Careers In Agriculture 2019


So, you’re nearing the end of your school days
and you’ve got no idea how to respond when parents, teachers, friends, relatives,
neighbours, even the postman ask about your plans beyond the classroom. These guys are stumped too, what they do know is
that they want to make a difference, what they don’t know is the answer
might be staring right at them. Hey, thinking about life after school, huh? Here’s some food for thought, ever thought
about a career in Agriculture? Basically the basis for human civilisation. You probably don’t even realise the massive role
agriculture plays, it’s everywhere, even right under your nose. But without agriculture, yep, even that chicken
wouldn’t make it onto your pizza and that would be a shame for us Aussies
since we each eat around a kilo of chicken a week. So, where’s it all coming from and
who’s looking after them? Aside from chicken farmers it’s poultry vets, nutritionists
and researchers keeping our chooks in check. Veterinary Medicine, one for the animal lovers. I’m a veterinarian so I use my skills from
Veterinary Medicine to work with chickens, mostly free range chickens and
investigate their health status, figure out their problems
and how we can solve them. As my focus is chicken health predominantly
free range layer health. We’re looking at a lot of problems that we
see over there that we did not see in caged birds. Twenty years ago the vast majority of hens
were held in cages so they don’t pick up many diseases and bugs and viruses and parasites
because they’re just not in contact with them, they’re in a clean environment. In free range that’s a little bit different
because they’re picking up a lot of diseases. And whether it was the chicken or
the egg that came first, the fact is without agriculture we’d have neither –
boiled, poached, scrambled, fried. Brekky just got boring. Right now 16 million layer hens are popping out
420 million dozen eggs a year and free range is all the rage. In Australia free range egg production has a
major impact on the overall egg production. It’s about fifty per cent of the retail sales
so that eggs that are sold in the supermarket. Twenty eight per cent of all chickens
in Australia are free range hens. That’s quite a lot of number of birds and
looking after their health and looking after their problem is my job. While chicken is our protein of choice,
every year we stick 27 kilos of pork on our forks. And what’s a weekend brunch without bacon? And is a pizza without cheese even a pizza? Our dairy farmers are pumping out more than
9,000 million litres of whole milk a year. Some of that goes towards making more than
330 thousand tonnes of cheesy goodness. For each of us that’s around 13 kilos of fromage a year. With animals providing for us in so many different ways,
who’s helping to keep our livestock well, alive? Livestock Management, i.e. not an office job. I’m a livestock manager here on my family’s farm
at Old Rennylea down near Bowna. So, I always wanted to have a career in agriculture. After school I spent a year working in
Northern Queensland on a cattle station. I then went to university up in Armidale, UNE,
New England and did a degree in livestock science. After that I spent 3 years working for the
Victorian Department of Primary Industries in prime lamb extension and research and then
moved back to my family’s property last year to become involved here. Yeah, I really love what I do mainly because
I work outside, I love livestock and it’s a really diverse and creative job. District Veterinarian, because there’s more to
vet life than desexing cats and dogs. So, the difference between a District Veterinarian
and a small animal or a mixed practice veterinarian, you know most commonly come across. We tend to work with farmers on a broader scale
rather than giving treatments like a lot of vets will do, we tend to advise on
general management. We tend to do things like investigate disease
outbreaks and things like that. And we’re here for offering advice and educating
the farming community. For the bigger picture we’re important in
monitoring for diseases that are exotic to Australia by proving that Australia is free
of those diseases we maintain our really important export markets that create such a great demand
for Australia’s livestock products. And from land to sea our aquaculture industry
is pretty major too not surprising since we each consume about 15 kilos
worth of seafood a year. You’d assume there are plenty of fish in the sea
but our stocks have taken a dive over the past decade so we’ve got fish farmers
working hard to increase their numbers. Aquaculture, pescatarians, take note! So, what made me want to become a fish farmer
I think was the realisation that our population is increasing, our wild stock
is decreasing and if we’re wanting fish for the future the only way to achieve that
is actually going to be able to grow them. The future for us here is to go more paddock
to plate so that we can make the product that we’re growing here available to local people
and visitors in the freshest possible form and the easiest way to take home and prepare
for themselves as a healthy, home cooked meal. While we haven’t worked out how to turn
water into wine, our vino industry is doing some pretty miraculous stuff. Our 6,000 or so grape growers and 2,500 thousand
wineries are producing more than 1 billion litres of red, white, bubbles and rosé. Viticulture, that is winemaking …
for when you’re 18+. Australian wine is really starting to come
into its own on the world stage again. There’s so many amazing wines being made
out there, so many different wineries and if you’re a student looking to go into
the wine industry now is the perfect time, it’s really a time when the
Australian industry is blossoming. Winemaking is a very science orientated field,
so if you’re doing science subjects like chemistry, biology that’s really important. Then you need to go to university to get
a wine science degree. Once you’ve done that that’s your key to getting
into the industry and you can work in so many different places. You can work in a little tin shed on the side
