Agrologist

What is an agrologist? Agrologists study agrology which is the practice of bioresource sciences in order to provide knowledge to support the development of the agriculture sector, environment, and the economy.

At a Glance

Imagine it's a brisk, breezy autumn morning, and you're standing in the middle of a rough pasture full of alfalfa and tall fescue grass. You are an agrologist and you’re examining how to make this pasture suitable for grazing sheep. 

You are aware that there are several factors to measure in order to determine how, and when, you can begin using this pasture as part of growing sheep farm awell as what this field needs to become a suitable pasture for the sheep.  

You’re interested in what's harder to see, namely the nutrient levels of the grass and alfalfa. By collecting samples from the pasture and testing their contentsyou can determine if the grazing sheep can acquire all the necessary dietary nutrients from the field alone or if they will need supplements.  

You are also checking whether the plants are infected with fungi or bacteria that could be toxic to your sheep, making sure there is adequate freshwater and evaluating the pasture’s general health and the abundance of growth 

In your job as an agrologist, you have spent a lot of time evaluating pastures and range-management plans for other ranchers, so you are confident you can do an excellent job with the land. 

Job Duties

Job duties vary significantly from one position to the next, but in general, agrologists are involved in the following activities:

  • Communicate with the research community to develop and extend new technologies and practices to producers for their agricultural businesses
  • Advise farmers and livestock producers on cropping and livestock practices that will improve their economic returns as well as protect environmental sustainability
  • Design and evaluate plans for land use, including the use of Crown land by livestock producers or improving degraded land bases
  • Foster the use of best management practices for farming and livestock production techniques, for example, pest and weed control and strategies for reducing disease
  • Collect and analyze samples and interpret the results
  • Work with producers to encourage soil testing and plant analysis to determine crop nutrient needs and match fertility programs with those needs
  • Participate in technology transfer and training activities
  • Prepare and conduct advisory information sessions and lectures for farmers, livestock producers, and other relevant groups
  • Evaluate crop performance as affected by weather, pests, and management practices, and on occasion, give evidence for insurance purposes
  • Strategize and collaborate with other stakeholder groups on land-use issues

Work Environment

Agrologists work in a variety of locations, including:

The office:

  • Doing paperwork, analyzing data, and preparing reports and articles
  • Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, colleagues, and experts in the field
  • Researching new technology and new advancements in agriculture and preparing recommendations
  • Participating in committees for policy development, regulation development, and research and educational program development

The field:

  • Inspecting and testing crops, soils, and livestock, and problem-solving with producers
  • Delivering presentations to farmers, agriculture businesses, etc., and participating in field tours and training sessions
  • Responding to requests from clients

Where to Work

There are a number of places to find agrology jobs. They include:

  • Agriculture consulting and farm management firms
  • Banks, agribusinesses, and farms
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Federal, provincial/territorial, or municipal government departments
  • Colleges and universities
  • Foreign aid agencies and international agriculture projects


Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Boad

Education and Skills

If you are considering a career as an agrologist, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • English
  • Chemistry
  • Economics

In most cases, the minimum education requirement is a university undergraduate degree.

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an agrologist, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Agronomy
  • Soil Science
  • Agriculture
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Environmental Management

To demonstrate their professional credibility, most provinces require agrologists to be certified, e.g., with the CCA and belong to a professional association such as the Alberta Institute of Agrologists.

Another certification that may prove useful for a career in agrology is our Environmental Professional (EP) designation.

Skills

Hard/Technical Skills (obtained through formal education and training programs)

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Budgeting process
  • Applied research
  • Microsoft Office
  • Databases and other software’s
  • Animal husbandry/science

Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)

  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work efficiently and independently
  • Organization and problem-solving skills
  • Familiarity with the industry and logistics of farm operations
  • Ability to analyze and synthesize information

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.

