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Agriculture specialists provide assistance and advice to farmers and livestock producers. They consult on a number of areas, including crop choice and rotation, cultivation and harvesting, soil and water issues, and animal husbandry and nutrition. Agriculture specialists often specialize in a specific area, for example animal science, economics, agricultural mechanics, soil science, or field crops. Agriculture specialists work closely with farmers and livestock producers to ensure the success of their businesses.
At a glanceImagine standing at the front of a noisy school gymnasium packed full of area farmers. In a few minutes, you and your team will begin your presentation of a long-awaited report on agriculture in this district and steps that will be taken to improve local growing conditions. As a senior agricultural specialist in this area, you already know most of these farmers, having spent years working with them and giving advice on farm management. You know that the past few years have been tough on a lot of these men and women: abnormally dry summers and late frosts have killed a lot of crops in the area, and these people have turned to you and your team for advice on what they can do to prevent such losses in the future. You know that weather can be unpredictable and no one can stop droughts and hail storms, but you hope that tonight's report will give these farmers some peace of mind knowing that steps can be taken to reduce the impact of these events and protect their crops. Your job is to advise farmers on different strategies they can use to maximize their yields. In this case, you have spent most of the last year meeting with farmers one-on-one to discuss how they can protect against drought and late-spring frosts. Your specialty is field crops and irrigation, and you have been reviewing with farmers the current irrigation system and how they use it, as well as the different crop varieties each farmer is planting.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an agriculture specialist:
- Provide counselling and advisory services to farmers and livestock producers on production issues, for example cultivation, fertilization, harvesting, and animal care.
- Prepare and conduct advisory information sessions and lectures for farmers and other relevant groups.
- Conduct research and implement new technology and practices.
- Analyze agricultural data and prepare research reports.
- Liaise with researchers, educators, government departments, and business managers.
- Maintain records of services provided and their results.
- Promote mutual understanding and cooperation between government regulatory agencies and the agriculture community.
- Educate farmers and agriculture business owners on understanding and complying with environmental pollution-control laws and regulations.
- Recruit funds for the development and implementation of research.
Work environmentAgriculture specialists work in a variety of locations, including: In the lab:
- Testing samples
- Performing maintenance and repairing equipment
- Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, and the public
- Researching new technology and advancements in agriculture
- Observing and inspecting crops, soils, and tree nurseries
- Making presentations to farmers, livestock producers, and agriculture businesses
- Responding to requests from clients
Where to workThere are a number of places where agriculture specialists can find employment. They include:
- Ranches and farms
- Producer, research, and breed associations
- Colleges and universities
- Federal, provincial/ territorial, and municipal government departments
- Agricultural, biological, and environmental consulting firms
- Companies that manufacture and/or sell agricultural equipment and material
- Self-employed consultant
- Veterinary practices and agri-business firms
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an agriculture specialist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Computer Science
- Soil Science
- Environmental Science
- Renewable Resource Management
- Land Reclamation