Agronomy Project

Menu: Click across the green arrows to view active and completed project stages. Consultation takes place at every stage of the project.

Case for change

Agronomy is a key skill area for supporting the longevity and competitiveness of Australian agriculture. While university level education produces scientists capable of guiding soil management and field crop production, industry has expressed the need for graduates with more technical and applied skills. Initial scoping in 2017 identified that private sector enterprises were most in need of this kind of expertise, with needs of large and public sector organisations being met by University programs.

The only current qualification on scope is the Victorian Accredited Course 22273VIC Diploma of Agronomy. Feedback from industry suggests this program is useful and could be beneficial in informing the development of a national qualification.

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project out of the 2019-2022 Agriculture and Production Horticulture IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work (see pages 21-26).

Skills Impact and the Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 21-26)

Project Plan

Australia is one of the most food secure nations on earth, growing 93% of its own food supply (National Farmers Federation). The science of agronomy plays a key role in this, studying how environmental influences can impact the growth and use of plants and animals for food, fibre, fuel and land reclamation.

Agronomists may consider soil, nutrition, weather, cultivation techniques and a range of other factors in order to improve the productivity and sustainability of agricultural practices. In this way, they assist farmers to achieve the best long-term results from the land.

In a country where drought is a recurring factor, being able to adapt to weather events is paramount. Practical skills in agronomy can help put research into practice to achieve this, but there is a shortage of people with the technical expertise. While the Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business has observed an increase in demand for agricultural scientists and consultants, The Victorian Skills Commissioner notes that staff and specialists with expertise in Agronomy are difficult to find.

Project Scope

The purpose of this project is to establish a nationally recognised Diploma of Agronomy and the units within it, to broaden the training opportunities in this field. It will consider the contents of the current Victorian accredited diploma.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

Relevant Occupations

The Diploma of Agronomy will open pathways towards the business and management of agricultural enterprises, as well as in the applied fields of soil management and advanced crop production. It will also allow farmers and horticulturalists to develop skills in this area, giving them the tools to make more informed decisions. Qualifications in agronomy also provide opportunities for consultancy and sales organisations. Examples of job roles that relate to this qualification include:

  • Agronomist
  • Agronomy or Agricultural Consultant
  • Horticulturist
  • Farmer
  • Organic Farmer
  • Farm Manager
  • Production Horticulture Manager
  • Horticulture Manager
  • Sustainable Fruit and Vegetable Farmer
  • Farm Supervisor
  • Fruit and Vegetable Farm Supervisor
  • Mushroom Farm Supervisor
  • Irrigation Master Technician
  • Senior Farmhand

Timeline

June – mid August 2019
Initial scoping

mid August – mid September 2019
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

mid September – mid October 2019
Drafts available for broad consultation

December 2019
Validation of final drafts

January – February 2020
Finalisation of Training Package components

March – mid June 2020
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

June 2020
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Project Team

Lucinda O’Brien, Industry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact

lucinda@skillsimpact.com.au

Andrew Horgan Industry Engagement Manager, Skills Impact

andrew@skillsimpact.com.au

Peter Miller Industry Skills Standard Contractor

Subject Matter Experts

Subject Matter Experts will be drawn on throughout this project to help review and draft the revised units, skill sets and qualifications.

If you are interested in applying to be a subject matter expert and are able to volunteer your time to this project, please email details of your expertise to lucinda@skillsimpact.com.au

Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in September 2019, and again for validation of final drafts in December 2019. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the qualifications, skill set and units. It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The qualifications, skill sets and units need to reflect real work experience. So if you work in the sector, Skills Impact would love your input and help. Please feel free to register your interest for project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link below. Alternatively, please feel free to contact the project manager, Lucinda O’Brien on 03 9321 3526 or lucinda@skillsimpact.com.au.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations during the development of this project to seek their involvement and their views on the draft qualifications, skill sets and units.

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

Of course, all and any interested industry participants are encouraged to engage in the consultation of this project, when the draft qualifications, skill sets and units are available for feedback via this webpage and workshops that take place around Australia. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list. This list simply helps us to identify those organisations that, because of their industry role, size or specialty, are likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project.

The Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project, as part of their responsibilities to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure projects meet industry stakeholder needs.

 

Development

The science of agronomy plays a pivotal role in ensuring the productivity and sustainability of agricultural practices. Agronomists consider how environmental factors like soil, nutrition, weather, and cultivation techniques can impact the growth of animals and plants for food, fibre, fuel and land reclamation. There is industry demand for workers with practical skills in agronomy to put this science into practice, however no nationally endorsed training is currently available.

As part of this project, work is now underway to develop a nationally recognised Diploma of Agronomy. In August, a workshop was held with stakeholders and subject matter experts who work directly in the agronomy field. This meeting described the required functions, roles and tasks of an agronomist and identified units of competency to cover these needs. Particular focus was placed on skills to capture and interpret data and perform analysis, to support effective communication and implementation of agronomy science.

For further details about the drivers, scope and timeline of the project, click on the green project stage arrows above.

Consultation Workshops – Registrations Open!

Thank you to those stakeholders that have been involved and provided feedback and advice so far. The revised draft skill sets and units will be made available on this webpage for public consideration and feedback from mid-September to mid-October 2019 (under the ‘Drafts Available’ menu above). Face-to-face consultation workshops will also take place across states and territories, with a webinar planned for those unable to attend in person. Registrations for these workshops are now open. Register for a workshop near you by clicking the corresponding link.

