Agriculture a career for everyone: High school resources

Page last updated: Friday, 9 August 2019 - 11:19am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) supports the growth of the state's agrifood sector in four key areas: markets, productivity, profitability and people.   Funded by the state government's Royalties for Regions program, the department has developed six curiculum packages to help students explore the tasks, activities and careers in agriculture.  The packages have been developed for primary school students in years nine to ten. Each package aligns with the requirements of one or more elements of the Australian Curriculum.


These curriculum packages are intended to help high school students develop an understanding of the different careers in agriculture while supporting curriculum activities. There are thousands of different careers and jobs in agriculture.  These packages are based around six broad categories of work or professional development that students may consider.  

These include:

To find out more go to the Careers in food and fibre pages.

Each package is provided in different formats for ease of use and adaptation for class needs.

The 'Careers in agriculture' curriculum packages for high school students are:

An international career in wheat and grains

Lesson overview

Grain is one of Australia’s most important agricultural exports. Every winter, Western Australia has more land planted for grain crops than any other state. This means there are many jobs in wheat and grains research here in WA. The training and experience you achieve in WA can set you up for a global career.

Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences

Geography: Biomes and Food Security
  • Year 9 - The challenges to food production, including land and water degradation, shortage of fresh water, competing land uses, and climate change, for Australia and other areas of the world (ACHGK063)
  • Year 9 - examining the effects of anticipated future population growth on global food production and security, and its implications for agriculture and agricultural innovation (ACHGK064)
Economics and Business Knowledge
  • Year 9 - Why and how participants in the global economy are dependent on each other (ACHEK039)
Science as a Human Endeavour
  • Year 9 - The values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE228)
  • Year 10 - Advances in science and emerging sciences and technologies can significantly affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities (ACSHE195)


  • Case study on the career of Dan Mullan
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides insights on the agriculture industry, see the Australian Bureau of Statistics article 'Australian farming and farmers'  (Accessed 25 June 2015)
  • DAFWA ‘Careers cards’

Tuning In

Watch this video on Australian agriculture. It emphasises the role of research and innovation in farming. It was published in 2011 by Australia’s Year of the Farmer.

Whole class introduction

Australian farmers are part of a global effort to feed the world. Scientists collaborate with farmers to develop the agriculture industry.

As the National Farmers Federation (NFF) of Australia states:

‘The challenge for our farmers will be meeting the booming world need for food and fibre. This means we need to increase the amount of food and fibre we grow- with less land, less water, less impact on the environment, and with fewer people. This is why Australia spends $1.5 billion a year on agricultural development and why we need to continue to spend more’ (NFF presentation, 2012).

Agriculture offers an international career. Australian agricultural scientists are involved in many global collaborations to look at new and more efficient ways of producing food and fibre.

The vast Australian continent produces more food than our population can eat. Many farmers are focused on exporting their products. It is very important that farmers and agricultural scientists understand the markets available in other countries.

Did you know?

  • 60% of Australian farm produce is exported, helping to feed 40 million people around the world each day (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012).
  • In 2010-11, 14% of the total value of agricultural exports went to China. A further 13% went to Japan and 8% to Indonesia. Australian farmers also exported to countries beyond our immediate region such as those in the Middle East (10% of agricultural exports), the European Union (8%), and the United States (7%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012).

The Ord River expansion project at Kununurra

Lesson Overview

Students will investigate the development of diverse farming systems in the north of Western Australia, with a focus on constructing water, road and community infrastructure and experimenting with different types of agricultural crops. They will look at government policies to enhance food security and develop Australia’s remote and isolated north Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences.

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Year 9 - The human alteration of biomes to produce food, industrial materials and fibres, and the environmental effects of these alterations (ACHGK061)
  • Year 9 - The environmental, economic and technological factors that influence crop yields in Australia and across the world (ACHGK062)
  • Year 9 - The capacity of the world’s environments to sustainably feed the projected future population to achieve food security for Australia and the world (ACHGK064)
  • Year 10 - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ approaches to custodial responsibility and environmental management in different regions of Australia (ACHGK072)

Tuning In

This video gives a 4 minute overview on farming in Australia, its increased productivity, innovation and global outlook. Produced to celebrate the Year of the Farmer in 2012. 'The greatest story never told' (Accessed 27 June 2015).

