by Rory McShane
The 2019 Agricultural Science exam was interesting with less of a focus on a broad range of topics and more of an in-depth focus of a few. There were no questions on the pig which at the least has been examined in question 1 and 9 of recent years. There was a dairy vacuum this year, unlike previous papers which always addressed the livestock chapter. There was very little on sheep and one full question on Beef which was Q3 option 1. With the exception of some terms/definitions not covered in any ag. science textbook the paper was very achievable and offered plenty of opportunity for weaker and stronger students to achieve a deserving grade. Last year’s beast from the east (Q9) and summer drought (Q2) both appeared in the paper. The experiments offered plenty of choice, however soil flocculation and test for minerals both came up between Q1 and Q2. Q3 option 2 focused on plant physiology, silage, and microbiology. The latter’s question was worded awkwardly I found. Q5 focused on crops, namely potatoes, catch crops, and the use of round up which is getting plenty of media coverage lately in the US. However a few students did find in difficult. Q6 should be a student favourite with a lot to offer, it was interesting to see FYM and Slurry come up for a second year in a row. Q7 followed the usual format, with some students finding the wording again in part (a) a little tricky. I was impressed with the applied scenario in part (c) which should find higher level students doing very well. Q8 asked for the liverfluke lifecycle which was another student favourite, and it had enough choice in the remaining parts to hopefully yield high marks for most students. Q9 was a delight with loads to offer and nothing fanciful about the wording of the questions. Overall it was a very good paper, and most students should be happy with it.