The world will always need farmers. And it will always need people who sell ag equipment and inputs and who provide marketing and other expertise to farmers. (I’d like to think ag journalists will always be needed, too.)
But the folks with the most secure job in modern ag, or so it seems to me, are almost certainly weed scientists.
Weeds are the ultimate survivors. They’re constantly adapting, always evolving to to thwart farmers’ best efforts to control them. What works today to control a weed won’t work for long. That’s bad for farmers, but great for weed scientists’ job security.
I’m finishing up my May 29 Agweek cover on Palmer amaranth, a dangerous and destructive weed that’s invading Agweek country. In researching the story, I’ve visited with a half-dozen weed scientists — from Mississippi cotton country to the Upper Midwest — and they all mention Palmer amaranth’s incredible ability to adapt and compete successfully against crops.
The weed in the image above is leafy spurge, which we battled, especially in pastures, on my family farm in North Dakota. It’s still the weed I hate most personally. But I can see Palmer zooming up to become a close second behind it.
Well, we’ll never eradicate leafy spurge or Palmer or any other weed, for that matter.
Weeds will always be with us. So will the scientists who specialize in them.