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Rural Jobs: Farm Manager Role In Detail

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Rural Jobs: Farm Manager Role In Detail

Working on the land can be a rewarding career which gives a good deal of job satisfaction and the benefits of a country lifestyle. If you're weighing up options for your future, or already work in farming and want to progress your career, then you might want to consider the role of agricultural manager, or farm manager. Agricultural managers are employed in a variety of areas, including farm estates, greenhouses, nurseries, government-owned land and other agricultural production sites. Some agricultural manager roles may be on a self-employed basis, while other roles on large industrial farms or horticultural enterprises will entail leading and managing a team of staff. Although there are no formal educational requirements for agricultural managers, it's very often the case that a relevant undergraduate degree or extensive expertise and experience will be required by job candidates.

The role of agricultural manager is important because the manager has responsibility for ensuring the production of crops, produce and livestock are maintained at peak levels and harvesting takes place in a timely fashion. Ultimately, the profitability of any of the above countryside enterprises will depend upon the good judgement and strategic operational skills of the agricultural manager. Of course, anybody considering this type of job role must be comfortable with the idea of spending a good deal of work time outdoors, so it's not going to be the right job for everyone.

When it comes to farms and country estates, you'll find that most of them will be specialists in one or two areas, like dairy cattle or crop production. In this respect, it may be important to make frequent career changes as you work up the ladder in agricultural management, so that you gain a wide range of different experiences, this will make you a far more valuable candidate for any farm manager role. This can also be said for anybody who is already working in agriculture and wants to progress into farm management.

The role of the agricultural farm manager

The agricultural manager or farm manager will be responsible for daily planning, coordination and organisation, as well as supervision and administration of all activities on farms, nurseries, horticultural centres and other associated enterprises. Depending on the size of the business, agricultural managers may also be expected to participate in a range of planting and harvesting jobs.

Some typical responsibilities of the role include:

  • making decisions and formulating policies

  • forward planning

  • keeping on top of all projects to make sure work progresses in a satisfactory manner

  • keeping accurate financial records and budgeting

  • keep track of all key performance indicators (KPIs) and initiatives for productivity enhancements

  • developing a robust supplier network to maintain diversity

  • managing and coordinating all the phases of agricultural production from planting to harvesting

  • ensuring compliance with all health and safety requirements and government regulations

  • organising the sale and purchase of livestock, crops and plants, equipment for the enterprise and supplies

  • keeping up to speed with all administrative records

  • recruiting, training and managing labourers and workers

  • staying up to date with information on pests and diseases

  • keeping the business in profit and meeting financial targets

  • organise all maintenance and repairs for the property and equipment/machinery

  • marketing/advertising the business' products and any sub contract work

  • becoming a subject matter expert on the UK agricultural industry

  • overall responsibility for managing associated businesses, such as the farm shop, equestrian facility, etc

There will be seasonal variation in workload, and some unsocial hours may be essential during the busiest periods, such as harvesting or lambing, with managers expected to handle any emergency situations that arise.

Some typical employers of agricultural farm managers include:

- larger farm estates and some smaller farms
- garden centres and horticultural businesses
- research institutes
- farm management consultants
- agricultural colleges
- food production or manufacturing industries
- DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Agricultural vacancies are generally advertised by specialist recruitment agencies and may also be in publications such as Farmers' Guardian, Farmers' Weekly and The Scottish Farmer.

Ideal qualifications for agricultural manager roles

There are no standard qualification requirements for agricultural manager roles, but many managers will have a foundation degree or HND at the very least. Qualifications in agriculture, horticulture, animal or land-related subjects would all be considered suitable for this type of role. The entry requirements for these courses can start from 48 UCAS points upwards with GCSEs in English, maths and science being typically required. However, a good deal of these courses will accept practical experience in lieu of academic qualifications.

School leavers could start off a career as an agricultural manager if they are accepted for an apprenticeship role in a position that's supervised by Lantra ( Entry qualifications for agricultural manager apprenticeships do vary, but are available for students that have completed GCSEs and for students that have just completed A-levels.

It has to be reiterated, however, that employers place far more value upon experience than academic qualifications, so it makes sense to have rounded expertise in a range of different agricultural roles.

Skills required by agricultural farm managers include:

- initiative, a proactive approach and flexibility
- good communications skills
- leadership, motivational qualities and team working abilities
- financial, forecasting and budgeting ability
- analytical skills and a good knowledge of IT
- commercial awareness and business management skills
- research skills sufficient to find and develop new markets for the business
- marketing and sales skills

Agricultural farm managers also need an ability to apply the technical requirements of environmental and legislative fundamentals into the practical environment.

Salary expectations

Typically you could expect to earn between £20,000 and £22,000 annually in your early years as an agricultural farm manager. Experienced managers earn between £23,000 and £35,000 and managers with vast experience can earn over £50,000. An added advantage of working as an agricultural manager is that you could be provided with rent-free accommodation and a vehicle.

Agricultural Recruitment Specialists ( are the market leading recruitment agency for jobs within the rural environment. If you're looking for agricultural farm manager roles or have a vacancy to post for an agricultural manager then get in touch with us, we'll be happy to help.