Agricultural Scientist

Research and Development

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Agricultural Technical Officer

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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 ID & Description: 234112: Studies commercial plants, animals and cultivation techniques to enhance the productivity of farms and agricultural industries.

Alternative names: Farming Scientist, Horticulture Scientist

Specialisations:

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)
 


Agricultural Technical Officer
Research and Development

Practical or MechanicalClerical or OrganisingNature or RecreationAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 4Skill Level 5

Agricultural technicians provide technical support to assist agricultural scientists in studying farm animals, crops and factors affecting farm production, to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farms and related agricultural enterprises. Future Growth Static

They collect and analyse samples of produce, feed, soil, water and other elements that may be affecting agricultural production. Agricultural technicians support the study 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 technical officers provide complex technical support and advise on aspects of agriculture such as research, production, servicing and marketing. Agricultural technical officers may work in laboratories, in the field or both. They usually work in a team with other scientists.

ANZSCO ID: 3111

Alternative names: Agricultural  Technician

Specialisations:

  • Agriculture Laboratory Technician,

  • Dairy Technician,

  • Field Crop Technical Officer,

  • Herd Tester,

  • Artificial Insemination Technical Officer - uses artificial insemination techniques and controlled breeding experiments to develop improved livestock and herd strains

  • Horticultural Technical Officer - works on new methods of planting, fertilising, harvesting, processing and transporting crops, including fruit, vegetables, flowers and ornamental nursery crops.

  • Poultry Technical Officer - is involved in the production, management, processing and marketing of eggs, chickens, turkeys and game birds, including breeding and disease control.



Knowledge, skills and attributes   

  • good at science

  • able to analyse and solve problems

  • enjoy agriculture and the environment

  • able to make accurate observations and recordings

  • able to work as part of a team

  • enjoy working outdoors       

Agricultural Technician
(Source: Seek)

Duties and Tasks

Agricultural technical officers may perform the following tasks:

  • work with agricultural scientists using small plot experiments to compare plant varieties and test the effects of various treatments on growth and yield

  • work with soil scientists to study irrigation techniques and analyse plants used in soil treatment experiments

  • work with plant breeders to produce new strains and select superior products

  • work with animal breeders using artificial insemination techniques to produce offspring that mature earlier

  • record and interpret experimental data in field experiments, research, or animal care

  • interpret aerial photographs and prepare maps showing soil and vegetation patterns

  • assist in the chemical analysis and laboratory culture of microorganisms that cause diseases in plants and animals

  • measure or weigh ingredients used in laboratory testing

  • collate and prepare data summaries, reports, or analysis that includes charts or graphs to show research findings and results

  • assemble laboratory or field equipment when needed for experiments or testing

  • examining topographical, physical and soil characteristics of farmland to determine its most effective use and identify nutrient deficiencies

  • assisting in developing new methods of planting, fertilising, harvesting and processing crops to achieve optimum land usage

  • identifying pathogenic micro-organisms and insects, parasites, fungi and weeds harmful to crops and livestock, and assisting in devising methods of control

  • analysing produce to set and maintain standards of quality

  • inspecting livestock to gauge the effectiveness of feed formulae

  • assisting in controlled breeding experiments to develop improved crop and livestock strains

  • arranging the supply of drugs, vaccines and other chemicals to Farmers and Farm Managers, and giving advice on their use

  • collecting and collating data for research

  • planning slaughtering, harvesting and other aspects of production processes

  • may advise producers on farming techniques and management

  • ready samples for analysis, following appropriate procedures to ensure that they are stored, prepared, and disposed of properly

  • carry out research and provide advice about various technical issues

Technical Officer
Department of Agriculture and Food technical officer Martin Harris (left) and Elders agronomist
and Yuna farmer Belinda Eastough, examine a trial of Gunyidi lupins.
(Source: Farmonline)

Working conditions

Agricultural technicians 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 typically 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 technicians use a range of specialised scientific equipment, both to collect and preserve samples in the field, and analyse them in the laboratory. Agricultural technicians may come into contact with chemicals, which require the wearing of protective clothing such as gloves, safety glasses and lab coats. Some agricultural technicians may also operate farm equipment, such as tractors, when conducting field work.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an agricultural technician, you usually need to gain a qualification in agriculture. The Diploma of Agriculture is offered at TAFE Colleges throughout Australia in agriculture, horticulture, sustainable agriculture or animal technology. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a degree in agricultural science, or a science degree with a major in agriculture-related studies. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required.

A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study.

Employment Opportunities

Agricultural technical officers are employed by state, territory and federal government departments, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), pastoral companies, agricultural chemical manufacturers and farm consultancies. Employment of agricultural and food technicians is projected to show some growth.

More technology and scientific knowledge related to food production will allow greater control of food production and processing activities and in turn increase demand for agricultural and food technical officers. Continued population growth will drive the need to increase efficiency of production and processing methods. More awareness and enforcement of food safety regulations will increase inspection requirements, which, in turn, will increase the need for agricultural and food science technical officers.


In the past, government organisations were the major employers of agricultural technical officers. However, government positions are now often offered as short-term contracts based on project funding. Much of the work has been contracted out to private businesses and consultancy practices.

 

 

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