More undergraduate students are choosing to major in agricultural science at The University of Western Australia compared with three years ago.
Director of The UWA Institute of Agriculture, Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique, said all enrolled students had the opportunity to study key issues related to global agriculture, which helps prepare students for employment in a rapidly changing world.
“The change has led to an increasing trend of high calibre students opting to take a single agriculture major, or combining their agriculture studies with economics, environmental science or natural resource management,” Professor Siddique said.
Dean UWA Faculty of Science, Professor Tony O’Donnell said this meant that around 400 first-year students are now exposed to agriculture and its importance for food and nutritional security.
“It was always expected that exposing students to agriculture through UWA's new course structure would encourage more students into agricultural science,” Professor O’Donnell said.
Enrolments in the third-year undergraduate units, Clean, Green and Ethical Animal Production and Agricultural Systems doubled to 34 students in each unit in 2015.
Associate Professor Dominique Blache from UWA’s School of Animal Biology and Institute of Agriculture who coordinates the Clean, Green and Ethical Animal Production units said the units were designed to understand how best to strike a balance between the biology of the animal production and the constraints of the farming environment.
“The unit structures facilitate interactive teaching through workshops partly run by industry professionals, based on tools used by the industries to address topics such as farm models, climate change and bioenergetics,” Professor Blache said.
“Students also visit UWA’s Farm Ridgefield near Pingelly where they have the opportunity to test their ability to think on the ground and exchange ideas with livestock producers and academics from all aspects of agriculture.”
The Agricultural Systems unit, coordinated by Dr Ken Flower and Associate Professor Megan Ryan from the School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture, introduces students to the main temperate crop and pasture species in Western Australia, and uses a systems approach to provide an understanding of the relationships between crops, pastures, weeds, plant disease and environment.
“This understanding is placed in a real-world context through field trips to commercial farms in the grainbelt and through an assignment where each student approaches a farmer, visits their farm, describes their farming system and identifies potential areas for innovation,” Dr Flower said.
Professor Kadambot Siddique (UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 7012 / (+61 4) 11 155 396
David Stacey (UWA Media and PR Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716