Story: Agricultural education
Agriculture is vital to New Zealand’s economy, so it is no wonder there are so many ways of learning how to be a good farmer – from on-the-job training to a university degree.
Full story by Robert Peden
Main image: Grit board game to teach children farming terminology and practices
The Short Story
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Since European settlement, New Zealand has been a farming country. Farmers want to have good skills, but people have had different ideas about the best way to get them – whether it should be on the job, or from university or other courses.
European farmers arrive
When European missionaries and settlers came to New Zealand, they brought their own ways of farming. They tried to keep up to date with the latest farming ideas, machinery and animal breeds, and formed clubs and groups to keep themselves informed. Māori also learned European farming techniques.
Learning about farming at school
Some children learned about farming at country schools and joined agricultural clubs. A few secondary schools had their own farms where students could learn about animals and crops.
There are two universities in New Zealand that teach and research farming: Lincoln University in Canterbury and Massey University, near Palmerston North. Both of them have large working farms, used for study and research.
Some people who want to be farmers go to training farms where they learn by doing practical work. They look after livestock, shear sheep, milk cows and grow crops.
There are several farming qualifications you can get. One of the most important is the National Certificate in Agriculture (Production Management), which takes at least four years to complete.
Getting farming advice
Most farmers like to keep up to date with new farming research and get advice from experts. The government used to have an advisory service, but now farmers can get advice from farm consultants and industry organisations.