Over the past 50 years, global food production has trebled, largely as a result of advances in agronomy. In spite of this, if the world is to adequately feed its growing population, food production needs to be trebled yet again over the next 45 years! Today, food and energy shortages loom large across the world.
Agronomy is the applied aspects of both soil and plant sciences dealing with field crops and pastures. It is therefore, directly responsible for the production of most food and fibre consumed and utilised by people and livestock, and thus, is fundamental to productive and sustainable agriculture and livestock production. Agronomy includes aspects such as plant breeding, crop and pasture establishment and persistence, plant nutrition, plant protection (weed, insect and disease ecology and management), and farm design. At the University of New England, agronomy is linked closely to studies of soil chemistry, soil physics, soil biology and soil water use.
There are some formidable challenges for the agronomist in meeting the future demands for food security without significant environmental costs. Climate change, pesticide resistance and water supply are obvious challenges, but the rising cost of fertiliser, fuel and the potential competition for carbon between food, biofuels and soil health are likely to intensify. There is a great need for energy and water efficient agricultural systems. Research and training in agronomy will be essential in providing innovative solutions to these challenges.
Why Study Agronomy at UNE?
UNE is one of Australia's leading university providers of undergraduate and postgraduate agricultural education, having an enviable 5 star rating for student satisfaction and being uniquely located with ready access to cropping, horticulture and pasture field sites for teaching and research. We have over 150 students taking agronomy units each year taught by lecturers with a broad range of expertise across crops, pastures, soils and farming systems. In addition to teaching into interdisciplinary units we provide a sequence of specialised agronomy units to take the student from the basics of the ecology and adaptation of agricultural plants (crops, pastures and weeds) to solving complex real-world agronomic problems caused by variable climatic conditions, nutrient deficiencies, crop diseases, weeds, insect pests, physiological disorders and pesticide damage.
We also train postgraduate research students to PhD level in a diverse range of fields including plant nutrition and fertiliser management, crop and pasture production, plant breeding, weed, disease and insect pest ecology and management, horticulture, and organic agriculture.
Because of the central role of agronomy in many environmental and agricultural issues we work closely in our teaching and research with staff and students from other disciplines at UNE as well as with government agencies and industry. We are involved in the Cotton and Weed Cooperative Research Centres and are the providers of specialised courses at the Graduate Certificate level for the cotton and grains industries. The joint Primary Industries Innovation Centre (PIIC) between the NSW Department of Primary Industries and UNE, and incorporating the new national Greenhouse Office, is based with the Agronomy and Soil Science groups, focusing on issues within the realm of climate change and sustainable agriculture. Students studying agronomy at UNE benefit because of these linkages and expertise.
Explore our weeds and cotton course websites.
Advanced Diploma in Agriculture - not offered to new students in 2011
Bachelor of Agriculture
Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Business
Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Animal Science
Bachelor of Engineering Technology
Bachelor of Environmental Science
Bachelor of Environmental Science/Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Livestock Science - no longer offered
Bachelor of Natural Resources - no longer offered
Bachelor of Natural Resources/Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning - not offered to new students in 2011
Bachelor of Rural Science
Bachelor of Science
Diploma in Agriculture
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Resource Science
Master of Rural Science
Graduate Certificate in Natural Resources
Graduate Certificate in Rural Science
Graduate Diploma in Natural Resources
Graduate Diploma in Rural Science
Master of Agriculture
Master of Environmental Management
Master of Natural Resources
Master of Science in Agriculture
Professional Doctorate in Science - no longer offered
AGRO211 – Ecology and Adaptation of Agricultural Plants
AGRO223 – Crop Physiology and Agricultural Ecology
AGRO311 – Plant Protection
AGRO321 - Crop and Pasture Management for Sustainable Agriculture
AGRO422/522 – Integrated Weed Management
AGRO514 – Plant Biosecurity
COTT300/500 - Applied Cotton Production
COTT301/501 - Cotton Crop Protection
COTT302/502 - Cotton and the Environment
COTT303/503 - Cotton Farm Systems and Technology Transfer
GRNS300/500 – Agronomy of Grains Production
GRNS301/501 - Grain Crop Protection
GRNS302/502 - Grains and the Environment
GRNS303/503 – Grain Farming and the Industry Systems
Other units under Soils and Agricultural Systems also cover various other aspects of Agronomy.
There is a marked shortage of agronomy graduates and so agronomists find ready employment in a diverse range of jobs particularly associated with the grazing and cropping industries. Positions are being filled in:
agronomic advisory work with government departments of primary industries, agricultural produce companies and private agricultural consulting firms;
banks, pastoral firms and stockfeed, chemical and fertilizer companies:
farm, feedlot and other property management;
Commonwealth departments such as Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Foreign Affairs and Trade; AQIS, ABARE and Bureau of Resource Sciences;
plant breeding companies, agricultural marketing groups, livestock societies and machinery manufacturing companies;
Catchment Management Authorities, Landcare and other natural resource management organizations;
research with universities, CSIRO and other government and research agencies; and
education with secondary schools, TAFEs, universities and other training providers.
UNE has a new state-of-the-art glasshouse complex and several properties on which research and teaching are undertaken, the closest of which are adjacent to the campus, with farming equipment suitable for small and large scale agronomic trials. There are excellent laboratories for plant nutrition and crop protection research. Analytical facilities include ICP-OES, ion chromatograph, Carlo-Erba-MS CNS analyser, NIRS, GC-MS and HPLC. We have a range of field and laboratory equipment for measuring soil structure, soil mechanical properties, and soil water (neutron probes, TDR, capacitance probes, pressure plates).
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For further information about studying soil science contact: