Agricultural extension is the application of scientific research and knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education.

Agricultural extension plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth.

An extension worker is usually a technically trained person with excellent people skills. They enjoy working with people, can deal with complex technical and social situations, are holistic thinkers, good problem solvers and have excellent empathy skills.

Extension officer conducting in the field training

The following tasks are common in Extension

Extension is an education process so extension workers need to understand how people learn and how to influence them in order to change behaviour.  An extension agent educates people to recognise and find solutions to complex agricultural problems.

Extension workers are also often involved in field research and development programs; as well as promotion and marketing.

Some industries that employ Extension specialists

A diverse range of on-farm and off-farm career opportunities exist for people with training in agricultural extension, in the areas of:

  • Agricultural research and development with government agencies and agribusiness groups
  • Land management extension with CMAs, farming groups etc.
  • Rural policy development with major financial companies and multi-national agribusiness organisations
  • Social and regional policy development with government agencies and agribusiness groups

For more information on this career path see The Australia – Pacific Extension Network.

Aptitudes for this career?

High level communication skills and a passion for agriculture and sustainable farming practice. Working, at times, in isolated rural areas, and reliability, both in terms of carrying out extension work and being sensitive and respectful. Public speaking is also a key skill which the extension agent will be called upon to practice frequently.

Planning this career path

Aspiring agricultural extension agents must a Bachelor’s degree at minimum, and a Master’s degree is preferred for many positions. Further coursework that provides training in communications, technology, public relations, agricultural marketing, and life sciences prepares the aspiring extension agent well for this career path.

Further information - Sustainable Farming

Course Choices

Choose any UNE agriculture degree and include AGEX310 Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension.