New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Farming Systems) (Level 3) and New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Operational Skills (Infrastructure) (Level 3)


Central Otago

One year full-time; part-time not available

On campus with practical workplace experiences on a high country station in Central Otago 

February and July
Until start date
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Central Otago
    15 February 2021
    28 June 2021 - 16 July 2021
    5 April 2021 - 16 April 2021
    27 September 2021 - 8 October 2021

Do you want to gain work-ready farming skills?

Farming careers are fun and rewarding and there is strong demand nationally for passionate people who want to work with livestock in the farming industry. This Central Otago-based qualification is the only farming training programme in New Zealand with a high country flavour.

With an emphasis on the ‘hands on’ approach to learning, this outdoors-based programme will prepare you for a career in agriculture. Covering a wide range of skills, you also have the added benefit of on-farm practical assessments, as well as work placements on local high country stations.

Graduates will be able to be employed in pastoral farming/rural-based workplaces under limited supervision. 

Successful graduates of this programme will gain the New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Farming Systems) (Level 3) AND the New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Operational Skills (Level 3) (Infrastructure).

Entry requirements
  • There are no academic entry criteria for this programme.  
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

Selection criteria

1. You will need to have a full drivers licence.

2. You will need to provide a letter of application. Your letter of application should comprise no more than 500 words and should explain: 

  • why you have chosen to apply for this programme 
  • your expectations of the programme
  • your career goals in the field of agriculture
  • the steps you have already taken to progress your career goals. 

Alternatively, you can provide a 5-minute video of yourself covering the same points. 

3. Please supply supporting references and details of any farming experience with your application.

If the numbers of applicants who meet the selection criteria exceed the available places, a waitlist will be used to ensure preference is given to applicants in order of application. 

You will study

There are nine courses in this programme and you need to complete them all to successfully achieve the qualification. 

Health and Safety in Agriculture
(Level 3, 15 credits) 

Gain knowledge of Health and Safety procedures to minimise injury and risk to yourself and others, livestock and equipment. 

Indicative content 

  • Responsibilities according to H&S at Work Act 2015
  • Role/function of ACC
  • Concepts of WorkSafe in farm environment
  • Health & Safety terms
  • Complete a Hazard register
  • Identify and manage risk – farm tasks/livestock/farm equipment
  • Identify correct PPE
  • Effects of Hydration/Nutrition/sleep
  • Effective hygiene in workplace

Animal Handling - Sheep 
(Level 3, 15 credits) 

Learn how to move and handle sheep in a way that minimises stress to animals, yourself and facilities. 

Indicative content 

  • Animal behaviour in relation to welfare
  • Animal handling tasks in stockyards
  • Round-up and shift sheep from one paddock to another
  • Round-up sheep, bring to sheep yards and move sheep through sheep yards
  • Draft sheep into lines
  • Weigh and record lambs
  • Dag and crutch sheep
  • Assist with tailing/docking of lambs
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps

Animal Health 
(Level 3, 15 credits) 

Discover how to identify and assist with the health needs of livestock. 

Indicative content

  • Assist with marking calves
  • Animal Health needs and animal treatment – sheep and cattle
  • Body condition score cattle and sheep
  • Administer animal health to sheep and cattle – drench/vaccine
  • Identify livestock under stress
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps

Pastures and Soils 
(Level 3, 10 credits)

Learn how to identify pastures and explain methods and practices for pasture management. 

Indicative content 

  • Identify soil make-up, explain soil health and the impact of fertilisers
  • Use technologies to measure pasture growth and pasture allocation
  • Identify pasture species
  • Pasture renewal methods and management
  • Surplus feed storage and feeding out
  • Create a basic feed budget
  • Measure pastures
  • Take a soil sample and map a soil profile
  • Soil types and soil health 
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps 
  • Use technology to map areas

Vehicles and Machinery in Agriculture 
(Level 3, 20 credits)

Gain the skills to be able to carry out the safe operation of vehicles and machinery in a rural workplace. 

Indicative content 

  • Laws & regulations for tractors & LUV’s
  • Prestart/maintenance checks tractor & LUV
  • Safe operation of LUV, quad bike and tractors 
  • Safe operation of LUV - flat/hilly/towing/with a load
  • Impact of tractors on land/near waterways
  • Operation of front-end loader
  • Attach/detach implements
  • Hazard register for vehicles and machinery
  • Safe operation of a chainsaw and use of PPE for a chainsaw
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps

Animal Handling - Cattle 
(Level 3, 15 credits)

Learn how to move and handle cattle in a way that minimises stress to animals, yourself and facilities. 

