This major provides graduates with a depth and breadth of understanding in plant and soil science in the context of agricultural production systems. You will study subjects in soil biology and management, and plant health for growth and production. Students will also gain a detailed understanding of the drivers of plant industries and how management strategies can optimise yield and product quality.
The subjects comprising this major are subject to review in 2016 and may be altered for 2017.
With important input from industry experts and potential employers, our focus is on developing graduate agricultural scientists who are job ready from day one. Career opportunities for agricultural scientists exist in a range of areas, including:
- Animal production
- Biotechnology and genetics
- Policy, aid and development
- Resource economics and international trade
- Soil and water conservation
- Technical specialist
Subjects you could take in this major
This subject is about the application of economic analysis to public choices about alternative resource uses.
Physiology is the integrative study of the control of normal body function. This subject will examine the functions of different cell types and their interactions in organs and tissues; mechanisms by which organs are controlled and their functions are regulated; thermoregulatory processes and fluid balance; the physiology of the nervous system, of digestion, circulation, respiration, and excretion; the processes of growth and development, and factors that can be manipulated to alter animal performance under normal conditions.
An understanding of the chemical processes that occur in living organisms is essential to understanding how plants, animals and microbes function, and therefore the best management practices that will result in optimal health and productivity. This subject is designed to introduce students to the discipline of biochemistry, to allow them to develop a basic understanding of the biological chemistry underpinning function at the cellular and system levels. Topics covered will include: cellular structure and biochemical function, structure of biomolecules including proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, energy generating pathways, photosynthesis, metabolism, fixation and assimilation of nitrogen, transformation of metals, phosphorus and sulphur, comparative metabolism in ruminants and avians and the regulation of metabolism by hormones and isoprenoids.
This subject allows students to develop an awareness of the major physiological processes and metabolic basis of nutritional requirements; to understand the nutritional qualities of food, and develop skills to ensure a balanced diet can be formulated for a range of mammals; to be familiar with the impact of dietary imbalances; and to understand the role of food in behavioural, psychological and social contexts.
This subject involves completion of a minimum of 80 hours work placement integrating academic learning, employability skills and attributes and an improved knowledge of organisations, workplace culture and career pathways. The placement is supplemented by pre- and post-placement classes designed to introduce skills for developing, identifying and articulating employability skills and attributes and linking them to employer requirements. The placement should draw on specific discipline skills associated with the course of enrolment. Pre-placement seminars will also include consideration of career planning and professional skills.
Students are responsible for identifying a suitable work placement, prior to the start of semester, with support from the Subject Coordinator and Faculty Enrichment Officer. In the semester prior to the placement students should attend Melbourne Careers Centre (MCC) employment preparation seminars and workshops and access other MCC and Faculty resources to help identify potential host organisations http://www.careers.unimelb.edu.au/home. Students will need to commence their approaches to organisations at least 4 weeks before the placement. More information is available on the Faculty website: http://students.fvas.unimelb.edu.au/fvas-programs/industry-placements. Placements must be approved by the Subject Coordinator or Faculty Enrichment Officer prior to commencement. If you have problems finding a placement you should approach the Subject Coordinator or Faculty Enrichment Officer well in advance of the teaching period.
On completion of the subject, students will have completed and reported on a course-related project in a workplace. They will also have enhanced employability skills including communication, interpersonal, analytical and problem-solving, organisational and time-management, and an understanding of career planning and professional development.
The production of plant food and fibre involves the manipulation of plant growth and development to achieve desired levels of yield and quality. This subject considers how crop and pasture canopies grow by acquiring resources from the environment, how plants allocate resources to different growth processes, and how management and environment (including climate change) affect plant production in Australia and worldwide. Plant processes will be presented at the plant, canopy and community level, touching on the wider implications for water and nutrient management as they influence landscape processes such as salinity and soil acidification.
This subject introduces students to the major factors influencing the health of production animals. Students will learn the principles of disease, with a focus on non-infectious diseases. Students should develop an understanding of how management factors can influence the development of disease in production animals, and how the type of production system can alter the risk of disease.
This subject builds on the knowledge and skills developed in VETS20017 Principles of Production Animal Health 1. In this subject, students will further develop their understanding of the major factors influencing the health of production animals. Students will learn more details about specific pathogens that can infect the major production animal species in Australia The principles of public health, with particular reference to zoonotic diseases of concern in production animal systems, will also be introduced. Students can then integrate this knowledge with their previous knowledge from VETS20017 Principles of Production Animal Health 1 to explain in more depth how management factors can influence the development of disease in production animals, and how the type of production system can alter the risk of disease.
