Agricultural scientists or agriculturists study farming and endeavour to increase productivity. They look for ways to improve quality, but in a less labour-intensive way. They also try to conserve soil and water and make farming more safe and effective.
Agricultural science is similar to biological science in that it makes use of Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology to solve agricultural problems. To obtain knowledge about biotechnology, agricultural food scientists often work closely with biological scientists. They communicate new ideas to farmers and technicians.
Agricultural scientists can specialize in various fields such as agronomy, biochemistry, zoology, physics, genetics, soil science, entomology, agricultural extension, agricultural meteorology, botany, dairy science, animal science, agricultural economy, agricultural engineering, pasture science, oenology and wildlife management.
The agricultural scientist concerned with crop science investigates field crop problems and develops new and improved growing methods to obtain higher yields or better quality. They may specialize in a specific crop, group of crops, production, weed and pest control or irrigation.
The agricultural scientist concerned with animal science conducts research on animals, and develops scientific methods of breeding, caring for, and managing farm animals. They specialize in certain types of animals, their breeding, physiology, or nutrition or the products of animals such as meat, butter or eggs.
Agricultural scientists work in a variety of environments, again depending on the specialization; for example: office environments, in laboratories, test kitchens or dairies and outdoors, particularly when doing research. They use scientific equipment.
An agricultural technician processes the information from the agricultural scientist so farmers can use it. They advise farmers on farming methods. Sometimes they are also involved in agricultural research. Farmers use existing knowledge to produce food and fibres without harming the environment. Training, counselling and research are important tasks of an agriculturist.
- knowing you are contributing to improving agriculture
- discovering new things
- being able to solve problems
- being able to utilize resources fully
- working with other people
- working outdoors.
- hard work
- sometimes difficult or unpleasant environments in which to work
- a results-driven career, with time and other pressures; and the success of projects often depend on making the correct recommendations
- ability to perform research
- ability to work independently
- above average intelligence
- creative and innovative thinker
- interest in agriculture - soil, plants and animals
- good communication and interpersonal skills
- patience and perseverance
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Accounting, Economics, Agricultural Sciences, Life Sciences
Degree: Most universities in South Africa offer a degree and diploma in Agriculture - UFS, UFH, UL, US, UKZN, UP, NMMU, NWU, UNISA
Diploma: N.Dip. is offered at TUT, CUT, DUT, NWU, UFH, UNISA, NMMU
- universities and colleges
- government and private research institutes
- animal food producers
- Department of Agriculture
- commercial organizations such as manufacturers of agricultural remedies
- industrial companies
- colleges and universities
- organizations such as the CSIR and National Parks Board and SABS
- control boards and agricultural unions
- large farming undertakings
- self-employment - as consultants, advisors and farmers
Agricultural Research Council
P O Box 8783
Tel: (012) 427-9700
Fax: (012) 342-3948
Department of Agriculture
Private Bag X250
Tel: (012) 319-7328