Indicative content 

  • Animal behaviour in relation to welfare
  • Animal handling tasks in stockyards
  • Round-up and shift cattle from one paddock to another
  • Round-up cattle, bring to cattle yards and move through to cattle yards
  • Assist with the drafting of cattle into lines
  • Weigh and record calves
  • Assist with marking calves
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps 

Farm Infrastructure 
(Level 3, 15 credits)

Discover how to carry out maintenance tasks on farm infrastructure. 

Indicative content 

  • Identify components used in both permanent farm fences and electric fence systems
  • Explain and construct permanent farm fencing using appropriate methods and materials
  • Explain the workings of electric fence systems for farming including energizers and earthing systems
  • Install and manage temporary electric fences for strip grazing
  • Locate and fix faults in an electric farm fence
  • Maintain permanent and temporary electric fences for livestock retainment and other farm management purposes
  • Explain the water needs of livestock
  • Components needed to create a scheme for the supply of water to livestock
  • Connect water pipes with appropriate joiners and to water troughs
  • Locate and correct faults in a livestock water scheme
  • Legislation/regulations/standards for use of agrichemicals – Growsafe certificate
  • Apply agrichemicals
  • Range of wire knots used for permanent fencing
  • End strainer assemblies for permanent fencing
  • Install end assembly
  • Replace intermediate post
  • Strain permanent wires

Sustainable Practice in Agriculture 
(Level 3, 10 credits)

Explain sustainable farm practices and the impact weather has on farming operations and the environment. 

Indicative content 

  • Water quality
  • Land use
  • Explain legislation and regulations that relate to water quality and land use in the farming environment
  • Weather and climate in relation to farm practices and the environment
  • Identify and explain sustainable farming practices
  • Environmental impact of farm practices near waterways
  • Monitoring programmes and practices for the reduction of impact caused by farming practices
  • Electronic farm recording programmes & Apps
  • Use technology to map areas

Food and Fibre Production
(Level 3, 5 credits)

Understand and be able to explain farm food and fibre production processes. 

Indicative content 

  • Breed selection
  • Assist with preparing sheep for shearing
  • Fine wool production in NZ
  • Woolshed preparation
  • Management of sheep/wool/woolshed during shearing and post shearing
  • Preparation of wool clip for sale
  • Meat production beef and lamb
  • Grading system and quality standards
Work experience

In Term Four, those who are ready are able to participate in a farm-based, work placement experience to apply their skills in a real-world environment. This also provides an opportunity for gaining valuable contacts in the farming industry. To be eligible for work experience, you must be competent in core areas such as health and safety and basic stock handling. You must have also demonstrated a passionate attitude towards working in the agriculture industry.

Further study options 

After successful completion of this programme, you can continue studying farming at Level 4 or diploma-level whilst working on the job.

Additional costs

You will be expected to bring outdoor clothing suitable for a high country environment. Please ask us if you would like a list of required clothing. Email 

Paying for your study


The Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) is currently running but will end in December 2022. That means only your 2022 study will be covered. You may be able to get some financial help for your remaining study through the Fees Free scheme if you’re eligible (see info below).

Whilst this programme is free for you to study during 2022, the TTAF fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any additional costs or living costs. You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink (which is only available for domestic learners).      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website

Fees Free

The Government is also running a funding scheme called Fees Free for domestic learners. This scheme normally pays for your first year of study if you’ve never been enrolled in tertiary study over 60 credits at Level 3 or higher in New Zealand. They have confirmed that TTAF does not impact on a learner’s entitlement to also access the Fees Free scheme. 

So, you’ll be covered by TTAF for your 2022 study and, if you would have originally been eligible for Fees Free, you’ll be able to access that to cover some of your remaining study. 

You can check your Fees Free eligibility here > 

Fees Free only covers your tuition fees. You would still need to pay for things like accommodation, living costs and placement transport costs.  

Again, you can pay for these costs by yourself if possible or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink (only available for domestic learners). 

If you have any questions about student loans and allowances, please email our Studylink Advisor: 

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