of the hill tinkering around making wine or you can work in these huge facilities that
almost wine factories, anything in between. You travel the world doing it. You can be in the vineyard. You can be doing marketing. It’s just amazing how many different things you can do. The winery that I work at is a very large winery
so it’s not a hands on role that I do. Most of what I do is production management,
making sure wines are okay, tasting wines each day and just overall just ensuring
the wines that the best they can be. Going from grapes to grains now. And did you know Australia’s top agricultural
commodity is wheat? And guess what wheat makes? Yeah, your pizza. And as the world’s fourth largest exporter
we’re producing around 22 million tonnes of wheat a year. And just as animals need vets, plants need
pathologists and breeders. Agronomy, one for the green thumbs. What I really enjoy about this work is that
every day is different, that I can work out in the paddock and that
what I’m doing is actually making a meaningful difference to
profitability in farmers’ fields. I came here from an ag science degree knowing
that I wanted to work in research and I really enjoy being able to make
a difference every day. And when it comes to feeding the masses
each of the country’s 135,000 farmers feeds 600 people. And they’re not just feeding us,
they’re clothing us too. In fact Australia produces three per cent
of the world’s cotton. And as the number one wool producer we account
for twenty per cent of global wool production. That’s a whole lot of cardigans and
we haven’t even touched on forestry or where those drum skins come from. From the food on our plates to the clothes
on our backs and everything in between, where would we be without agriculture? What high school students potentially might not realise
is the wide variety of careers that are available. So, it’s really important that we have people
that want to be on the farm, that work on the farm, that they produce the milk
or the beef or the crops but there’s also a lot of other service industries
that students can go into if they don’t want to work on farms. So, you know they can be the precision
ag technologist who is you know researching about all the different new technologies. They can be in sales or marketing. So, the next big growth area I think in agriculture
is people getting into technology. So, using technology to improve efficiency,
productivity, profitability, all those things are really important to the Australian ag industry. It’s important that farmers know how to use
the technology but we also need bright young graduates who come out of universities
and already know how to use the technologies so they can advise farmers, they can
encourage them to use that technology. And I think that doesn’t just excite people
who already have an interest in agriculture but those potentially who maybe are interested in
computer science or in engineering there’s lots of opportunities for a wide range of
people to enter the ag industry. Precision Agriculture, one for the tech heads. My job basically involves looking at how we can
use the latest technologies in agriculture to help farmers make better management decisions. So, that’s across a range of different sort
of areas from say using satellites to measure pasture, soil sensors to look at soil fertility. But one of the things I’ve spent a lot of
time on is using sensors on animals to monitor their behaviour. We now have a range of different tools that
farmers have available to them. So, the dairy industry we’ve got devices
ear tag sensors, collars that allow dairy farmers to pick up changes in behaviour. So, if an animal is getting sick they can
pick that up early. And that’s a lot of the research that I do here
is spend time looking at how different sensors can pick up say animal disease
or welfare problems and alert the farmers so that they can go out and intervene. As one of the world’s leading beef exporters
we’ve got a cattle herd size of around 24 million across more than 70,000 cattle businesses. So, we’ve almost as many cows as people. There’s a lot to keep track of, kind of like Google Maps. Turns out there’s GPS for animals. Yes, so how animal tracking works
basically you have a device on an animal, so it could be a collar or an ear tag
and that records either the location using GPS or the behaviour from an accelerometer sensor
and then it transmits that data off the ear tag back through either
the mobile phone network or from a telemetry system, a Wi-Fi type network on the farm and
that goes back to a computer. And then we have mathematical models that
interrogate that data and then work out what’s actually happening with the animal. And certainly things like the idea of being
able to track the location and behaviour of your animal was inconceivable 10 years ago
but you know we’re sort of doing that these days. So, it will be really interesting to see
what happens particularly with things like virtual fencing where you use devices to move animals
around the landscape remotely. Or UAVs as well drones as they become smaller
and more efficient how we will be able to use them to go out and move animals,
muster animals, whatever it happens to be. So, the enormous potential for change is
the technology becomes useful. Elsewhere robots are doing the work of humans
so our hardworking farmers have more time to kick off their boots. In fact the agriculture industry is so technologically
advanced there’s a revolution happening on our farms right now. And if you’re into coding and programming
you could be inventing bots like this. Agriculture Robotics, for the up-and-coming
Elon Musks of the world. Farming is going to become more and more reliant
on these types of autonomous systems that persistently monitor a farm and return data
about what a farm looks like and what the health of the farm is and also
what the health of individual crops are and what yield the farmer is getting back
from individual crops. And so with this data farmers are going
to be able to make better decisions about how to manage their farm and get
more returns from their farm. Speaking of decisions, don’t get bogged down
