Agricultural technicians assist the agriculturists in their work and help with the collection of information. They also give practical advice and information to the farming industry.
Agricultural technicians assist agriculturists and farmers with a variety of tasks related to different aspects of agriculture. These include planning, research and the application of agricultural knowledge. They help farmers to make the best use of their land without damaging it and may suggest terracing land in the event of erosion or growing hedges to act as windbreaks.
They set up or maintain laboratory equipment such as spectrometers, nitrogen determination apparatus, air samplers, centrifuges and pH meters to perform tests, and collect samples from crops or animals so testing can be performed. They prepare specimens or record data to assist scientists in biology or related life science experiments, and examine animals and specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems. They maintain or repair agricultural facilities, equipment or tools to ensure operational readiness, safety and cleanliness.
They serve as technical advisers on soil and water conservation committees, and prepare data summaries, reports or analyses that include the results, charts or graphs to document research findings and results. They assist veterinary surgeons and farmers in the treatment of diseases and the general handling of animals. They also instruct on the classification and grading of skins, wool and mohair.
There are three main kinds of agricultural technicians:
Agricultural resource technicians: they work together with the agricultural resource officer and are involved in the classification, description and plotting of a region’s natural resources.
Agricultural extension technicians: they assist the agricultural extension officer, collecting agricultural information to determine the needs for agricultural extension. This information is then used to plan agricultural extension activities. They are also involved in the classification of agricultural resources and the planning of farms. They advise farmers on specific farming methods.
Agricultural research technicians: they help the agricultural researcher with their research but can also undertake their own research project in one of the following fields: Botany, Agricultural Microbiology, Analytical Chemistry, Zoology, Veterinary Science, Food Technology, Agricultural Meteorology and Soil Science.
Some engineering technicians, namely civil, mechanical, electrical / electronic and civil agricultural engineering technicians, are also involved in the agricultural industry. They use their knowledge of engineering to solve problems with regard to irrigation schemes, soil conservation, agricultural structures, agricultural mechanisation and the use of electronics and electricity.
Schooling & School Subjects
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences.
National Senior Certificate with a minimum of a Diploma pass.
Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Diploma: NMMU, TUT, CUT, UNISA
To become an agricultural resource technician or an agricultural extension technician, the minimum requirement is the NDip. Agriculture: Resource Utilisation offered at the universities of technology of Mangosuthu and Pretoria.
To become an agricultural research technician, any of the following diplomas at a university of technology will lead to eventual qualification:
N.Dip. Agricultural Research: Botany;
N.Dip. Nature Conservation;
N.Dip. Analytical Chemistry;
N.Dip. Agriculture: Animal Production;
N.Dip. Veterinary Technology; or
N.Dip. Food Technology.
Engineering technicians need a National Diploma in Electrical, Civil or Mechanical Engineering.
A candidate can also apply to join the government service as a pupil technician. Theoretical training is offered by universities of technology for a part of each year. The rest of the training period is devoted to practical work. At the end of each year of training, examinations are conducted and on the successful completion of the 3-year course the National Diploma for Technicians is issued. After obtaining diplomas, pupil technicians are promoted to technician positions.
SA Society for Agricultural Technologists
Tel: (018) 299-6538
Agricultural Research Council
1134 Park Street, Hatfield
Tel: (012) 427-9700
Department of Agriculture
Private Bag X250
Tel: (012) 319-6000