Agricultural manager: job description

Agricultural managers – also known as farm managers – are responsible for making sure that work happens on farm estates.

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Most farms specialise in one or two areas such as crop production or dairy cattle, so it may be necessary to change jobs regularly to gain a range of experience.

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

Agricultural managers or farm managers are responsible for the daily planning, organisation, supervision and administration of activities on farm estates. Typical responsibilities include:

  • forward planning
  • making policy decisions
  • budgeting and maintaining accurate financial records
  • organising sales and purchases of livestock, farm equipment, crops and agricultural products
  • handling paperwork and keeping administrative records
  • recruiting, training/instructing and supervising farm workers
  • making sure that work progresses satisfactorily
  • ensuring compliance with government regulations and health and safety standards
  • keeping an up-to-date knowledge of pests and diseases
  • ensuring that the farm is profitable and meets projected financial targets
  • organising maintenance/repair of farm property, equipment and machinery
  • advertising and marketing farm products or the work of the farmer.

Variations in workloads relate to seasonal demands – some unsociable hours may be necessary during busy periods (eg during harvesting or lambing) and managers will be expected to deal with emergencies.

Over time, many farm managers specialise in a type of farming.

Typical employers of agricultural managers

  • Large farm estates and smaller farms
  • Research institutes
  • Agricultural colleges
  • Farm management consultancy firms
  • Food production/manufacturing companies
  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Vacancies are typically advertised by specialist recruitment agencies, in local/national newspapers and trade publications (online and in print) including Farmers Guardian and The Scottish Farmer .

Qualifications and training required

There are no qualifications required as standard for agricultural management roles, but many managers have at least a foundation degree/HND in an agricultural, horticultural, land or animal-related subject. Entry requirements for these courses vary but can start from 48 UCAS points upwards; GCSEs/standards (or equivalent) in English, maths and science are typically needed. However, many courses accept practical experience instead of academic qualifications.

It is also possible for school leavers to start an agricultural management career by undertaking an apprenticeship in agricultural management or similar, supervised by Lantra (a body promoting land-based and environmental training courses and qualifications). Again, entry requirements vary, but there are apprenticeships for both those finishing their GCSEs/standards or A levels/highers (or equivalent).

Please note that employers traditionally value experience more than academic qualifications.

Key skills for agricultural managers

  • Initiative
  • Flexibility
  • Good communication
  • Analytical skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • IT skills
  • The ability to apply technical knowledge of the environment and legislation/public policy matters in a practical environment
  • Marketing and sales skills
  • Teamwork and leadership

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