Agriculture General Stream
Do you want to work in an exciting, challenging industry that involves plants, animals and machinery with extensive out-of-doors work? The Australian agricultural industry offers all this and more.
Agriculture is one of Australia's most important industries. It involves the farming of plants and/or animals for profit. Successful farming requires the management of crops and/or livestock, the farm property, people and finances. Agriculture is carried out in all states and territories, and across a wide range of climates. There are two broad categories of agriculture - extensive and intensive.
- Extensive agriculture
- Extensive agriculture generally refers to the production of crops and animals across expansive areas of land. Extensive agriculture covers grain, sugar cane, cotton, sheep and wool, dairy, beef cattle, and goat production.
- Intensive agriculture
- Intensive agriculture refers to the production of crops and animals in concentrated areas of land. Intensive agriculture covers feedlot cattle, pigs and poultry production, and intensive growing of crops.
Many farms have a number of different enterprises including extensive and intensive operations. These are called mixed farms.
The type of work carried out in agriculture has been divided into 6 levels. These levels also relate to training and qualifications.
The titles for those who work at these levels are:
|Level||Job Role||Recommended qualification|
|Level 2||Farmhand||Certificate II in Agriculture
Certificate II in Rural Operations
|Level 3||Farm Tradesperson||Certificate III in Agriculture
Certificate III in Rural Operations
|Level 4||Farm Supervisor||Certificate IV in Agriculture|
|Level 5||Farm Manager||Diploma of Agriculture|
|Level 6||Rural Business Manager||Advanced Diploma of Agriculture
Advanced Diploma of Rural Business Management
A farmhand is likely to be involved in a wide range of tasks, working under limited supervision. Work undertaken as a farmhand includes:
- operating equipment
- performing routine maintenance
- operating tractors, ride-on farm and property vehicles
- applying chemicals
- providing support for basic repair of plant and equipment
- feeding, mustering and moving livestock
- carrying out basic fencing operations
- maintaining farm improvements
There are a number of ways to get work as a farmhand. Many farmhands begin working as assistant farmhands. As they develop their skills and knowledge, they undertake the work of a farmhand.
With a rural traineeship, you will start training as an assistant farmhand before moving on to work as a farmhand. Individuals with general agricultural experience are often able to obtain work as farmhands to assist with field duties and general farm work. The national qualification available for farmhands who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Certificate II in Agriculture.
Priority skills areas for working as a farmhand include workplace health and safety, chemical application, crop maintenance, farm maintenance and machinery and equipment operation.
A farm tradesperson is an experienced farmhand and is likely to be involved in co-ordinating a wide range of agricultural operations. Work undertaken as a farm tradesperson will depend on the type of farm production carried out, and includes:
- planting and harvesting crops
- implementing animal and crop husbandry practices
- servicing and repairing farm equipment and machinery
- designing and constructing fencing
- loading and unloading livestock
- installing and maintaining farm water supplies and irrigation systems
Individuals with wide agricultural experience are also often able to work as farm tradespersons. The national qualification available for a farm tradesperson is the Certificate III in Agriculture.
Priority skills areas for working as a farm tradesperson include workplace health and safety, service and repair of farm equipment and machinery, property maintenance and specialised machinery operation.
A farm supervisor has responsibility for a number of workers and agricultural activities. Work undertaken as a farm supervisor will depend on the type of farm production carried out, and includes:
- supervising and training staff
- co-ordinating crop and livestock production activities
- establishing and maintaining the farm safety program
- overseeing the maintenance of farm machinery and equipment
- operating a budget
- planning property improvement
There are a number of ways to get work as a farm supervisor. Many farm supervisors have worked on a farm as farmhands and farm tradespersons. Others may have completed a Level 4 Rural Traineeship.
The promotion of a farm tradesperson to farm supervisor occurs when the person takes responsibility for farming operations and can supervise the activities of other staff. The national qualification available for farm supervisors who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Certificate IV in Agriculture.
Priority skills areas for working as a farm supervisor include supervision of animal and crop production activities, staff supervision and training, budget and stock control, and equipment and machinery management.
A farm manager is likely to have significant responsibilities in managing agricultural activities on a farm.These responsibilities include:
- managing the property and staff
- livestock breeding and production
- co-ordinating crop health and production
- marketing livestock and/or crops
- preparing and managing a budget
- monitoring business performance
- managing, feed, pastures, fodder and crops
- purchasing, maintaining and operating machinery
Some farm managers look after one or more crop or animal production activities for another farmer. This is called "share" farming.
Farm managers achieve their position when they have shown that they can successfully manage farm operations as a business. Often they have worked as farmhands, farm tradespersons and farm supervisors, and have a good knowledge and experience of agricultural operations.
The national qualification available for farm managers who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Diploma in Agriculture.
Priority skills areas for working as a farm manager include property planning and management, crop and/or animal management and production, staff management, and business planning and operations.
A rural business manager has the primary responsibility for ensuring that the agricultural enterprise is successfully managed.The responsibilities of this position include:
- business monitoring and evaluation
- management of the production system
- total quality production and control
- financial management
- marketing of products
- managing human resources
Most rural business managers have extensive experience as farm managers. Their role is complex, and requires the application of a great deal of knowledge and a broad range of skills.
The national qualification available for rural business managers who have either undertaken formal training or learnt their skills on the job is the Advanced Diploma in Agriculture.
Specialist rural business management training programs are available on a full-time or part-time basis in most states, or through open learning.
Priority skills areas for working as a rural business manager include whole farm planning and management, managing production systems, marketing of products, strategic planning and rural enterprise management.