Agricultural consultant: job description

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:37

Agricultural consultants provide technical and financial advice to farming, environmental and public sector staff.

produce representing job of an agricultural consultant

What does an agricultural consultant do? Typical salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Agricultural consultants provide advice on using and managing agricultural land. Their aim is to help farmers, landowners and others with an interest in agriculture ensure that land-based businesses are commercially viable.

They also provide advice to conservation organisations and public sector bodies.

Typical duties include:

  • visiting farms to gather information and data about clients’ businesses
  • analysing data
  • carrying out research
  • creating financial models
  • developing business plans for clients based on data, your observations and clients’ aims for their businesses
  • advising on grants available and other financial matters such as diversification or new business ventures
  • running field trials to test new business ideas
  • advising on compliance with current legislation (for example, environmental law) and good practice
  • making recommendations on new systems and processes to increase efficiency
  • writing technical and financial reports
  • developing and maintaining a set of client contacts
  • attending agricultural shows and similar events
  • maintaining awareness of developments in your area of specialisation, as well as the wider agricultural sector.

Typically, agricultural consultants specialise either in business or technical expertise. Business specialists advise on financial issues and business strategy, while technical specialists consider how to make the most effective use of the land. Technical specialists often focus on a particular area, such as environmental issues or soil efficiency.

A large proportion of the work is home- or office-based, although some consultants may also spend time in a laboratory. Visits to farms may require a substantial amount of car travel, although the distance and the need for overnight stays will depend on your clients. Some long and unsocial hours may be necessary during busy periods.

Graduate salaries for agricultural consultants

Salaries for graduate agricultural consultants tend to start at around £23,000 according to job comparison site Glassdoor. Once you’ve built experience – for example, by building knowledge of specific sectors – your salary will rise.

Typical employers of agricultural consultants

  • Specialist farm management consultancies.
  • Property firms
  • Large-scale food producers.

Some property firms offer graduate schemes focusing on agricultural consultancy; they’re likely to advertise these roles in the spring each year. Roles in specialist consultancies are likely to be advertised on an ad hoc basis.

Jobs are advertised via careers services and university departments. They’re also advertised by the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants (BIAC) and by specialist recruitment agencies.

Jobs may not be widely advertised so speculative applications are advisable. Make use of any contacts within the industry – for example, via your university – and use the directories available on the BIAC and the Association of Independent Crop Consultants’ websites to explore wider options.

Qualifications and training required

You’re likely to need a degree in soil/earth sciences, agriculture, horticulture, crop/plant science or animal science for entry into this profession. If you’ve studied any business modules or got business experience, highlight this in your application.

Prior experience of the agricultural industry is essential.

Key skills for agricultural consultants

Employers will be looking for:

  • initiative
  • good written and oral communication skills
  • the ability to explain business concepts and terminology to non-experts
  • sales and persuasion skills, along with the ability to maintain relationships
  • analytical skills
  • commercial awareness
  • proficiency in IT
  • problem-solving skills
  • negotiation skills.

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