Agri-Science

Agri-Scientists are creative problem solvers who ask why and provide solutions in areas including genetics, sustainability, animal welfare and care; the environment and farming systems.

Agricultural Microbiologist

A Microbiologist studies microscopic life forms and processes such as bacteria, viruses, algae or fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals, and humans.

They also develop products and procedures to benefit humans or the environment.

Agricultural Microbiologists study plant-associated microbes, plant and animal diseases, and soil microbes, for example.

Generally, Agricultural Microbiologists have a Bachelor of Science degree in:

  • Microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

For research-based positions, a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or PhD) is required.

Find out more about being a Microbiologist at CareersNZ.

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Agritech

Agritech is the development and use of technology in the agriculture sector.

Agritech can be products or services which make life easier for farmers and their teams, businesses more profitable, care for animals, and/or protect the environment.

Through innovative agritech solutions your future could be designing robotic dairy systems, remote milk monitoring, cow identification systems, drones, apps, online mapping systems, smart sensors, and artificial intelligence including machine learning for ensuring world leading animal care or for precise fertiliser application.

Agritech is all about possibilities. Studying now for a career in technology means you could be working with technology not invented yet!

Generally, you need a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Ag Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Data Analytics

Check out this pasture robot being developed at Massey University.

What is the future of farming and agriculture?

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Animal Behaviour Scientist

Animal Behaviour Scientists (Ethologists) analyse and attempt to understand the reasons behind animal behaviour.

They might work in the efficient and humane management of farm animals, in areas such as conservation, the control of pest species, evolutionary biology, and population ecology.

Animal Behaviour Scientists often work for governments and large companies.

Generally, Animal Behaviour Scientists have a Bachelor of Science with Animal Behaviour papers in:

  • Animal Science
  • Zoology
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biological Science

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Animal Nutritionist

Animal Nutritionists study and understand the nutritional needs of animals.

They might formulate diets or make recommendations based on an animal’s condition and type of physical activity (such as performance, reproduction, lactation, or overcoming nutritional deficiencies), and/or be involved in research or teaching activities.

Animal nutritionists understand biology, chemistry, animal husbandry, animal nutrition, anatomy and physiology, mathematics, animal science, animal behaviour, forage and food production, and ration formulation.

They might work at a university, animal feed manufacturing company, scientific research organisation, or sector organisation (such as DairyNZ).

Generally, Animal Nutritionists have a Bachelor’s degree in Science:

  • Animal Science
  • Biological Science
  • Biochemistry

Animal Nutritionists who undertake research have a postgraduate degree (Master’s or PhD) in science:

  • Animal Nutrition
  • Veterinarian Science

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Consulting Officer

A Consulting Officer is DairyNZ’s version of a Farm Advisor / Consultant.

Consulting Officers work with and help farmers make decisions around finances, cows and grass, and people management. They facilitate the flow of information coming from the research and development teams at DairyNZ to the farmers, and the flow of information from farmers to the research team.

Generally, Consulting Officers have a Bachelor’s degree in:

  • Agricultural Science (Agri-Science)
  • Science (Agriculture)
  • Commerce (Agriculture)
  • Agribusiness
  • Economics-Agriculture

Watch this video about a DairyNZ Consultant Officer’s daily work.

Education

School subjects

Recommended secondary school subjects include English, Biology, Chemistry, Statistics and Modelling; Science, Maths with Calculus, Economics / Accounting, Geography.

Tertiary study

It’s preferred you have a tertiary qualification. Find out about the course, the campus, city life, and lifestyle you can expect, find out where to study.

Where to study

Crop Scientist / Agronomist

Agronomists / Crop Scientists specialise in producing and improving food crops through experiments and developing production methods.

Plant Scientists generally focus on increasing the quality and amount of food produced for humans and other animals. They must know how to sample soil, diagnose the nutrients crops need, and determine the effectiveness of a nutrient.

Agronomists / Crop Scientists can be teachers, agricultural business consultants or researchers. They often work in the field, on farms, or in agricultural labs.

Generally, Agronomists have a Bachelor of Science in:

  • Agri-science
  • Biological Science
  • Plant Science
  • Agronomy

Find out what an agronomist does and helps to feed the world.

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Environmental Analyst / Scientist

Environmental Analysts / Scientists are often scientists who study the environment and how plants, animals and other organisms are affected by the environment.

They also analyse human activities and determine our impact on the environment including climate change.

Environmental Analysts / Scientists advise how to avoid or reduce harmful effects on the environment. They might work for a government organisation or as a consultant in a private business.

