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Study Agricultural Innovation at Otago

Sustainable strategies to feed an increasing global population.

Food production has increased by more than 300% since the advent of the Green Revolution in the 1940s. Nature has productive limits, so it has been necessary to develop alternative but complementary strategies to feed the world’s increasing population. The innovative technologies that produce alternative foods require natural resources that are renewable and sustainable.

The Agricultural Innovation programme is designed to develop future leaders in agriculture. The focus is on science and technology, but you will also gain an understanding and appreciation for agriculture in broader contexts including economic, social, cultural, and environmental aspects.

Government projections are that there will be 50,000 additional skilled jobs generated within the agricultural sector by 2050. Agricultural Innovation has been developed to produce graduates with specialist but diverse skills for a career in agriculture or the rural sector.

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Why study Agricultural Innovation?

Agricultural Innovation focuses on the major issues in agriculture that impact food production, security, safety and quality. The programme explores the innovative changes in agriculture required to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events, greenhouse gas emissions, and degradation of soil and water quality.

Teaching focuses on the agricultural and industrial processes that drive food production systems necessary to guarantee food security in a world with ever-increasing demands for food.

You will learn how innovation is used to advance economic, societal, and ethical goals, such as increasing the monetary and nutritional value of food while reducing the negative environmental impacts.

Māori perspectives relating to agriculture and the importance of Māori throughout the primary sector will be woven into the fabric of the course, providing students with an ethical framework and guidelines for engagement.

Career opportunities

After graduating with a BSc majoring in Agricultural Innovation, you will have the expertise to enable employment in the agricultural and food sector.

You'll have the opportunity to work in many sectors of our economy:

  • Biosecurity
  • Central government
  • Environment protection agencies / ERMA
  • Farming or horticulture
  • Food manufacturing
  • Food assurance programmes (AgriQuality)
  • Organic nutrient and fertiliser companies
  • Regulatory agencies (regional government)
  • Research and development within scientific or corporate entities
  • Rural financial service agencies / banking / insurance / accountancy
  • Synthetic food production

Agricultural Innovation at Otago

What will I learn?

The major and minor in Agricultural Innovation are designed to capitalise on the extensive academic and research expertise in agriculture, food and the environment at the University of Otago. The teaching programme is primarily science-focused but also incorporates social, environmental, and economic aspects of agriculture, including traditional and contemporary Māori agriculture and mātauranga Māori.

It provides a coherent and thorough introduction to Agricultural Innovation that accentuates multidisciplinary problem-solving, critical thinking, independence, self-directed learning, and communication skills.

Increased breadth is developed through optional papers, from multiple specialities, linked to study of the natural world, human world, and technical world.

How will I study?

There are a wide variety of delivery methods, including lectures, tutorials, computer and scientific laboratory work, directed readings, and field work.

Each year, you will visit a farm that is an exemplar of all that is best in agricultural production of sustainable, healthy food.

Background required

Entry into the Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Agricultural Innovation is open to anyone with University Entrance.

During the first year at university you will be required to take 100-level papers in Agricultural Innovation, Biology, and Chemistry. Taking Year 13 NCEA papers in Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Agribusiness, Biology, and Chemistry will be helpful.

While Agribusiness is only available at a small number of secondary schools, it is anticipated it will be available in the majority of schools in the immediate future.

During your first year at university, it is important to consider registering for other papers that are required to obtain a second major or minor in:

  • Biological, environmental, physical, or social sciences
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Marketing


Agricultural Innovation as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


AGRI 101 Agricultural Innovation



AGRI 221 New Zealand Agricultural Systems

One of natural world, human world, and technical world papers BIOC 221, BTNY 201, CHEM 206, ECOL 211, ENVI 211, FOSC 202, GENE 221, GENE 222, GENE 223, GEOG 216, GEOG 282, GEOG 283, GEOG 284, GEOG 285, GEOG 286, GEOG 287, GEOG 288, GEOG 289, GEOG 290, GEOG 298, GEOG 299, MART 211, MATS 204, MICR 221, MICR 222, STAT 210, SURV 206, SURV 220




One of:

  • AGRI 321 Agricultural Production and Food Security
  • AGRI 322 Innovation and Healthy Soils
  • AGRI 323 Agricultural Genetics and Breeding

One of AGRI 321, AGRI 322, AGRI 323 or natural world, human world, and technical world papers BIOC 352, BTNY 301, BTNY 302, BTNY 303, CHEM 306, ENVI 311, ENVI 312, FOSC 301, FOSC 308, GENE 312, GENE 314, GENE 315, GEOG 388, GEOG 389, GEOG 390, GEOG 392, GEOG 393, GEOG 394, GEOG 395, GEOG 397, GEOG 398, GEOG 399, MART 306, MICR 331, MICR 332, MICR 335, MICR 336, PLBI 301, PLBI 302, SOCI 319, STAT 310, SURV 306, SURV 309

Note: Students should check the prerequisites for their selected 300-level papers when choosing their 200-level options.



Total 90

AGRI papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
AGRI101 2024 Agricultural Innovation 18 Semester 2
AGRI221 2024 New Zealand Agricultural Systems 18 Semester 2
AGRI321 2024 Agriculture Production and Food Security 18 Semester 1
AGRI322 2024 Innovation and Healthy Soils 18 Semester 2
AGRI323 2024 Agricultural Genetics and Breeding 18 Semester 2

More information

Contact us

Professor Craig Bunt
Tel +64 3 479 8365

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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