This subject includes a one-day residential at the Dookie campus which will occur during the mid-semester break.
This subject provides students with an introduction to a number of statistical techniques which are frequently used in agriculture, science and business situations. Course content will be set within the context of practical problems. Technology will be used to support statistical calculations.
Topics include an introduction to sampling techniques and experimental design; descriptive treatment of sample data; introduction to elementary probability and distributions; estimation and hypothesis testing of means and proportions; the chi-square distribution; simple and multiple regression and correlation; one-factor and two-factor analysis of variance; and use of statistical computer packages.
This subject will identify the importance of soil and water in the landscape and as key components of natural and production systems. A basic knowledge of soil properties and behaviour will be applied to understanding the cycling of water and nutrients, the appropriate use of fertilisers, irrigation and drainage and soil management practices designed to maintain or improve the condition of soil and water resources. The origin of soil variation in the landscape and codification of soil information through classification will be introduced.
The Australian food industry plays an important role in the Australian economy. The industry encompasses a number of segments from agricultural production, food processing and distribution through to retail sales. A key feature of the food industry is its diversity. The future of the industry will be affected by how well it responds to the changing demands of society.
This subject introduces students to food production systems and challenges them to create more sustainable approaches to this production. Topics include, food production in Australia - where it happens and why - how it is changing to meet both the needs of the environment and society, associated impacts on the sustainability of regional communities, trade and policy issues which impact on distribution, global food movements and ongoing changes and innovations in global food markets, as well as resource economics implications in developing and developed countries. Future implications of policy and legislative and other changes will be assessed in terms of their impact on the changing structure of food production in Australia.
In recent decades the importance of regulating water and its wider implications have been the subject of great debate. Water is no longer viewed solely in hydrological terms, where its supply and allocation are considered to be the only determinants important in understanding how it is regulated. Rather, of equal importance are the economic, environmental, political and social ramifications changing water allocation have on a catchment. In this subject the hydrological, economic, social, legal and environmental implications of controlling water in a catchment are evaluated in order to identify the trade-off between these factors and to suggest improvements that can be made in the understanding and management of this vital resource.
Success in animal enterprises and systems is a result of interdisciplinary interactions between animal, plant, climatic, human, risk and market factors. This subject aims to develop the skills required to analyse these interactions and support decision-making in animal enterprises. The subject is taught using problem-based learning by doing. Students will conduct system management case study analyses during the semester, and submit a detailed report on these. Each case study is based on an animal enterprise or system. Case study analysis will require students to clearly identify the problem to be solved and the context for problem solving (including business and personal goals of the owners/managers and their approach to management and decision making), analyse options for solving the problems and meeting goals, and prepare a report of their findings for the 'client'. Case study visits are supplemented by lectures and tutorials that develop the theory and practice of system thinking and analysis. The subject integrates biophysical science disciplines, management economics, and human systems elements. It is designed to enable students to work effectively with the owners and managers of animal businesses in bringing about change in their system.
This subject elaborates on the scientific basis of disease recognition in populations of animals. It explores causes of disease in animal populations, the mechanisms of disease processes and their transmission, principles of biosecurity, and the scientific basis of technologies and procedures available for monitoring disease status. Students will acquire skills in a variety of techniques used to monitor the health of populations of animals, and will develop abilities in critical analysis of animal health reports.
This subject expands on the themes developed in VETS30011 Animal Disease Biotechnology 1 and the role of animal health surveillance in maintaining the health of human populations. The subject may include industry placements, with opportunities to develop laboratory skills in areas such as haematology, biochemistry, serology, microbiology, molecular biology, anatomic pathology and toxicology.
This subject develops knowledge and understanding of systems for regulating body function, and physiological and behavioural processes that are utilised by animals in response to environmental challenges. This basis will allow students to evaluate and assess animal welfare and ethical issues that confront livestock production and amenity use of animals in society. The subject will also develop knowledge in adaptation, preference testing, cognition, and short and long-term biological responses.
