What’s it all about then?
As an Agricultural Scientist, you will conduct research of crops and animals aimed at improving farming techniques to enhance the efficiency and profitability of farm businesses.
This means conducting tests, collating and analysing samples, and compiling reports on any number of factors that affect agricultural production; you can then use these reports to inform farmers, seed suppliers etc of potential improvements to be made.
You will also study the effects of different farming techniques, pests and varying environmental factors that also affect outputs.
The Agricultural Scientist will try and strike a fair balance between the economic concerns of the farmer and other conservation issues.
What might I be doing?
There are a number of specialisms leading to a large variance in some of the work of the Agricultural Scientist but the following tasks are likely:
- Designing and implementing field experiments to solve issues
- Working alone in a methodical manner to generate data with which to work
- Conducting tests, collating samples and analysing results
- Writing reports based on field research and communicating results
- Working in collaboration with others to ensure optimal research outcomes
- Maintaining independence of thought and producing innovative solutions to problems
- Writing grant proposals for research purposes
- Ensuring that all work meets legislative requirements
- Liaising with farmers and other stakeholders
- Supervising the lab work and field work of others
What will be expected of me?
Naturally you’ll have a strong interest in science and the environment, particularly based around biology and chemistry, and you’ll like research very much.
You will have to be an excellent communicator in order to produce well written reports and then communicating results to a wide range of shareholders.
You should be innovative; in order to uncover solutions to problems that have been given to you to investigate; understanding business principles is also important so that your ideas are sensible from a monetary perspective.
The job also requires you to be very patient and methodical because you will need to be accurate over long periods of time, depending on the work with which you’re involved at any moment.
What can I expect?
You will work a 39 hour week and be based part of the time in the laboratory and part of the time in the field, depending on workload – these hours might include evening and weekends.
Potential employers for agricultural scientists include government departments and related bodies, research organisations and manufacturers of products used in the agricultural sector.
As you gain experience and seniority you may also be asked to sit on various committees dealing with matters of policy.
What about the pay?
Your salary will depend on a number of factors such as location and employer.
You could expect to start on £17k up to £22k and with experience you could be looking from £28k to £35k.
As your career develops and you take on more senior roles you can expect to earn a lot more.
Please note that these figures are for guidance only.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
At the very minimum you will need a degree in a relevant subject such as biology, chemistry, soil science, animal nutrition or agriculture etc.
A post-graduate qualification such as a Masters degree or even a Doctorate might even be required, depending on the type of work; postgraduate work will mean that you have specialised in a particular area of agricultural science such as soil science, animal science, and crop technology.
Where would I get these qualifications?
These types of qualifications are widely available at Universities and you should check under subject headings for details of where you can study for your qualifications.
What about further training?
You may have commenced work straight after completing your undergraduate degree, in which case there is a wide variety of post graduate specialisms available to you as noted above.
With further experience you could also consider membership of a professional body and achieving Chartered status, which will provide you with international recognition.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, this is an extremely rewarding position for someone who enjoys a combination of practical and academic research work.
It’s a really good fit for someone who enjoys wildlife and the great outdoors.
You should be aware though that some research projects may take a relatively long time to come to fruition so you will need to have a patient personality.