Agricultural Scientist

Agricultural scientists or agriculturists study farming and endeavour to increase productivity. They look for ways to improve quality, but in a less labour-intensive way. They also try to conserve soil and water and make farming more safe and effective. 

Agricultural science is similar to biological science in that it makes use of Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology to solve agricultural problems. To obtain knowledge about biotechnology, agricultural food scientists often work closely with biological scientists. They communicate new ideas to farmers and technicians.

Agricultural scientists can specialise in various fields such as agronomy, biochemistry, zoology, physics, genetics, soil science, entomology, agricultural extension, agricultural meteorology, botany, dairy science, animal science, agricultural economy, agricultural engineering, pasture science, oenology and wildlife management.

The agricultural scientist concerned with crop science investigates field crop problems and develops new and improved growing methods to obtain higher yields or better quality. They may specialise in a specific crop, group of crops, production, weed and pest control or irrigation.

The agricultural scientist concerned with animal science conducts research on animals, and develops scientific methods of breeding, caring for, and managing farm animals. They specialise in certain types of animals, their breeding, physiology, or nutrition or the products of animals such as meat, butter or eggs.

Agricultural scientists work in a variety of environments, again depending on the specialisation; for example: office environments, in laboratories, test kitchens or dairies and outdoors, particularly when doing research. They use scientific equipment.

An agricultural technician processes the information from the agricultural scientist so farmers can use it. They advise farmers on farming methods. Sometimes they are involved in agricultural research. Farmers use existing knowledge to produce food and fibres without harming the environment. Training, counselling and research are important tasks of an agriculturist.

Personal Requirements

  • ability to perform research
  • ability to work independently
  • above average intelligence
  • creative and innovative thinker
  • interest in agriculture - soil, plants and animals
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • practical
  • patience and perseverance

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate (matric), or equivalent with a Bachelor's Degree pass
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences 

In addition, check the university admission requirements to see if you qualify for the programme you want to do.

What to Study

Degree: Most universities in South Africa offer a degree and diploma in Agriculture - UFS, UFH, UL, US, UKZN, UP, NMMU, NWU, UNISA

Diploma: N.Dip. is offered at TUT, CUT, DUT, NWU, UFH, UNISA, NMMU.


  • universities and colleges
  • government and private research institutes
  • animal food producers
  • Department of Agriculture
  • commercial organisations such as manufacturers of agricultural remedies
  • industrial companies
  • colleges and universities
  • organisations such as the CSIR and National Parks Board and SABS
  • control boards and agricultural unions
  • co-operatives
  • large farming undertakings
  • self-employment - as consultants, advisors and farmers

Further Information

Agricultural Research Council
1134 Park Street, Hatfield
Tel: (012) 427-9700

Department of Agriculture
Private Bag X250
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 319-6000

Agri SA
Block A, Inkwazi Office Park 1249 Embankment Road,
Centurion, Gauteng
Tel: (012) 643-3400

Getting Started

- try to obtain vacation work in an animal food manufacturing company
- develop scientific and business skills
- make an appointment to speak to an agricultural scientist on the job

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

Study Plant Pathology at Stellenbosch University

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