Specific topics covered include;
- The current debate about animal usage and animal welfare
- Systems regulating the body (homeostasis, motivation and control systems, and development of regulatory systems)
- Limits to adaptation (stimulation, tolerance and coping, variation in adaptation)
- Stress and welfare (Selye’s concept of stress and refinements to the concept, coping and fitness, definition of welfare and its assessment)
- Assessing welfare using short-term and long-term biological responses
- Assessing welfare using preference testing
- Assessing welfare by studying cognitive skills
- Ethical problems concerning welfare
- Welfare issues in agriculture and the general community; and codes of practice for the welfare of livestock and welfare solutions
The aim of this subject is to give students of animal science a fundamental understanding of both applied reproductive biology and genetics. This will enable students to develop the skills necessary for management of reproductive performance and to implement genetic improvement of domestic animals. The content includes comparative structure and function of reproductive organs; endocrinology and neuro-endocrinology of reproductive cycles; environmental and genetic influences on reproduction, interventions to manipulate reproduction; reproductive biotechnologies including cloning; breeding values and selection indices; inbreeding and crossbreeding; applied animal genomics.
This subject provides students with the opportunity to apply the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired during their Bachelor of Agriculture degree to problem- based agricultural industry scenarios. Students will develop the capacity to undertake a ‘systems thinking’ approach to problems within the agricultural sector, and bring to their studies the understanding that they have developed throughout their studies of the multifactorial nature of decision making in agricultural settings- the environmental, economic, social and political factors that impact on system analysis and strategic decision making. They will also develop their skills in data management and modelling, team based problem solving, and oral and written communication. Students will work in small groups on weekly case studies and workshop-based activities with colleagues from each of the majors within the degree; working together to solve large scale industry issues across the agricultural sector. This subject provides the capstone learning experience of the Bachelor of Agriculture, with the aim of producing graduates well equipped to gain employment in the agricultural sector.
Field crop production is a major component of Australia’s economy, and landholders manage their resources to balance ecological, environmental and social demands. This subject discusses how these strategies are employed to produce high quality crop products.
- An appraisal of the cropping enterprises in southern Australia - the location, scale and nature of cropping enterprises and their contribution to the national economy
- Growth, development and yield in crop production - definitions and relations between growth and development attributes, yield and yield components, measurement of crop yields, biological and economical yield and harvest index (complemented by field exercises)
- Environmental constraints limiting productivity - climate and growing season, water and nutrient availability
- Agronomic management to optimise production and product quality, including water and nutrient management, soil management and rotations
- Problems and prospects of both dryland and irrigated crop production within farm systems, comparative cost-return analysis, marketing strategies
Pastures and grasslands comprise the dominant vegetation cover across the Australian continent. The way pastures and grasslands are managed is therefore central to the sustainable use of natural resources such as soil and water, as well as the economic development of the pasture-based livestock industries (meat and wool sheep, beef cattle, and dairy).
This subject will include:
- An overview of Australia's pasture and grassland resources
- The population biology of pasture plants, including the growth cycles of annual and perennial plants, and pathways of plant survival
- The major pasture plant species and pasture types, their agronomic and adaptive characteristics and management requirements
- Pasture improvement principles and practices
- Plant and pasture growth processes influencing the accumulation of yield in pastures, and implications for management
- The feeding and nutritive value of pastures and factors affecting animal intake
- The principles and practices of grazing management
The aim of this subject is for students of agricultural science and agricultural economics to understand the principles of management economics applied to the operation of agricultural business; to understand decision analysis under risk and uncertainty; to be able to model and analyse agricultural systems; to be able to analyse agricultural investment and evaluate the profitability and sources, and business risk and financial risk of alternative resource uses in agricultural businesses; evaluate business growth strategies; and understand agricultural price risk management strategies.
The content of the subject is as follows:
- The whole farm approach
- Farm business management
- Farm activity analysis
- Production economic and financial analysis
- Agricultural systems analysis
- Farm benefit cost analysis
- Risky decision analysis
- Agricultural risk management
A number of case studies will be completed based on real farm business situations.
Globally there is a broad range of issues identified as impacting on the future of our planet. These issues include climate change, water availability and quality, waste and recycling, energy, biodiversity, salinity and land degradation, biotechnology and genetically modified organisms, changing demographics, human and animal welfare issues. In order to bring about change globally these issues must be addressed at the regional and national level.
The long term future of our rural communities will depend on how we meet these challenges. This subject will explore these issues at the catchment level analysing how these issues impact on the catchment, practice change requirements, and develop strategies for decision making and implementation as well as critically evaluating environmental, social and economic implications of change.