in the nitty gritty. Sometimes a curious mind and a desire to make
a difference is all you need. I’m originally from Germany. When I left school and someone would’ve asked me
what I envisage I would do in the future I would have never thought that I would be
working as a Quantitative Geneticist in Armidale because at school I was just really not passionate
about maths, I was not particularly good in English. So, it certainly was not my focus. I was naturally a curious person and
I really loved biology. So, the science pathway was certainly something
that I was interested in and I loved animals. So, my natural thought was that my ideal profession
would be veterinarian and I wanted to study veterinary medicine, however my school grades
weren’t actually good enough to get into veterinary medicine so I chose to study agriculture first
and then maybe sidestep a bit later on. However, the course was actually so interesting
that I did the full course in agriculture. So, I studied high school just at a small,
public high school. I didn’t get huge marks, I certainly wasn’t
the smartest in my year. But that being said I worked hard and I got
good experience in the field that made me a good candidate for studying Veterinary Science. I went straight to uni and when I finished
I actually worked in private practice for a number of years in quite a few different roles. I’ve tried a number of things. I’ve worked with small animals. I’ve worked with cattle. And I’ve also spent quite a lot of time with horses. So, I think getting experience in a wide range
is really important, you’ve got to try different things to see what you really enjoy
and I’m finding that working with livestock in the farming community in such
a broad role is really interesting. You know no two days are ever the same and
that’s probably one of the best things about the job. If you’re a high school student and you’re interested
in getting into this sort of field so Precision Agriculture I guess one of the
key things is to track down that line of looking into science and
science based degrees but also looking at things like physics and computational science. They’re going to be real areas of demand in
the future in agriculture as this technology takes over. So, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity
for people with those sort of skills. You know if you can go through university
and do some sort of ag science degree or something with some of the straight sciences
then you’re going to be in demand basically. And there are Perks, the stuff great jobs are made of. I get to travel a lot, so I’ve got to go to
lots of different places around Australia talking to lots and lots of different people. I’ve travelled internationally, I’ve been
lucky enough to present at international conferences both as part of my PhD and my work. I get to meet a lot of people and you know
I get to work in an industry that really makes a difference to everyone. So, which yeah excites me. What I really enjoy about this work is that
every day is different. I’m out in the paddock, I’m not stuck in an office
or a lab or anything like that and I feel like I’m making a real difference to growers. The beauty of robotics is it brings together people
with all different types of expertise. And so what’s common though is that
people are really smart. And I work with some really intelligent people
and it’s always a pleasure to go to work and if you’ve got a problem you can bounce it
off people and really have a good discussion about robots and how to solve different problems. The best part of my job is when I talk to farmers
to communicate about my research and about my findings. And I actually find out that they have been
applying the research that I’ve done. I sort of think it’s probably a bit like that
rock star moment when you hear your song for the first time on the radio. So, yeah that’s really exciting. Agriculture is at a challenging but exciting
juncture right now with more people to sustain and less sustainable land it’s up to
your generation to come up with solutions to make sure nobody goes without. Australia’s population just ticked over to
25 million and it’s projected to reach up to 40 million by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of
bodies to clothe and that’s just us. We have to start feeding more people,
you know I think the population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050
and we have less land, urban sprawl is you know decreasing,
our agricultural productive land. And there’s a range of factors. So, you know everything that we do from now on
needs to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. So, I think that you know there’s a wide range
of jobs and a wide range of interests and everyone eats, everyone wears clothes,
everyone needs agriculture. Right now everyone amounts to
7.6 billion bods on the planet. In our own backyard farmers are now producing
enough food to feed 80 million mouths. We’re also growing enough cotton to slap clothes
on the backs of 500 million people. And if we want to feed an ever increasing
population we’ll need to grow seventy per cent more food by 2050. So, with demand set to soar there’s never
been a greater need for agriculture graduates. Right now agriculture provides employment
for 1.6 million Aussies. And with more and more opportunities on the table
the future is bright for an industry that feeds us, clothes us, entertains us, sustains us. And as far as Australia fairs on a global scale
we’re a pretty big deal and we have a pretty exciting role to play with so many
different career options in agriculture the hardest part will be choosing just one. You could be a food chemist, vet nurse,
marketing manager, arborist, robotics engineer, software programmer, chicken breeder, organic farmer,
plant physiologist, app developer, mechanic, agricultural banker, social media manager,
statistician, nutritionist, biologist, agricultural scientist, advertising specialist,
greenhouse manager, forester, wheat breeder, conservationist, winemaker, horticulturist,
beekeeper, district vet. What role will you play? Music

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