Agricultural Scientist

Research and Development

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Nature or RecreationScientific or AnalyticSkill Level 5

Agricultural scientists study farm animals, crops and factors affecting farm production, to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farms and related agricultural enterprises. They collect and analyse Future Growth Strong samples of produce, feed, soil, water and other elements that may be affecting agricultural production. They also study the effects of different farming techniques, associated pests and diseases and environmental conditions that may be affecting production. This data can be used to develop more efficient techniques for solving agricultural problems, such as drought or pest infestation. Agricultural scientists try to maintain a balance between the economic requirements of farmers and environmental conservation and management concerns.


ANZSCO description: Studies commercial plants, animals and cultivation techniques to enhance the productivity of farms and agricultural industries.

Alternative names: Farming Scientist, Horticulture Scientist

Specialisations: Agricultural Biotechnologist, Agricultural Entomologist, Agricultural Microbiologist, Agronomist, Animal Scientist, Soil Scientist

Agricultural scientists who specialise in the wine industry deal with the research and production of wines and the microbiology and chemistry of winemaking.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

An agricultural scientist needs:Agricultural Scientist

  • good communication skills
  • the ability to analyse and solve problems
  • the ability to make accurate and detailed observations
  • patience
  • an interest in agriculture and the environment
  • an understanding of business principles
  • able to analyse and solve problems
  • interested in science and the environment
  • able to make accurate observations
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • well organised with supervisory ability
  • able to work as part of a team.

Duties and Tasks

Agricultural scientists may perform the following tasks: Agronomist

  • collect and analyse data and samples of produce, feed, soil and other factors affecting production
  • advise farmers and farm managers on techniques for improving the production of crops and livestock
  • advise farmers on issues such as livestock and crop disease, control of pests and weeds, soil improvement, animal husbandry and feeding programs
  • study environmental factors affecting commercial crop production, pasture growth and animal breeding
  • study the effects of cultivation techniques, soils, insects and plant diseases on animal and crop production
  • develop procedures and techniques for solving agricultural problems and improving the efficiency of production.

Working conditions

Agricultural scientists may work in laboratories, in offices, in the field or in a combination of these. Some work alone but most work as members of a team alongside other scientists, farmers and other people involved in providing services to the agricultural industry. Agricultural scientists generally divide their time between carrying out field work at farms and nurseries and working in offices, laboratories and/or glasshouses. When conducting field work they usually work outside in a wide range of weather conditions, depending on the time of year and location of the farm.  Their hours of work can vary considerably, depending on the type of work being carried out. Most office and laboratory work is performed during regular business hours, while field work often involves early mornings and may also require weekend work.

Tools and technologies

Agricultural scientists use a range of specialised scientific equipment, both to collect and preserve samples in the field, and analyse them in the laboratory. This may include simple equipment such as test tubes, sample jars and microscopes, as well as more advanced machinery used to prepare and analyse samples. Agricultural scientists may come into regular contact with various chemicals, which can be potentially harmful if appropriate safety precautions are not followed. This includes wearing protective clothing such as gloves, safety glasses and lab coats. Some agricultural scientists may also operate farm equipment, such as tractors, when conducting field work.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an agricultural scientist you usually need to complete a degree in agribusiness or a science degree with a major in agricultural science or a related field.

Did You Know?

Australian Land Use

According to this dataset, in 2005-06 the total area of land under primary production (livestock grazing, dryland and
irrigated agriculture) was nearly 4.6 million square kilometres or 59% of the continent. The dominant land use is
livestock grazing which makes up 56% (or 4.3 million square kilometres) of land uses.
(Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry)
 


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An agricultural biotechnologist uses techniques such as genetic engineering to improve the quality and diversity of plant and animal products.

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An agricultural entomologist investigates the causes of insect outbreaks and researches methods to control them through integrated pest management, biological control and chemical means.

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An agricultural microbiologist is involved in the identification and control of disease organisms, often working in specialised areas, such as food technology and environmental management.

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An agronomist is an expert in agricultural practices with the aim to increase crop yield and farming profits. This may include specialist positions in research, extension and advice, sales, crop nutrition, soils and farming sustainability.

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An animal scientist conducts experiments in controlled breeding or in embryo manipulation. They investigate the nutritional values of different feeds and the environmental conditions necessary to improve the quality of animal produce.

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A crop physiologist studies the mechanisms of normal plant growth and the effects of environmental conditions and chemicals upon them.
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A horticultural scientist applies scientific knowledge to the cultivation and propagation of plants such as fruit, vegetables, berries, flowers, trees, shrubs and crops. They may also work in landscape design to create parks and gardens, with concern for the conservation and preservation of natural resources.

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A soil scientist studies the biology, chemistry, physics and hydrology of soil systems, and conducts research and advises on matters relating to conservation and management.

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