Reuben Carter

Job: Research Agronomist     Area: Mid Canterbury

Reuben Carter

Job Title: Research Agronomist

I was brought up on a Sheep and Beef farm in Opononi in Northland. After leaving school I completed an apprenticeship as a Mechanical Engineer, and then I completed a second apprenticeship as a Diesel Mechanic. After completing my second apprenticeship I went contracting for 18 months before reassessing my goals and realised I wanted to go farming. I went to Lincoln University to learn more about the financial and management side of farming. At Lincoln I developed a passion for plant science and farming systems. After finishing my degree at Lincoln I got the Graduate position with Agriseeds, progressing up the ladder to the position of Research Agronomist. 

Young Farmers Scholarship for excellence, Whangarei A&P Society, South Island Fieldays which paid for most of my University tuition fees. 

I took the opportunity to travel to Walgett NSW Australia during the 2010 university summer break for the harvest. This opportunity was hugely beneficial as it allowed me to experience large scale agriculture and experience different farming systems.

Through my job there are opportunities to travel overseas to research forage cultivars which could benefit New Zealands pastoral farming. There are opportunities to give advice to overseas farmers and gain experience in overseas farming systems.

What does your typical day involve?
My typical day is involves being part plant breeder, part farmer, part researcher and part extension officer. Looking after the pasture trials in my territory involves researching new cultivars and helping our plant breeders make selections that will improve production on farm. 

What do you like Most about job?
The thing I like most about my job is that I get to combining my passion for cropping and pasture production with my passion for animal production. 

What skills are needed to do job well?
An interest in agriculture, pasture production and farming systems is key. Being a team player is also important as you will be working with different industry entities to complete your research and then present the findings back to the farmers. Being able to have a conversation about anything from the sport over the weekend to what’s been happening on farm to what the markets are doing helps break the ice and build relationships with farmers and businesses. 

Qualifications needed:
Today most new agronomists need to have an agricultural or science degree, but this is not essential. Having a good understanding of plant science, research and farming systems can help a lot.

Is Farming background essential?
No a farming background is not essential for an Agronomy role. If you have a passion for working outdoors, working with farmers to improve their farming systems, enjoy animal production and enjoy agricultural research you have what it takes to be an Agronomist. 

What advice would you give to young people?
If you are going to go to University do something you enjoy as this makes study easier and you will do well. Get as much experience across a variety of industries, dairy, sheep and beef, cropping and allied industry. Getting this experience gives you some knowledge across most of the industries and gives you a chance to experience different careers before you get a full time job. 

What are your future goals?
My future goals are to use my knowledge to build my stock numbers within my sheep stud and build enough equity to buy a drystock and cropping property. 

Back to The Real World
Ruben Carter

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: Horticulture, Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Engineering, English, Maths, Statistics

University: Bachelor of Agriculture with a Major in Plant Science (Plant Production) from Lincoln University