This special issue brings together a selection of papers that not merely present agronomic research findings, but critically review orientations, methodologies and research practices in agronomy. The focus is on agronomic research as it conducted as component of rural development efforts in the global South or, in short, development-oriented agronomy. Aiming to contribute to development challenges like food security, human welfare and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability, a focus on development-oriented agronomy implies a step beyond a narrow understanding of agronomy as the science of crop production and soil management. Doing development-oriented agronomy forefronts the juggling with productivity enhancing, environmental and social developmental goals entailed when doing agronomy. What is more, development-oriented agronomy generally takes place within a complex environment of (inter)national research and development policy organisations, development donor-funded projects, governmental, NGO and private sector agencies and global professional networks and (public-private) partnerships. Consequently, development-oriented agronomy is a field where debate and contestations over goals and direction, research methodologies and findings of agronomic research are first likely to emerge and become apparent.