On completion of this subject students should be able to:
Describe the scale and distribution of the major irrigation systems in south-eastern Australia
Evaluate plant water requirements in terms of water quality and frequency of supply
Apply basic principles of hydraulics to the selection of irrigation systems appurtenances and structures
Assess irrigation systems in terms of efficiency, economy, energy-use and environmental impact
Recognise the advantages and disadvantages of common irrigation systems
Recognise the need for efficient irrigation drainage as well as water supply
The content includes:
Water supply potential for the development of irrigation systems, management planning and operation of water allocations, water law, cost benefit analysis, environmental and energy-use implications of resource utilisation and development, efficiency of irrigation systems and long-term viability
Climatic factors in irrigation development, rainfall, evaporation, evapotranspiration and hydrology
Plant physiology and plant water use, transpiration crop water requirements in terms of water quality and quantity
Soils and water, soil moisture retention and movement, plant root zones and development, infiltration and leaching
Irrigation scheduling, soil moisture measurement
Types of irrigation systems, selection of irrigation systems, irrigation drainage, seepage, surface and subsurface drainage systems, salinity, conveyance and disposal of drained effluent, re-use systems, management of irrigation systems, operations and maintenance requirements
This subject aims to provide an introduction to the principles and practices in effective operation and improvement of the major livestock industries in Australia. This subject will cover:
- The major livestock industries in terms of size, distribution and value
- Factors that determine the location of the different industries in southern Australia
- Basic annual and seasonal cycles of production
- The feedbase for ruminant and non-ruminant industries
- Basic inputs and outputs, i.e. the roles of genetics, environment, nutrition, reproductive efficiency and health in setting the opportunities and constraints
- Practices that influence profitability, environmental impact
- Product quality
- New and emerging animal industries
- Current and future issues affecting industry development, e.g. welfare and human health concerns
This subject outlines the methods used to identify pathogens causing plant diseases, the consequences of diseases for plant productivity; and techniques used in breeding for plant disease resistance. The links between these two areas are explored as plant breeders and pathologists seek novel genetic material capable of resisting or tolerating plant pathogens.
Topics covered include:
- Taxonomy, identification and biology of the main groups of plant pathogens and abiotic causes of plant diseases
- Host pathogen relationships, and the nature of disease resistance and pathogenesis
- Methods to identify pathogens, and development of tools for diagnosis
- Processes leading to plant disease epidemics and their evaluation
- Principles and methodology of plant breeding for disease resistance
- Evolutionary processes and genetic variability of plant and pathogen populations
- World-wide distribution and conservation of plant genetic resources
- Methods of breeding self– and cross-pollinating plants
- Management and integrated control of plant diseases
Practical work includes:
- Identification and diagnosis of common diseases
- Development of skills in research techniques and methodology in plant pathology
This is a capstone subject which allows students to integrate the knowledge gained from their previous studies in the major in Production Animal Health and apply this to real world situations. Management practices to ensure optimal health and productivity will be covered in depth. Students will learn to interpret data from production systems in order to evaluate productivity, and then develop strategies for increasing the health and productivity of production animals. Students will develop an understanding of the financial limitations on production systems, and how health and management strategies must fit within an economical framework, otherwise the business is not viable.
There will be opportunities for industry placements and to participate in syndicate case-based scenarios. Students will be expected to gather and record data, and model this information in terms of indices of productivity. They will be expected to be able to benchmark these results against national industry standards, and to propose and evaluate strategies for improving productivity.
Students will be required to complete three weeks of work placement in production animal related industries.
Entry requirements for the Bachelor of Agriculture
The Clearly-in Rank is the lowest score at which students were granted entry in 2016. i
The Clearly-in Rank should be used as a guide for entry. It is not set in advance and may vary from year to year. The Clearly-in Rank is determined by the number of places available, the number of applicants listing the course as a preference and the academic achievement of those applicants.
Access Melbourne allows eligible students to be considered below the Clearly-in Rank. i
You must achieve the minimum ATAR (if indicated) to be considered for entry to this degree. The Clearly-in Rank may be above the Minimum ATAR, depending on the demand for the course and the number of places available.
Units 3 & 4: A study score of at least 25 in English/English Language/Literature or at least 30 in EAL, and at least 25 in Mathematical Methods (CAS) or Specialist Mathematics or at least 30 in Further Mathematics.