Face-to-face consultation workshops

Tues 17 Sept 19, 9am to 11am AEDT – Mildura – register here

Mon 23 Sept 19, 10am to 12pm AEDT – Launceston – register here

Wed 25 Sept 19, 9am to 11am ACST – Adelaide – register here

Thurs 26 Sept 19, 9am to 11am AEDST – Sydney – register here

Tues 8 Oct 19, 9am to 11am AEST – Brisbane – register here

Wed 9 Oct 19, 9am to 11am AEST – Cairns – register here

Thurs 10 Oct 19, 9am to 11am AEDST – Melbourne – register here

Tue 15 Oct 19, 9am to 11am ACST – Darwin – register here

Thurs 17 Oct 19, 9am to 11am AWST – Perth – register here

Consultation webinar

Wed 16 Oct 19, 9.30am to 10.30am AWST – Webinar – register here

Proposed qualification and units of competency for development and review

Following input during workshops with subject matter experts, the following qualification and units of competency are proposed for development and review. Drafts of these documents will be made available in mid-September 2019.

Proposed new qualification

Diploma of Applied Agronomy

Proposed new skill set

Digital Agronomy Skill Set

Proposed new unit

Design and manage a crop and pasture nutrition program – title to be confirmed

Units to review

AHCBAC503 Manage integrated crop and pasture production

AHCBAC504 Plan and manage a stored grain program

AHCBAC507 Develop production plans for crops

AHCBAC508 Apply plant biology to agronomic practices

AHCWRK503 Prepare reports

AHCWRK505 Manage trial and research material

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Drafts Available

Agronomists are skilled at considering all environmental factors and asking the right questions to provide advice to growers and farmers on how to maximise their production. They consider how factors like soil, nutrition, weather, and cultivation techniques can impact the growth of animals and plants for food, fibre, fuel and land reclamation. This is why there is a current need for more Agronomists with practical skills. They have a positive affect on many agricultural sectors, supporting growers and farmers to achieve the best long-term results from the land.

Consultation has focused on the practical and hands-on expertise required to put the research of agronomy into practice, such as the skills and knowledge to address emerging changes in technology, as well as to plan, capture and interpret data and to preserve natural resources.

A Diploma of Applied Agronomy and Digital Agronomy Skill Set have been developed to embed these skills needs. Existing units of competency have also been reviewed and revised. Two new units have also been developed for designing and managing a crop and pasture nutrition program and for interpreting and implementing agricultural data.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the draft units of competency and qualification that were made available on this webpage for feedback from 16 September – 20 October 2019.

During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, nine consultation workshops, a webinar and email. The drafts, including any comments made on the feedback hub, are still available for viewing below.

The qualification, skill set and units were drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts. Visits to growers, farmers and other people working directly in agricultural industries took place in June and August 2019 to learn about the skills and knowledge required of an agronomist.

Feedback will inform the work on the final drafts which are expected to available for industry validation in December 2019. A summary of the feedback and how it was addressed in the final drafts will also be available.

New qualification providing the skills and knowledge required for agronomist roles in the agricultural industry.

AHC5XX20 Diploma of Applied AgronomyView draft qualification

 

The draft document can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

This new skill set includes the skills and knowledge required for agronomists to provide digital agronomic advice and expertise. It set builds on the skills and knowledge attained in AHC5XX20 Diploma of Applied Agronomy.

AHCSS000XX Digital Agronomy Skill SetView draft skill set

 

The draft document can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Unit code and nameRationaleReview & Feedback
AHCBAC5XX Design and manage a crop and pasture nutrition programDeveloped to cover the skills and knowledge required to analyse characteristics, determine nutrient requirements, design a nutrient management plan, and monitor and evaluate a crop and pasture nutrition program.View draft unit
AHCXXX5XX Interpret and implement agricultural dataDeveloped to cover the skills and knowledge required to identify, interpret, implement and review agricultural data, identify and address data gaps, and monitor agricultural operations.View draft unit

 

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Proposed changes to the following units include:

  • Minor changes to application.
  • Minor edits to elements in some units and various changes and edits to Performance Criteria (PC).
  • Inclusion of foundation skills.
  • Assessment Requirements updated to include the frequency and or volume for performance evidence.
  • Minor edits to performance evidence and knowledge evidence in some units.
  • Specific conditions provided within the assessment conditions.
AHCBAC503 Manage integrated crop and pasture productionView draft unit
AHCBAC504 Plan and manage a stored grain programView draft unit
AHCBAC5XX Develop production plans for crops and pastures (previously known as AHCBAC507 Develop production plans for crops)View draft unit
AHCBAC508 Apply plant biology to agronomic practicesView draft unit
AHCWRK503 Prepare reportsView draft unit
AHCWRK505 Manage trial and research materialView draft unit

 

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here.

Summary of consultation to date

Visits to growers, farmers and other people working directly in agricultural industries took place to learn about the skills and knowledge required of an agronomist. By seeking workplace job advice we hope to identify the skills standards for hands-on expertise in agronomy, supporting the future skills development of this job role and the industry sectors they positively contribute to. The qualification, skill set and units have been drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) through face-to-face meetings and email communication to assist with industry-specific language and content requirements. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

 

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

 

Validation

This stage has not yet commenced

Finalisation

This stage has not yet commenced