If you are considering a career in agriculture, you will need an overview and understanding industry trends to succeed. In this blog, we’ll explain what agriculture is and why it is such an important part of our society. We’ll also look at the state of the Australian agricultural industry and explore how it has adapted to the changing industry environment.
What is Agriculture?
Agriculture, more commonly referred to as farming, is a broad industry with a fascinating history. Agriculture involves the cultivation of food products, timber, and fibre. It is a catch-all term that refers to a wide range of smaller industries, including animal husbandry, agronomy, and horticulture.
Agriculture in Australia
Agriculture is a significant and successful industry in Australia. In fact, 58% of Australia’s landmass – or 446 million hectares — is utilized for agriculture. Cattle, wool, and wheat are among the most profitable agricultural products produced in Australia. Fruit, nuts, vegetables, and barley are becoming more profitable crops to grow in Australia.
Of all goods exported from Australia in 2018-2019, 11% were agricultural products. In addition, 2.6% of all employed people in the same year were employed in agriculture. This figure is higher in rural areas – about 6% of all rural jobs were in the field of agriculture in 2018-2019.
We can tell from these numbers that the agricultural industry is an important part of Australia’s economy. But, what does it mean to be an agricultural professional?
Roles and Responsibilities
Agricultural professionals take many forms. Farmers, agricultural scientists, businesspeople, and animal health carers are all vital components of the Australian agriculture industry. Your roles and responsibilities as an agriculture professional will be different depending on your chosen field.
If you decide to work with animals, either as a farmer or animal health care professional, you must be aware of animal welfare laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Each animal species has its own unique needs and requirements. You must understand and cater to the needs of all animals you are responsible for.
Farmers of crops and livestock must be aware of the environmental impacts of their activities. A forward-thinking farmer will research and implement environmentally friendly farming practices. We’ll discuss this further in our next section.
In addition to a theoretical and practical knowledge of agricultural business, agricultural businesspeople must have a deep understanding of the cultivation or production process in their chosen field. They must also learn about agricultural business law and ethics.
The agricultural industry has a significant environmental impact. Clearing of native vegetation, carbon emissions from livestock, high water usage, and the introduction of exotic plant and animal species all have negative effects on Australia’s environment. Animal agriculture has a particularly high environmental impact, with livestock contributing approximately 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
However, as we learn more about the environmental impacts of agriculture, and as technology advances, farmers are developing techniques to minimize the impact they have on Australia’s environment. We now know that environmentally sustainable agriculture is essential for both sustainability and profitability in the long term.
The CSIRO, in collaboration with Australian farmers, has been developing new environmentally friendly farming tools and management strategies. Integrated pest management, life cycle assessments, precision agriculture, and utilizing new biodegradable production system technology are just some of the ways that farmers around the country are making their operations more environmentally and financially sustainable.
The Future of Agriculture
Agriculture has come a long way since its humble beginnings tens of thousands of years ago. It is constantly changing and adapting to the needs of the people it supports, as well as the requirements of our planet. We’ve already talked about how Australian farmers are adopting more sustainable business practices.
Technology is also helping farmers to improve efficiency, produce higher quality livestock through breeding programs, and assist in monitoring crop and animal health. These exciting new technologies are saving farmers money and increasing long-term profitability.
Artificial intelligence, robots, and new innovative tools are helping to keep farmers safer on the job. They also help to increase productivity and minimize the physical strain and repetitive nature of farm work.
Another exciting new technology is gene editing. Editing the genes of crops and livestock so they are healthier and possess more desirable characteristics could have a significant impact Australian agriculture. In the long term, gene editing could improve profitability and productivity, lower costs, and speed up the breeding process.
Though we don’t yet know what the distant future holds for agriculture in Australia, the emergence of innovative new technology is helping to ensure that the industry continues to grow and thrive.
Has our blog inspired you to learn more about agriculture? You’ve come to the right place! Careerline Courses offers a range of online tutor-supported agriculture courses. Covering a broad range of topics, including animal husbandry, crop farming, and farm management, you’re sure to find a course that’s right for you.
Learn more by scrolling down to read about this week’s featured courses. If you’d like to enquire about any of our featured courses, or any others from our range, get in touch with us by email, direct message, or phone.
1. Farm Management: If you want to learn more about the business of operating a farm, Careerline’s online Farm Management course could be right for you. In this course, students learn to develop strategic plans, including business plans and viability analysis, to help them successfully manage their own farm. You will learn to manage and evaluate human resources, physical resources, and natural resources while adhering to local legislation. In addition, you will study management strategies that will help you competently and confidently coordinate your farm’s day-to-day operations.
2. Organic Farming: Are you interested in farming for food production, but concerned about the use of chemicals in traditional agriculture? Careerline’s online Organic Farming course will teach you how to successfully manage crops and livestock in an organic and sustainable way. You will develop an understanding of effective organic farming techniques, including composting, soil improvement, weed management, green manuring, crop rotation, and pest control strategies. Additionally, you will learn about issues you may encounter when managing an organic farm, including certification, marketing, and public relations.
3. Advanced Certificate in Animal Husbandry: this is designed to give students a well-rounded education. You will study three core animal husbandry modules, learning about animal health, feed and nutrition, and enhancing performance. Students also select one elective to learn to care for a species of livestock animal, such as beef cattle, sheep, or pigs. This course is designed for farmers, farmhands, agriculture professionals, and anyone who works with animals as a hobby or career.
4. Animal Breeding: this course will provide you with a science-based overview of the breeding process for a variety of animal species. Whether breeding pets, livestock, or working animals, this course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to develop a breeding program that suits your requirements. You will learn about different types of breeding, how breeding can be used to improve livestock, and how to select animals to breed. Further, you will study animal genetics including gene mutations, heritability, and the use of genetics in agriculture.