by Vijay Kumar Bhosekar
Due to the continued growth of the global population and the consequent expanding need for study of food crops and agriculture in general, the outlook for plant agriculture and agriculture experts is excellent. Past agricultural research has created higher yielding crops, crops with better resistance to pests and plant pathogens, and more effective fertilizers and pesticides. Research is still necessary, however, particularly as insects and diseases continue to adapt to pesticides and as soil fertility and water quality continue to need improvement. This article will discuss career opportunities and the labour market in the field of agriculture.
Emerging biotechnologies will play a large role in agricultural research. Scientists will be needed to apply these technologies to the creation of new food products and other advances. Moreover, increasing demand is expected for biofuels and other agricultural products used in industrial processes. Agricultural scientists will be needed to find ways to increase the output of crops used in these products.
Crop production specialists will also be needed to balance increased agricultural output with protection and preservation of soil, water and ecosystems. They increasingly encourage the practice of sustainable agriculture by developing and implementing plans to manage pests, crops, soil fertility and erosion, and animal waste in ways that reduce the use of harmful chemicals and do little damage to farms and the natural environment. Most plant scientists are consultants, researchers or teachers. Many work for agricultural experiment stations, federal or state/provincial government agencies, industrial firms or universities, as well as in such international organizations as the Agency for International Development, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The agricultural industry has evolved over recent decades with a growing concentration of large firms accounting for an ever-increasing proportion of output. In fact, self-employment has been declining in recent decades, making up less than four in 10 occupations, while industrial farms supply over 75% of output. The gains from technology have made a degree in agriculture increasingly important for those seeking to enter the industry, as large firms draw upon technical advances to improve efficiency. Agriculture sciences allow students who graduate opportunities in farm management, production agriculture, or research and development. Usually, students tend to focus on either animal or plant agriculture or gain employment relating to their focus. The courses focus on Life and Physical Sciences, Animal Science and Plant Science.
Labour Market Outlook
Graduates have the opportunity to work in education, business, government or the non-profit sector. Approximately 14% of graduates take positions in one of the three levels of government. As the quality and quantity of our food continues to be a hot issue, our economy will continue to focus on the products being generated by agricultural sciences graduates, and job opportunities under this focus will continue to be between good and excellent, especially for those willing to gain their master’s or PhD. Workers within the field can expect to earn roughly $25,000 to $50,000 with a degree, depending on the particular skill set they bring to the market. Those seeking improved job prospects should focus on developing technical skills that will allow them to remain valuable to employers.
Vijay Kumar Bhosekar, P.Ag, EPt, came to Canada in 2005 with a Doctorate in Crop Production and more than 20 years of teaching and research experience as an Associate Professor in ANGR Agricultural University, India. He has published more than 75 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has presented at seminars, symposia and conferences as well as extension literature for the provincial Ministry of Agriculture. He graduated in 2007 with an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management from Sheridan College, Brampton Campus. He is now a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:33