Passionate about creating an environmentally sustainable future? More than just providing the food on our tables, agriculture makes a significant contribution to the economic, social, and cultural fabric of society. The agricultural science major will set you up to make such a contribution.
With biology, chemistry, and mathematics and statistics underpinning this major, you will learn about agricultural systems analysis, plant health and the production and management of crops, livestock and grazing systems.
If you’re interested in Agricultural Science, you may also be interested in the Bachelor of Agriculture at Melbourne.
Studies in agricultural science will prepare you for careers in the agricultural sector in areas such as:
- Research and development
- Public and private extension agencies
- Government and policy agencies
- Private consulting companies.
Subjects you could take in this major
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.
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
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