This government website provides a gateway to learn about the Ord Final Agreement, to expand agriculture and develop land in Kununurra. This agreement is signed by the state of Western Australia and the Aboriginal people of the Ord region: Ord Final Indigenous Land Use Agreement

The document on the ‘Ord Stage Two’ farming development is from the Department of Regional Development, Western Australia. This large-scale project is described using several names, including the Ord-East Kimberley Development Plan, Ord Stage Two and the Ord Irrigation Expansion Project. Please make students aware of the different names. The Ord East Kimberley Development Plan. (Accessed 27 June 2015)

This article is about young farmers who have started a new business growing fruit, vegetables and legumes in Kununurra. Fresh ideas for family business (Accessed 21 August 2015)

Whole class introduction

The Ord region at Kununurra is an example of a northern Australian landscape that has been altered in order to establish an agricultural industry. Kununurra has a tropical climate and bright red soils. Since the opening of an enormous dam, Lake Argyle in 1972, successive governments have invested money in:

  • developing new irrigated farm lands to make use of the water
  • researching different agriculture crops that can survive in a tropical climate
  • building roads and infrastructure so agricultural products can be delivered to Perth and other capital cities
  • providing services to the town of Kununurra so it will become an attractive place for people to relocate to, establish businesses and take up jobs.

Kununurra is now an example of a landscape with ‘patchwork agriculture.’ There are many different types of farms, with products such as melons, cucumber, mangoes, sandalwood, chia, pumpkins and chickpeas.

Throughout the 2000’s, Aboriginal people have been closely involved in the planning of a project to develop a new area of farm land in the Ord region, this is sometimes called ‘Ord Stage Two.’

The Commonwealth and State governments often describe the continued development of Kununurra’s farms and water infrastructure as being important to Australia’s food security.

Kununurra is one of the most remote towns in northern Australia, and is located 3214km from Perth.

Design thinking in agriculture

Lesson Overview

Students will explore the place of design thinking and economics in agriculture through investigation of a successful Western Australian agricultural business and engage in activities that allow them to explore aspects of the design process including economic considerations.

Australian Curriculum: Technologies

Design and Technologies
  • Year 9 and 10 - Apply design thinking, creativity, innovation and enterprise skills to develop, modify and communicate design ideas of increasing sophistication (ACTDEP049)
  • Evaluate design ideas, processes and solutions against comprehensive criteria for success recognising the need for sustainability (ACTDEP051)

Tuning in

Students will read the article 'Let the creative juices flow bro’ by Caitlin Burling, Ripe Magazine, May 2015, vol 9, number 5, page 3. It profiles a pair of young agricultural entrepreneurs who are making cold-pressed juices from WA fruit.

Whole class introduction

Design thinking is a process that businesses use to identify innovations, invent and improve existing products.

Some businesses start with an existing product and use the process to make it more easy to use, stylish or interesting, and this is sometimes called value-adding. Products achieve a higher price if they are different and unique, or value-added.

Did you know that some of the most creative cities in the world have design strategies, including London and Melbourne? These strategies are used to make these cities places where people want to visit, to see new and exciting inventions, fashions and products and to experience new tastes.

Even the food we eat is designed. Agriculture has many careers for people who are creative and interested in design.

Throughout Western Australia there are businesses that promote themselves as destinations where you can try innovative, value-added farm products. Some businesses and communities band together to promote their region as a place to visit where these food experiences can be found.

You may recognise the following locations as places where you have sampled value-added products:

  • Swan Valley
  • Manjimup
  • Margaret River
  • Kununurra
  • Carnarvon

See if you can match these value-added products with a region or town where they are grown in Western Australia. Choose from the list of towns above:

Product Where is it produced in WA?
Black truffle Dukkha  
Choc-coated frozen banana  
Venison chorizo sausage  
Chia with cocnut juice/ ready-made breakfast  








Teacher note: A handout is provided with a map of Western Australian towns.

A piece of my pie – budgeting and profit analysis

Lesson overview

Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences

Economics and Business
Interpretation and Analysis
  • Years 9 and 10 - Analyse data and information in different formats to explain cause and effect relationships, make predictions and illustrate alternative perspectives (ACHES045)
Communication and Reflection
  • Years 9 and 10 - Present reasoned arguments and evidence-based conclusions in a range of appropriate formats using economics and business conventions, language and concepts (ACHES048)
  • Economic reasoning, decision-making and application
  • Years 9 and 10 - Generate a range of viable options in response to an economic or business issue or event, use cost-benefit analysis and appropriate criteria to recommend and justify a course of action and predict the potential consequences of the proposed action (ACHES046)

Students will develop an understanding of profit drivers for farmers. They will discuss how seasonal variability and global markets affect profitability and conduct an analysis on a wheat cropping program.


