Agricultural Production/Sustainable Agriculture

AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science, Certificate, Short Term Certificate

This program is designed to prepare students for various jobs in local agriculture, business, and industry.

Students learn skills in greenhouse and nursery operations, landscaping, seeding, transplanting and planting flowers, trees and shrubs, and grafting plants.

Graduates of this program will find career opportunities in a variety of businesses related to the agricultural field. The course content consists of basic studies, agriculture-related management and marketing, and technically-oriented agriculture courses.

Students may find jobs in areas such as landscaping, forestry, aquaculture operations, conservation, and farming. Other potential opportunities include managing or owning a farm, greenhouse or nursery. Work in this field is largely seasonal with spring and summer being the busiest times of the year. Agriculture and forestry attract people who enjoy working outdoors and living an independent lifestyle. For many, the wide-open physical expanse and the variability of day-to-day work provide benefits that offset the sometimes hard labor and the risks associated with unseasonable or extreme weather.

Agricultural managers manage the day-to-day activities of one or more farms, ranches, nurseries, timber tracts, greenhouses, and other agricultural establishments. These managers usually determine the best time to plant seed, apply fertilizer and chemicals, and harvest and market the crops.

Students enrolled in Sustainable Agriculture will expected to develop an understanding of the different aspects of sustainable agriculture as it relates to our society including soils, fertilizers and growing methods; demonstrate knowledge of sustainable agriculture techniques and skills through crop production which includes planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops; and create a marketing plan for the sale of produce including advertising, product display and pricing.

Sustainable agriculture allows individuals to grow fruits and vegetables organically, using high tunnel greenhouses to cultivate produce year round. For instance, instead of planting one garden a year, the high tunnel greenhouses can yield three gardens a year.

“Sustainable agriculture is more geared towards backyard, small scale operations. It’s growing fruits and vegetables using nothing but all-natural processes. It allows you to grow fresh vegetables you can sell and use almost year round,” said Wallace State’s Anthony Hilliard, department head of the college’s Agricultural Production/Horticulture program. “Sustainable agriculture is growing in popularity nationwide. I’m excited we’re getting ready to offer this to our students. I think it will be very worthwhile.”

According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the total and direct employment impact in food and kindred products manufacturing is approximately 146,000 jobs statewide. Among these jobs, Cullman County, the home county of Wallace State, ranks first in poultry and egg production and second in vegetable and melon farming. Also, one of every 4.6 jobs in Alabama is related to agriculture, forestry or a related industry.

With the sustainable agriculture program, Wallace State has new high tunnel greenhouses to cultivate fruits and vegetables year round. These high tunnel structures appear to be regular greenhouses, but the produce is grown directly from the soil, and the houses have no air conditioning or heat. Instead, shade cloths and windows effectively control the temperature. In addition, a hydroponics greenhouse and a fruit orchard have been added to campus. The hydroponics greenhouse allows plants to grow in a nutrient solution instead of from the soil.

Like other businesses, agriculture operations have become more complex in recent years, so many farmers use computers to keep financial and inventory records. They also use computer databases and spreadsheets to manage breeding, dairy, and other farm operations. The completion of a two-year or four-year degree program in a college of agriculture is becoming increasingly important for those interested in a career in agriculture.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for landscaping and groundskeeping workers are expected to increase by 12.4% from 2012 - 2022 due to an increased demand for landscaping services. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
View Gainful Employment Information for Agriculture Production

View Gainful Employment Information for the Agriculture Production Short Term Certificate

Anthony Hilliard, Department Head