology and chemistry.  Good communication abilities (written and verbal) and experience with computers are also very helpful. A strong background in these areas will enable you to more easily begin your college work.  Also, if you are able to earn advanced placement credit in some of these areas, you may have additional options later in your degree program.  These could include taking specialized courses that interest you, working in a lab, or contributing to a research project — providing valuable experience and improving your employment opportunities. Freshman admission to the program follows the general requirements of the University.  Admission chances are enhanced by high ACT/SAT scores and a solid high school transcript.

Transfer Student Preparation

The transfer students that do best in AST have a strong background in the sciences and mathematics.  Good communication abilities (written and verbal) and experience with computers are also very helpful.  General courses in agriculture, technology, business, and management will also provide a good foundation for building towards the student’s particular area of interest.

How to Major in Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

The Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration in the Environmental and Soil Sciences program is part of the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department.  Our faculty and students enjoy talking with prospective students.  A faculty member (or a student, if you prefer) will guide you through our labs and answer your questions about the department. It is important to choose your desired concentration early (preferably at or before enrollment), to avoid having to make up specific required courses.  Each concentration has provisions for elective courses to be taken in specific subject areas.  Students consult with their advisors each semester about their interests and the appropriate classes to meet the students’ needs.

Requirements for Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

The program starts with a basic science foundation, adds courses in crop production, pest control, and protection of soil and water resources, then introduces the technologies and control systems available to make production more efficient and environmentally sound.  It rounds out the curriculum with analysis and management courses (with a particular emphasis on economics) to tie all the information together and to most effectively use it in making and carrying out management decisions. Directed technical electives allow the student to concentrate in a particular area of agricultural production, or to develop improved skills with particular technologies or management tools. This broad curriculum also includes several social science electives and the composition, technical writing, and speech skills to enable the graduate to communicate effectively.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

An internship is a structured 10-12 week work session, usually in the summer, in which you apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-life problems, while being mentored by a trained professional. Students are employed in paid full-time positions by industry, business, and government organizations, providing students with valuable experience and a competitive salary. The Agricultural Systems Technology program encourages all students to intern while in college. Can you see yourself developing systems to produce biofuels, testing new equipment for Case New Holland, or monitoring irrigation systems in Colorado?

Highlights of Environmental and Soil Science – Agricultural Systems Technology Concentration

Here are some additional reasons to consider Agricultural Systems Technology at UT:

  • An excellent student:professor ratio. This means more one-to-one time with professors for academic counseling and assistance with coursework. Graduates consistently rank our outstanding, caring faculty as one of the strengths of our department.
  • An award-winning tradition — both in national design competitions and in interdisciplinary UT engineering events.
  • Training in delivering presentations — through seminars, poster sessions, papers, and attendance at professional meetings.
  • Excellent scholarship support — Our students are eligible for scholarship money from both the University and the College.
  • An active student engineering club with extensive activities.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

In addition to providing its graduates with a skill set that is needed around the world, this program takes an international perspective in both its research and educational missions.  Departmental researchers have recently worked in or cooperated with researchers from countries ranging from Australia to Zambia, with countries in-between including Taiwan, Vietnam, Brazil, Ecuador, and many others.  Students have spent semesters abroad in countries from Sweden to Malta to South Africa, and have traveled with College trips to Thailand, Mexico, and Jamaica.  Finally, our student body includes students from Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, China, Colombia, and other countries.  The Center for International Education is the clearinghouse for the many possibilities UT offers it students in making themselves ready for the world.  CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs.  Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall.  Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.  Agricultural Systems Technology is not only ready for the world; it sees its mission as meeting needs throughout the world.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
General Botany 8
General Chemistry 8
Mathematics 6
English Composition 6
General education elective 3
Critical Courses: Math 151-152, Chemistr 120-130
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Accounting 3
Speech 3
Computer applications 3
Economics 4
Physics 3
General education electives 6
Agribusiness 3
Intro soil science 4
Statistics 3
Critical Courses: AREC 201 or ECON 201, AREC 212, ESS 210, Physics 221
Junior Year Credit Hours
Ag. economics 3
Surveying 3
Plant pathology 3
Soil nutrient management 3
Weed management 3
Technical writing 3
Entomology 3
Soil and water conservation 3
General education elective 3
Critical Courses: BsET 326 and 412, ESS 324 and 334
Senior Year Credit Hours
Technical electives 9
Ag. finance 3
Production monitoring & automation 3
Environ. instrum. & monitoring 3
General education elective 3
Ag. machinery & tractors 3
Ag. chemical application technology 3
Critical Courses: BsET 414, 432, 434, and 462

For More Information

Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science
University of Tennessee
2506 E.J. Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4531
Phone: (865) 974-7266, 974-7237


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

Report an accessibility barrier