  • Calculator
  • Access to chart tool (MS Word suggested)

Managing salinity and caring for the landscape

Lesson Overview

Salt affects millions of hectares of farm land in Australia. Students will examine how dryland salinity occurs, the adverse effects that salt has on our environment and agricultural industry and see the benefit of rehabilitation work.

Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences

Geography Biomes and Food Security
  • Year 9 - The challenges to food production, including land and water degradation, shortage of fresh water, competing land uses, and climate change, for Australia and other areas of the world (ACHGK063)
Environmental Change and Management
  • Year 10 - The human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability (ACHGK070)
Biological Sciences
  • Year 9 - Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Year 10 - The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence (ACSSU185)


  • Dutch licorice, with varying levels of saltiness. Salty licorice can be purchased from shops specialising in Dutch foodstuffs. Warning: Salty licorice may be produced in factories that also processes dairy or nuts.
  • Sticky notes
  • Ipad access for research
  • Salinity and Water Quality fact sheet

Tuning In

Ask students to view the photographs on the following DAFWA website: Dryland salinity in Western Australia - An introduction.

Give students four sticky notes. Ask them to view each image and write a word or comment in response to each photo. Discuss.

Whole class introduction

Dryland salinity is one of the important environmental threats facing Western Australia's agricultural land, water resource, biodiversity and infrastructure. Dryland salinity (non-irrigated land) is defined as salinity at or near the soil surface causing a reduction in plant growth, reduced water quality and damage to infrastructure.

Sodium chloride (NaCl) is the most often described salt when discussing dryland salinity in Western Australia.

Australian soils have always contained salt. This salt has been deposited into and on Australian soils by rainfall, windborne sea spray and released by rocks as they weather and break down.

Prior to the introduction of agricultural systems in to Western Australia the parts of the landscape that showed the effects of salinity where mostly limited to low lying areas, seeps (which may not be low lying) lakes and wetlands.

The Australian deep rooted native vegetation efficiently used nearly all the available rainfall.

When Europeans removed the native vegetation and replaced it with shallow rooted annual food crops like wheat far less rainfall was used.

This unused rainfall infiltrated the soil, moving downwards, past the roots of annual plants to join the water stored deep in the ground. Overtime the ground began to fill up with water. Groundwater began appearing near or at the surface of the soil in new locations, this is called groundwater table rise.

The rising groundwater carries in it the salts stored in the soil. When the groundwater nears the surface (less than two metres) capillary action and evaporation of the soil water causes the salt to become concentrated in the topsoil.

Combined salinity and waterlogging in the topsoil is toxic to many plants (George et al. 1997) and salinity is often first noticed when trees begin to sicken or die, native vegetation decreases, plant species tolerant to salt will increase in number. The yields of farm crops and pastures are reduced.

In severe cases, bare patches, known as salt scalds, develop with salt obvious on the surface. Where groundwater seepage is apparent, saline areas are referred to as saline seeps or seepage scalds (DAFWA, 2015).

Ethical and sustainable production of sandalwood

Lesson overview

Students will investigate the global sandalwood industry and learn how demand for ethically and sustainably grown sandalwood has grown in recent times and provided opportunities for Australian producers.

Australian Curriculum: Technology

Design and Technologies
  • Years 9 and 10 - Critically analyse factors, including social, ethical and sustainability considerations, that impact on designed solutions for global preferred futures and the complex design and production processes involved (ACTDEK040)
  • Investigate and make judgments on the ethical and sustainable production and marketing of food and fibre (ACTDEK044)


Tuning In

View ‘From Soil to Oil’ video clip, by Tropical Forestry Services, 2015

Whole class introduction

Many famous perfume houses in Europe, such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Calvin Klein use Indian sandalwood as a base fragrance.[1] In the past decade perfume companies have been looking for more ethical sources of sandalwood that are not taken from wild environments. Plantation-harvested sandalwood can be easily traced back to where it is grown, and does not involve depletion of native sandalwood habitats.

One of the biggest sources of plantation-grown Indian sandalwood in the world is at Kununurra, in the remote north of Western Australia. A Western Australian lawyer and businessman called Frank Wilson has developed the sandalwood plantation. He now travels the world, meeting with perfume and pharmaceutical companies, to promote his Australian-grown ethical Indian sandalwood.


Nikki Poulish