Education and Skills

Gary Rolston

"Being with nature, being able to spend time outside.” According to Gary Rolston, this is why he chose a career as an agrologist. As a young man growing up on a ranch in British Columbia’s interior, Gary always thought that a career in agriculture was a natural choice. But after graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in agricultural sciences, Gary moved to Alberta and took a job in farmland leasing. After several years, his love of farming and agriculture took him back to B.C., where he started working as a district agriculturist. Almost 20 years later, Garry is now the owner and operator of From the Ground Up. This Vancouver Island agricultural consulting firm stays true to the reason he chose agrology as a career in the first place. "From the Ground Up kind of explains it all. I want to be outside. I don’t want to be sitting at my desk.” Gary has worked on a number of different agrology related projects, including developing farm management plans, providing soil fertility recommendations to farmers, developing draining and irrigation plans for farms, and even developing elaborate greenhouse systems for clients. When Gary is in the field, he’s often in a supervisory role monitoring projects or interacting directly with clients to make sure their needs are met. This means he could be overseeing the application of biosolids (sewage sludge being used as fertilizer) onto a crop, or touring a new irrigation system with a farm owner answering his questions and ensuring the system is working properly. At his desk, Gary can be found working on spreadsheets for data analysis, writing project-specific reports, or researching trends or different agricultural practices. He enjoys the variety of responsibilities his job offers: "A lot of jobs nowadays are cookie-cutter and predictable, whereas when you’re dealing with Mother Nature, she’ll throw anything at you…there’s always variety.” There are a few negative aspects to Gary’s job. As a self-employed agrologist, he says "You can’t always schedule a regular eight-hour day and schedule holidays when you want to.” However, this pales in comparison to the positive aspects. «I just enjoy what I do. I invented it and there’s enough work now to keep me busy and to allow me to make a good living.” Gary is also proud that he is actively contributing to the environmental well-being of the Island. "There are a lot of conflicting land uses in south coastal B.C.” With so many industries vying for the same land on the island, Gary is happy to be able to apply his expertise to ensure the land is used efficiently and will be around for many future generations to enjoy.

Your Impact

Agrology is a growing profession that involves natural, economic, and social sciences to address issues such as food production and safety. Agrologists study commercial and native plant communities and livestock production to improve yields, while at the same time advocating sustainable farming and ranching methods.

People working as agrologists come from diverse fields including animal sciences, food sciences, soil sciences, natural resources, or environmental sciences.

Agrologists may also study farm, urban, and wilderness interfaces to find solutions to the challenge of competing demands on the land base, for example, wildlife habitat, timber, recreation, urban expansion, and livestock.

Most agrologists work as members of a team alongside other scientists and agriculture experts.

As an agrologist, your background in agriculture, natural sciences, and resource economics helps you collect and analyze data to design, evaluate and advise on the cultivation, production, improvement of aquatic or terrestrial plants or animals.

You are also involved in carrying out research or assessment to provide support in protecting, restoring, or managing marine or terrestrial ecosystems. You enjoy integrating information to come up with ground-breaking solutions to problems.

You have a keen interest in the environment and don’t mind getting your hands dirty doing fieldwork. You're confident in making recommendations regarding the improvement of soil, plants, and other agriculture-related activities.

Your research, assessment, and suggestions help firms in the agricultural and environmental field make informed decisions on managing crop production, farming, and other terrestrial plants or animals. These decisions create effective and sustainable long-term production and management in agricultural fields while promoting environmental health and safety.

Occupational Classification

Individuals employed as agrologists may be classified in the following occupational groupings:

  • NOC Code: 2123- Agricultural Representatives, Consultants, and Specialists
  • NOC Code: 0821 – Managers in Agriculture
  • NOC Code: 3213 – Animal Health Technologists and Veterinary Technicians
  • NOC Code: 8255 – Contractors and Supervisors, Landscaping, Grounds Maintenance and Horticulture Services
  • NOC Code: 2222 – Agricultural and Fish Product Inspectors
  • NOC Code: 2121 – Biologists and Related Scientists
  • NOC Code: 6221 – Technical Sales Specialist, Wholesale Trade

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.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

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