People in a wide range of technology, engineering and science-rich job roles are a vital part of supporting and protecting New Zealand’s farmers, growers, fishers and foresters.
For example, animal health is an important part of modern farming, from complying with animal welfare standards to choosing the best animals as breeding stock. Farmers need to understand plant health too - to increase crop yields, optimise pasture growth and choose varieties to suit different regional climates and soils.
Companies that make seeds, fertilisers, animal health treatments, and farm equipment all need people with technology, engineering and science skills to develop, improve and sell their products.
Precision agriculture uses modern technology to increase efficiency and sustainability, for example, using GPS to guide harvesting machinery, tracking individual animals with electronic ear tags, and using drones to measure grass growth.
Biosecurity is about protecting the security of our crops and livestock from biological threats – pests and diseases from other countries can have a major impact.
Some of the key job roles include:
- Agricultural consultants and aquaculturalists provide farmers with advice, information about the latest science and technology solutions, and support the uptake of new products and practices.
- Farm vets specialise in large animals like cows and sheep, and help with farm productivity and animal welfare.
- Biosecurity officers protect our primary industries by dealing with pest animals, plants and diseases.
- Soil scientists advise farmers about how to stop erosion and dispose of farm waste without damaging the soil.
- Environmental scientists collect and analyse air, water and soil samples to help farmers look after the environment.
- A variety of engineers use their skills to develop specialist electronics and machinery, write software, and design irrigation and wastewater management systems.
- Data analysts help farm and orchard managers to make better decisions, and are part of industry-wide monitoring in areas such as carbon storage in forests, food safety systems and biosecurity.
- Diagnosticians are scientists who diagnose pests and diseases (pathologists and parasitologists) or identify the adverse effects of chemicals (toxicologists).
- Industry verifiers are specialist auditors who check that farms and food processing companies comply with all the relevant regulatory requirements.
Employers vary, but include:
- Agricultural and horticultural consulting companies
- Companies that make farm products (fertilisers, equipment) or provide farm services (pregnancy testing, genetics, irrigation and waste management systems)
- Industry bodies like DairyNZ, Zespri and Beef+Lamb
- Government agencies such as AgResearch and the Ministry for Primary Industries
- Engineering consultancy companies
Key tertiary qualifications include:
- Diploma or degree in Agricultural or Horticultural Science
- Bachelor of Science or Applied Science, specialising in Agriculture, Animal Science, Aquaculture, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Forestry Science, Geology, Horticulture, Marine Science, Microbiology, Molecular Biology or Plant Science
- Bachelor of Science in Data Science, Maths, Statistics or Operations Research
- Bachelor of Engineering or Engineering Technology in a range of specialisations
Required and recommended school subjects:
- Agricultural or Horticultural Science
- Calculus (required for engineering)
- Physics (required for engineering)
- Statistics & Modelling