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Feed the world: science careers in smart farming

Smart farming careers are sprouting everywhere. Unleash your potential in science and agriculture

The world’s population is on the rise, and that means we need to produce more food, more sustainably to feed everyone. In fact, we’ll have to produce a massive 51% more food by 2050 to meet this demand. Scientists working in Australia’s thriving agriculture industry are tackling the issue head-on, using cutting-edge technology to help revolutionise farming. 

Agricultural science is a growing field, with an estimated six jobs for every graduate in Australia. If this is the road you go down, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to shape the future of sustainable agriculture – whether you’re in the lab or getting your hands dirty in the field, working with private companies, local farmers, or even government agencies.

You could apply your science smarts to help develop drought-resistant crops, or grow premium grapes for world-class Aussie wine, through specialisations such as crop science, plant health and sustainable farming. By combining your scientific skills with tech like artificial intelligence, you could deliver even more impact. 

So, if you’re passionate about tackling climate change and making the world more sustainable, a science + agriculture career could lead to your dream job. 

In this field, you’ll address complex issues like adapting to a changing climate, all while using your knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics and economics. The best part? You’ll see your efforts actually making a difference in the real world.

Feed the world

In the 2019 to 2020 season, about $48 billion of Australia’s $61 billion agricultural production was shipped to other countries.

Take your pick

  • Agricultural scientists research soil, plant and animal genetics, pest and disease management, and more, to help with global challenges like feeding the world’s population. 
  • Agronomists work with businesses to ensure farming systems stay profitable and environmentally sustainable for future generations.
  • Food safety consultants help reduce food waste and the impact of pathogens due to inappropriate food storage and bacterial contamination. 
  • Viticulturists are expert grape growers, with a deep knowledge of soil, weather and the essential care needed to cultivate premium grapes used for wine.

Work on a global stage

Imagine using what you know to help neighbouring countries with big challenges like biosecurity and making sure there’s enough food. You might team up with local communities to help make their farms more productive and sustainable. And the best part? You get to travel the world, make global connections and bring cool new skills and knowledge back to Australia!

Did you know?

Almost half of the world’s farming land, where about 40% of all people on Earth live, faces continuous or frequent drought. This makes it much harder to grow cereal crops like wheat and barley, which we need to feed the world. 

Smart farming careers: AI in agriculture

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, AI has the potential to improve productivity and agricultural performance by up to 55%. It’s already being used, with sensors, robotics, and data analysis making a positive impact. 

  • Machine learning gathers and analyses data, helping to predict crop yields or disease outbreaks, and optimising planting and harvest times. 
  • AI-powered robots handle tasks like planting, weeding, harvesting and even caring for cattle, saving farmers time and labour. 
  • Computer vision is used to monitor crop health and identify pests by analysing images from drones, cameras and satellites.

Start your career here

SCIENCE + AGRICULTURE + STUDY

Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Charles Sturt University

Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours), University of Tasmania

Bachelor of Science (Regenerative Agriculture), Southern Cross University

Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology, The University of Adelaide

SCIENCE + AGRICULTURE JOBS

Agriculture research scientist $66K–$96K

Sustainability consultant $58K–$113K

Agronomist $55K–$96K

Vineyard operator / manager $50K–$91K*

*Salaries according to payscale.com

This story first appeared in Careers with STEM: Science 2024.

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