Imagine standing in the middle of a large tomato field on a crisp spring day, rows and rows of bright green vines stretching dozens of metres on all sides. You are an agriculture technician for this district, and you are here to examine the crop for signs of pests.
A large part of your job each spring and summer is to examine fields like this one to determine what types of weeds and insects are present in each field.
In doing so, you and your team can advise farmers on the exact type of pesticide they should be using on their fields, as well as the proper dosage. Not only does this save money for the farmers, you are also contributing to sustainable agriculture practices. By ensuring only the necessary pesticides are used in the proper dosages, you help to eliminate overuse and reduce the risk of soil and water contamination and the growth of resistant species.
As one of the district's agriculture technicians, you are very familiar with the different crops grown in the area and you know what to look for when inspecting for pests.
Conditions this spring have been ideal for infestations of spider mites, and you've found evidence of the tiny creatures in the other three tomato fields you have visited this week.
You start your inspection by looking for signs of mites with your magnifying glass, taking careful notes of what you see.
In addition to the mites, you look for other common pests, such as worms and aphids, and different weeds that might be growing in the field. You won't be checking every tomato plant today, but rather random sampling of plants at various locations within the field.
You will gather data on the weed and insect species you see and take this information to the district's agronomist.
You will then discuss the findings with the agronomist, and together you will prepare a list of recommendations for the farmer, advising on the proper insecticide to eliminate the spider mites and the proper herbicide to control the weeds.
Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an agriculture technician:
As an agricultural technician you will be working in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:
In the lab:
In the office:
In the field:
Agriculture technicians can find work in a variety of places such as:
Search for jobs on the ECO Canada job board.
If you are a high school student considering a career as an agriculture technician you should have strong marks or an interest in:
In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an agriculture technician/technologist is a technical diploma. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an agriculture technician/technologist, the following programs are most applicable:
In most provinces, it is not necessary to be certified in order to work as an agriculture technician or technologist, though some practitioners may choose to become certified or apply for professional status. The requirements for certification vary among provinces.
You may also find our Certified Environmental Professional (EP) designation useful.
Hard/ Technical Skills (skills obtained through formal education and training programs)
Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)
Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.
The most interesting part of his job for Patrick Ménard is the "human element." "We develop a relationship with our clients, the farmers, on the job. Also, I enjoy being able to work outdoors, especially during the summer months." "My job is very diverse and changes with the seasons. In the summer we work mostly outdoors, checking the state of our clients' (the farmers) fields and working on conserving resources-preventing soil erosion.
During the winter we work closely with farmers to provide them with farm-produce plans. This takes about three days to one week for each client." "We work on the computer using air photos of the client's land to determine the quantity of land surface, the contours of the fields, the exact location of fields, etc." Patrick's job focuses on change over the long term. "We like to take a slow approach to change, using testing and training to help bring changes in farming habits about.
We check fields for erosion that is caused by the slope or angle of the fields, and based on that we suggest new ways of working the soil." To maintain the soil, Patrick encourages farmers to use proper aeration techniques, keep residues on the ground and use different planting techniques. Patrick trained for his position through a three-year college/CEGEP program and studies at an agricultural college in Quebec.
Agriculture technicians work closely with producers and researchers to support the productivity and sustainability of Canada’s agriculture industry.
Work with related scientists to conduct research, development, and testing on food and other agricultural products, agricultural technicians are involved in food, fibre, and animal research, production, and processing.
Some conduct tests and experiments to improve the yield and quality of crops or to increase the resistance of plants and animals to disease, insects, or other hazards. Other agricultural technicians breed animals for the purpose of investigating nutrition.
The many responsibilities of the agricultural technician include analyzing, recording, and compiling test results; ordering supplies to maintain laboratory inventory; and cleaning and sterilizing laboratory equipment.
As the world's population grows, it is important to improve the quality and quantity of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians evaluate how the environment impacts crops and use this information to improve an operation's overall production. They work at the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments.
Individuals employed as agricultural technicians may be classified as:
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data, describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.
The NOC is developed and updated in partnership with Statistics Canada to coincide with the 5- year census cycles. It is based on in-depth occupational research and consultations conducted across Canada, to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market.
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