Generally, Environmental Analysts / Scientists have a postgraduate qualification in science like a Bachelor’s Degree in:

  • Science (with environmental papers)
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Management and Planning
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biological Science
  • Soil Science
  • Earth Science
  • Fresh Water Ecology
  • Engineering

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Modeller / Farm Systems Scientist

Modellers use large amounts of data to examine changes over time and predict future trends.

In the dairy sector, Farm Systems Modellers use computer models to simulate the interactions between cows, grass, crops, and management in a farm system to answer questions that would be costly to undertake, take a long time, and be a lot of work in real life to determine.

In the environment field, Modellers study data related to pollution, resources, ecosystems, and the climate.

Modelling specialist will have a high level of IT skills in specialist software.

Generally, Modellers / Farm Systems Scientists have a Bachelor’s degree in:

  • Agricultural Science (Agri-Science)
  • Science (Agriculture)
  • Maths

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Molecular Biologist

Molecular Biologists study the structures and functions of cells at a molecular level.

They are interested in the biochemical processes within the living cells of animals, people, plants, and other living organisms.

Molecular biologists must be proficient in genetics, biology, physiology, and chemistry, and often work in labs with advanced equipment.

In the agricultural sector, Molecular Biologists might engineer new crops or study the impact of drugs on safe gene growth. They might study the endocrine system (a hormone system) and vaccines, for example.

Generally, Molecular Biologists start with a Bachelor of Science in:

  • Microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

A postgraduate degree (Master’s) is required for research-based positions.

Watch this video about a day in the life of a biotechnologist.

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Plant / Animal Geneticist

Animal Geneticist

Animal Geneticists analyse the genetic makeup of animals in order discover which genes optimise important traits such as milk production, immunity and longevity.
Animal Geneticists might research and give advice on breeding programs, to help farmers improve the profitability and sustainability of their herds.

Generally, Animal Geneticists have a Bachelor or Master’s of Science, with a specialty in genetics and statistics.

Plant Geneticist

Plant Geneticists research and implement ways to improve or create new varieties of plants or crops.

By looking at a plant’s characteristics (traits) and DNA, Plant Geneticists can examine ways to improve those traits. Plant Geneticists’ use biotechnology (the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to develop improved species of plants) to understand plant breeding and hybridisation.

In the dairy sector, Plant Geneticists strive toward selecting the best pasture cultivars for dairy farming systems.

Generally, Plant Geneticists have a Bachelor of Science in:

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Agronomy

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Reproduction / Cow Fertility Specialist

Reproductive / Cow Fertility Scientists are focused on improving reproductive performance of dairy cows within a farm system.

They are involved in research or treatment related to the reproductive systems of animals, enhancing reproductive success and contribute to competitive and resilient farm businesses.

In the dairy sector, these scientists help increase reproductive performance in dairy cows, and can work on aspects of reproductive physiology, management and selection of more fertile cows, and are all reproductive biology professionals.

They might work for a sector organisation, research institute, universities, or private business.

Reproduction / Fertility Scientists have a doctorate degree in animal sciences. They are educated in (not all of these) reproductive physiology, endocrinology, animal behaviour, breeding, molecular biology, nutrition, statistics, physiology and have knowledge of the farm system.

Generally, Technician careers require a Bachelor or Masters of:

  • Science
  • Biological Science
  • Agri-science
  • Dairy Science (Animal Science)

Generally, Scientists require a Doctor of Philosophy (Doctorate) in:

  • Animal Science
  • Reproductive Physiology
  • Reproduction
  • Veterinary Specialists
  • Science

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

Research Technician

Research Technicians tend to be practical, tactical, and detail-oriented people.

They support scientists by carrying out more of the outdoors, hands-on or laboratory-based measurements required for experiments to be undertaken by scientists (who must have a Master’s or PhD).

They might manage and execute the plan for all the field and laboratory methodologies, undertake data entry and validation, deliver high quality science results to scientists, and draft reports with the opportunity to co-author publications.

In the dairy sector, you might be an Artificial Breeding Technician, Herd Tester or Research Technician working in the area of forage crops, pasture, soils, weeds, pests, nutrition, reproduction, animal behaviour, and plant breeding.

Being a technician is a good option if you think you want a career in science but are undecided. You can study a Master’s or PhD to become a scientist.

Generally, Research Technicians have a Bachelor’s degree in:

  • Agri-science
  • Animal Science
  • Biological Science

People in this role

In this video Holly Flay, a DairyNZ research technician talks about her role and how she got to be in a job she loves.

Watch this video about a DairyNZ Research Technician’s work.

Education

For a career in science

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you will need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a scientist

You need a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Where to study

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About DairyNZ

DairyNZ is an organisation that, through research, events, services, education and policy, works with dairy farmers to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. New Zealand dairy farmers pay DairyNZ a levy to support them. Find out more at www.dairynz.co.nz.