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The STEM in agriculture

The STEM in agriculture

Dreaming of a gig in STEM and agriculture? The opportunities are endless with this combo!

Agriculture is the practice of cultivating soil, growing crops and raising livestock. There is so much STEM in agriculture, so whether you love numbers or are passionate about all things tech, you’re bound to find an area that’s the perfect for you. Below, we’ve rounded up five ways you can mix agriculture with STEM.

1. Technology + agriculture

With the world’s population set to reach 8.5billion by 2030, we urgently need to find technologies to feed and clothe the growing number of people on the planet. Enter agritech!

Agritech is all about finding high-tech solutions to revolutionise farming techniques to improve efficiency and outputs.

One Australian company who is a leading the way in this field is Farmbot. It has built an Internet-of-Things solution that monitors and reports on farm water infrastructure.

Farmbot provides remote monitoring solutions that measure and analyse water

Using both satellite and cellular communications, Farmbot provides farmers with near real-time information on water levels, consumption and demand.

Water is an extremely important resource for all farmers, so Farmbot provides them with a detailed understanding of their own water inventory. This helps them make better  decisions on asset utilisation and resource allocations. It also gives farmers peace of mind, knowing where their water is.

Andrew Coppin, founder and CEO of Farmbot, believes anyone looking at a career in STEM that wants to make a difference should look no further than the agritech industry.

Farmbot founder and CEO, Andrew Coppin

“The National Farmers’ Federation has set an ambitious target of Australian agriculture becoming a $100bn industry by 2030, but without technology we simply won’t get there,” he says. “Agritech is the great enabler for agriculture. It is helping solve problems around better water management, animal welfare, carbon emissions, carbon sequestration and overall better profitability and productivity of the land.”

Career opportunities: If agritech sounds like the right path for you, you could become a robotics engineer, data analyst, food engineer, irrigation engineer, systems analyst, environmental engineer, biosecurity expert, or a mechatronic engineer.

Find out more about study pathways into agritech here.

2. Data + agriculture

If ‘M’ is your favourite letter in STEM, you’ll be excited to know that at agriculture’s core is a bunch of maths and data!

“A number of concepts in statistics and maths are extensively used in various fields of agriculture, such as soil science, animal and crop production, agricultural engineering and agricultural economics,” says Kanika Singh, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, who is currently working on optimising soil management and health in Papua New Guinea.

Agriculture also relies on a range of data sources. Think weather and climate data
for forecasting; sensor data for info on soil, temperature, humidity, rainfall, sunlight and farm equipment; animal and plant genomics research data; plus remotely sensed data through satellites and drones.

Career opportunities: With data + agriculture, you could work in water and irrigation engineering, soil science, plant and crop physiology (in agronomy and horticulture), agricultural extension and education, biosystems and machineries, and animal science.

Are you keen on the numbers in agriculture? Find out more about the world of maths, data and agriculture here.

3. Cyber security + agriculture

Smart ag
Take down ag hackers with a cyber security gig

Did you know that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting farms and their suppliers and customers? For example, in 2020, Australia and New Zealand’s wool selling system was crippled for eight days by hackers demanding AU$8 million ransom.

This behaviour represents a serious threat to our food supply and security. But it also means more career opportunities for people who want to stop hackers in their tracks.

Career opportunities: By creating a cyber + agriculture mash up, you could be an information security specialist, agricultural technician, or a pen tester.

See how you can use cyber security skills to help the agriculture industry here.

4. Statistics + agriculture

Statistics and agriculture might seem like apples and oranges, but University of Sydney statistician Dr Emi Tanaka is using agricultural statistics to help farmers yield the best possible crops and uncover the science behind food production.

Emi gathers information about the health of crops against variable environmental factors such as location or nutrient supply, to quantify the circumstances that produce hardy plants.

Read more about what it’s like to be an agricultural statistician here.

5. Space + agriculture

Space and agriculture
Apply your next-gen farming smarts to a space role

It’s the 21st century and farmers are flying drones and sporting wearable tech around the farm! In another upgrade to the traditional farm gig, agriculture roles are no longer just on physical farms – or even just on Earth.

Yep, you can totally combine agriculture and space to build a STEM career. In fact, space companies really want STEM grads with an advanced knowledge of farming processes and systems to manage crops and water supplies via sophisticated space systems.

Career opportunities: You could be an AI specialist, data scientist, electrical engineer, machine learning engineer, software engineer, and satellite engineer.

Does this sound out-of-this-world? Discover four cool uses for space tech in agriculture here.

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