Working in Farming – What Will You Do?
Farming is an incredibly diverse profession. There are many different types of crops and animal breeds that can be farmed, and many ways of doing it. This means there are all sorts of job roles within farming, and all sorts of opportunities for people to get involved.
Importance of Agriculture
Agriculture is often described as the backbone of the economy. This is because its primary role is food production. Every human being in the world needs to eat, so every single person relies on agriculture.
Some of the reasons why agriculture is so important are:
- Food security – every country needs a secure food supply. Agriculture is the source of that food security. You can’t get a more important industry than that.
- Animal feed & fodder – by-products from agriculture may be incorporated into animal feed, and some crops like legumes can be grown as fodder for livestock.
- Raw materials – agriculture doesn’t just produce food, it is responsible for providing many raw materials used in a range of industries including like cotton, hemp, jute, edible and inedible oil crops, medicinal cannabis, pharmaceutical opiates, biofuels, and others.
- Employment opportunities – the agriculture industry is a big employer. In most industrialised countries it employs about 3 to 5% of the workforce, though this is often much higher in developing economies.
- Economy & trade – agriculture contributes a large proportion of GDP in developing countries especially. It also provides a large proportion of commodities that are traded between countries. This enables different countries to secure products they need.
Is there a Difference between Farming and Agriculture?
Although the terms ‘farming’ and ‘agriculture’ are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference.
Farming is a part of agriculture, but not all agriculture involves farming.
Farming is about everything associated with growing plants and animals, like:
As well as the day-to-day operations and management of farms:
Agriculture is a broader area. As well as farming, it includes research and scientific study of things like:
Spreading Its Roots
These days, what constitutes farming, and agriculture more broadly, is evolving. Farmers don’t just grow field crops or rear livestock, but they have set down roots in other related areas. Some of these are:
Basically, anything that can be grown, and used in some way, can be an extension of farming.
What About Conventional versus Organic Farming?
One way of distinguishing farming practices is to distinguish between conventional and organic farming systems. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of how this is done.
Conventional farming is often described as:
- Input intensive – it uses lots of fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides
- High yielding – it optimises crop and livestock yields with a focus on quantity over quality
- Reliant on monocultures – produces vast quantities of single crops
- Permits the use of genetically modified organisms
- Organic farming may be summed up as:
- Uses no chemical inputs – relies on crop rotations and organic soil additives
- Not as high yielding – focus on quality over quantity
- Controls pests with natural repellents and biological controls
- Encourages biodiversity and sustainable soil management practices
There is a strong argument in today’s world for more farmers to use organic growing practices. This is because they are more sustainable and do less harm to the environment. The flip side is the produce is more expensive because it is labour-intensive and produces lower yields. It also takes a long time for organic measures to improve soils.
However, high input conventional farming can have negative impacts such as water pollution, higher greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion. Ultimately, it can be detrimental to human health and wellbeing.
Of course, not all conventional farmers use high inputs. Farmers that practice integrated pest management (IPM) reduce the use of chemical pesticides. For these farmers, pesticides are considered as a last resort when natural pest control measures fail.
Other farmers have adopted low input farming systems where they may use herbicides to control weeds but do not use plant growth regulators or fungicides.
So, there are many ways to farm, and it is often a case of figuring out the best way to do it with the resources available.
People who work in this sector can be involved in the production, storage, processing, marketing, and distribution of a range of agricultural products.
As you can see, whether you work as a farmer or an agriculturist, there are many different things you could be involved in. That’s what makes this industry so alluring.
Most people who work with animals or plants, whether in the field or in the laboratory, will tell you how much they enjoy their work.
Some different types of jobs include:
- Farm hand
- Machinery operator
- Farm manager
- Livestock breeder
- Agricultural engineer
- Irrigation engineer/hydrologist
- Soil scientist
- Market gardener
- Farm product sales and marketing
- Agricultural equipment sales
This is just a sample. There are many other jobs, as well as peripheral jobs.
What Difference Could You Make?
Being a part of the industry gives you the opportunity to make choices that can impact on not only your community, but on the wider world.
By learning about and implementing sound farming practices, or being involved more generally in the industry, you could be:
- Providing people with food security
- Providing industry with valuable resources
- Reducing emissions from farming that contribute to climate change
- Contributing to sustainability
- Helping to drive advancements and innovations in technology
Is it time you got involved and began to make a difference?
There are many routes into farming. Some people choose to start their own farming business, others might begin by labouring or fruit picking on a farm, but for many taking some study can help to get a foot in the door.
Having some formal learning increases your chances of employment. It gives employers confidence that you have met some knowledge requirements, and it shows them that you are keen to learn.
Why not begin your journey into farming, or diversify your current skillset, by doing some distance learning?
We have a broad range of farming and related courses.
They can all be completed in your own time, at your own pace, at your own place.
Contact us today and chat to one of our friendly course counsellors to arrange your personalised study program.