Agricultural scientists study commercial plants, animals and cultivation techniques to improve the productivity and sustainability of farms and agricultural industries.
To become an agricultural scientist you usually have to complete 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 Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, biology, chemistry, mathematics 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. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.
Agricultural scientists may perform the following tasks:
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.
Employers include state, territory and federal government departments, and the private sector. Careers are usually in research, advisory roles, teaching, management, administration, marketing and media. Agricultural scientists may work in horticulture and with flower growers, nursery operators and commercial firms trading in horticultural products such as frozen foods, seeds and fertilisers. They may also work in the field of landscape design and in the mining industry to assist with land regeneration. Although employment opportunities exist overseas, positions usually require postgraduate qualifications or work experience.
An agricultural adviser assists and advises farmers, agricultural businesses, rural industries and governments in the production, processing and distribution of farm products. They may specialise in areas such as livestock, crops, dairy, fruit and vegetable production, water use, farm economics or land management.
An agricultural biotechnologist uses techniques such as genetic engineering to improve the quality and diversity of plant and animal products.
An agricultural entomologist investigates the causes of insect outbreaks and researches methods to control them through integrated pest management, biological control and chemical processes.
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.
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 or farming sustainability.
An animal scientist conducts experiments in controlled breeding or embryo manipulation. They investigate the nutritional value of different feeds and the environmental conditions necessary to improve the quality of animal produce.
A crop physiologist studies the mechanisms of normal plant growth and the effects of environmental conditions and chemicals upon them.
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.
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.