Monday, April 30, 2007

Exploring Careers in Agriculture

When browsing the career possibilities involving the agriculture sector, you will encounter two main approaches to the field: crop production and animal production. Depending on the location you wish to pursue your career in agriculture, a variety of factors will affect your success. Climate and land conditions are some of the most important aspects to consider when working with livestock or crops. Knowledge of the industry is also needed to successfully make a living in the world of agriculture.

Jobs in Animal Production

As you scan the jobs associated with the animal production industry, you may find work by establishing or seeking employment at a farm that raising livestock. Beef cattle, hogs, and sheep are just some of the main animals a farm may tend to. Dairy farms are also quite profitable as milk and other calcium-filled products like butter and cheese are important stables in the American and Canadian diet. Farmers may also turn to developing a poultry or egg farm. Specialty farms are also established across the country, which manufacture products made from bees (apiaries) or aquaculture (fish farms).

Jobs in Crop Production

When considering a career in crop production, your location and climate conditions will determine the best crop to pursue. The growing of grains, such as barley, corn, and wheat are just some of the ways a farmer may approach this line of work. Field crops are also popular, which includes tobacco, cotton, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and flowers.

Depending on the type of business you wish to work in, you should familiarize yourself with some of the locations better suited for various types of crops and livestock. For example, warmer climates in California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona are better suited for the production of oranges and other citrus fruit. The climate in northern states in the U.S. accommodates apple, blueberry, and maple syrup production. Major products associated with the Plains States include potatoes, grains, and range-fed cattle.

Common Agricultural Duties

When entering the field of agriculture, there is work to be done throughout the year, especially when it comes to raising animals. For instance, dairy farms where cows thrive produce never-ending tasks to complete on a daily and yearly basis. Cows need to be fed each day, milked, and have their stalls cleaned. Workers are needed to take animals out to graze and exercise. The planting, harvesting, and storing of crops (like corn or hay) is needed to sustain the cattle throughout the year.

A variety of additional duties are associated with a ranch or farm, whereas herds need vaccinations, fences need mending, and cattle require branding. On chicken farms, eggs may need manual attention or people to tend to conveyor belt systems. Employees are needed to stack cartons of eggs into boxes, transfer to trucks, and prepare shipments. Many farmers and ranchers may need to acquire a variety of skills that aid in the operation and maintenance of a farm or business. A basic knowledge of carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, and electricity comes in handy when working on a farm. These skills are usually obtained by attending a trade school classes.

Outside of owning and working a farm, there are additional agricultural careers to consider. Farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers showcase a working knowledge of soil testing, crop rotation, and the purchase of necessary machinery, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, energy, and labor. Some individuals choose careers in caring for plant nurseries or running greenhouses. A job at a nursery may include duties, such as staking, planning, watering, and weeding out trees and plants.

Agricultural Education

Depending on the type of career you follow, many different areas of specialization allow students to pursue a variety of Agricultural Sciences majors, such as Horticulture, Animal Science, Equine Science, and Agricultural Business. Some of the courses you may encounter include options, such as Principles of Soil Science, Forage Crops, Plant Nutrition, Principles of Animal Agriculture, Animal Reproduction, and the Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals.

When it comes to making a living in the field of agriculture, you will find that the median weekly earning for some of the more popular jobs in the industry includes $621 (for farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers), $465 (for logging workers), $350 (hand packers), and $300 (farmers and ranchers). Additional salaries associated with careers in agriculture include: agricultural inspector ($24,437-$54,219), nursery or greenhouse manager $25,705-$54,889), ranch manager ($31,168-$44,527), and farm equipment mechanic ($22,278-$50,451).

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