Year 12
Year 12

Agriculture and Horticulture

Australia is reliant on its primary industries. The sustainable management of Australia’s finite land and water resources is vital for the continued production and supply of food and fibre to local, national and global markets. VCE Agricultural and Horticultural Studies provides opportunities for students to experience and understand these primary industries.

VCE Agricultural and Horticultural Studies is designed to develop students’ understanding of the operations and practices involved with sustainable agricultural and horticultural systems within an economic, social and environmental context. This study allows students to develop and apply theoretical knowledge and skills to real world business and practices. An understanding of agribusiness operations involves a broad familiarity with interdisciplinary skills and knowledge of technology, science, economics and business management, marketing, geography and information and communications technology (ICT). Students apply their acquired knowledge and skills to design, develop and manage an agricultural and/or horticultural business as a project within this study.

The study provides a contextual overview of the scientific, management and operational skills and knowledge required to run a small agricultural and/or horticultural business. The study considers current and future practices within the Australian and international agribusiness sector. Students are expected to research change and innovation with regard to agricultural and/or horticultural businesses, responding to a range of drivers and demands.

The broad applied nature of the study of agribusiness operations prepares students to make decisions about career opportunities or further studies in agriculture, horticulture, land management, agricultural business practice and natural resource management. It complements the skills focus of competency-based training available through VET certificates in Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management

Unit 3: Technology, innovation and business practices

In this unit technology refers to the equipment, management techniques and processes that can be used to maintain and/or enhance efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural and horticultural systems in order to achieve socially, economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural and horticultural systems. Students develop an understanding of the range of available equipment and processes that may be used in agricultural and horticultural businesses, including the current commonly used technologies and innovative technologies. They learn how the capabilities of equipment and application of processes assists decision making and management practices in agricultural and horticultural enterprises.

Management of soil/growing media, water, pests and diseases of plants and/or animals and weeds are considered through an integrated management approach. For Outcome 1 a selection is made from the Prescribed List of Pests, Diseases and Weeds, published annually in the VCAA Bulletin VCE, VCAL and VET.

This unit also focuses on a range of technology that is currently used by commercial agricultural and/or horticultural businesses; students review the areas where change and innovation are occurring. Students consider and analyse the likely impacts of new and emerging developments in technology.

Students individually design a small agricultural or horticultural business that involves the management of plants and/or animals. Using a range of production techniques and equipment they commence their business and report on its progress. Students will continue to manage this business in Unit 4.

In undertaking this unit students concentrate on any one or two commercial agricultural and/or horticultural business/es. The business/es selected must allow for the study and achievement of the knowledge and skills required for Outcomes 1 and 2. The business/es selected for study for Outcomes 1 and 2 may be related to the business being planned by the student for Outcome 3 of this unit. The following commercial business areas are suitable for study for Outcomes 1 and 2:

•  Agroforestry

•  Alley farming

•  Alternative agriculture or horticulture systems (e.g. organics, permaculture, biodynamics)

•  Aquaculture

•  Broad acre dry land cropping

•  Broad acre grazing of animals

•  Community supported agriculture or horticulture

•  Conversion from traditional to organic farming

•  Field growing of vegetables, herbs or flowers

•  Fruit or nut production

•  Garden design and construction and/or maintenance

•  Glasshouse production of flowers or vegetables

•  Grape production

•  Intensive animal production

•  Irrigated cropping

•  Milk production

•  Nursery production of ornamental plants

•  Producing crops using hydroponics

•  Production of biofuels

•  Revegetation contracting

•  Seeding/tube stock production

•  Small-scale diverse agriculture or horticulture

•  Urban agriculture or horticulture


Unit 4: Sustainable management

This unit focuses on the management of agricultural and horticultural systems within the context of economic, social and environmental sustainability. The unit takes a holistic ecological approach to issues associated with land, plant and animal management. Students apply the principles and concepts of such an approach across a range of agricultural and horticultural situations.

Students consider the effects of climate change and how business responds to these effects. They develop an understanding of the importance of identification, rectification and prevention of environmental degradation for the sustainability of agribusinesses. Students consider strategies for economic, social and environmentally sustainable resource management within agriculture and horticulture. The scientific approach is used as an aid in monitoring environmental change.
Students continue to operate their small business project commenced in Unit 3 Outcome 3. They monitor and report on the operations of the business, including analysing productivity, profitability and sustainability, and make recommendations for improving business outcomes.


Units 3 and 4

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will supervise the assessment of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4. In the study of VCE Agricultural and Horticultural Studies students’ level of achievement will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and an end-of-year examination.

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Agricultural and Horticultural Studies are as follows:

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework: 33 per cent
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework: 33 per cent
  • End-of-year examination: 34 per cent.