A lack of qualified staff is behind a scholarship scheme run by the Manawatu-Rangitikei Regional Council.
The scholarships are linked to a sustainable land use programme, which aims to help farmers in hill country catchments to take erosion-prone land out of production, and then protect it with trees.
The scholarship is in its third year. It offers financial assistance to five introductory-level and two advanced-level students from Massey University.
This year the council received 10 applications for the scholarships.
Region land manager Grant Cooper says the council specifically wants to employ graduates who have some farm management background so they can relate to farmers.
However, he acknowledges it's too early to tell whether the scholarship programme has encouraged more students to take up soil science and farm management courses.