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The 4 essential key skills for a successful career in agriculture

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A career in agriculture can be broken down into numerous different job types, as there are so many elements to the agricultural industry. This means that the core aspects of agricultural jobs can range from technology-based, through to management, and into manual labour.

While every branch of the agricultural industry will have specific key skills that are necessary to get ahead, as with most industries there is a core foundation that you'll need if you're going to progress up the career ladder. Here are four just such essential skills if you're planning a career in agriculture.

1. Versatility

This is a foundational key skill and especially useful for you to develop whichever aspect of agricultural work you intend to follow. There's an extensive amount of learning required for a lot of agricultural jobs, however, the theory you learn in the perfect conditions of the classroom or lecture hall are almost never going to be what you encounter when you actually get out into the world and begin to put those theories into practice. You need to be able to think on your feet, analyse a situation, and interpret what you have learned so it can best be applied to the situation that you're facing.

The business of agriculture too is always shifting. Whether it's changing demands from consumers, constantly changing legislation, or the unpredictable nature of the weather, you're going to have to be able to think on your feet and adapt to new situations easily. The agricultural industry is not a static one, which means whichever part of it you work in the only thing you can guarantee is that no two work days will be the same. If you're going to have a successful agricultural career this sort of environment ideally needs to be more than something you can just tolerate, it needs to be something you positively thrive in.

2. Communication

This is another cornerstone key skill which is essential in most fields of work, but particularly agriculture. The agriculture industry is essentially like a chain, with each individual aspect from the growth of the raw materials through to the purchase by customers being a link in that chain. Every step of the process from growth to final consumption is inherently interlinked and if there are failures in communication in just one stage of the process it can have serious consequences for the rest of the chain. This is why effective communication is such a vital part of a successful agricultural career.

You're going to need to be able to liaise with a variety of people. Whether it's farmers, management, vets, logistics companies, equipment suppliers, clients, and maybe even customers, you will need to be able to show a professional face. Developing relationships is a key aspect of any business growth, so this means you will need to not only speak clearly and effectively but you will also need to listen and understand the feedback you're getting from those you interact with. This also applies to the art of negotiation and conflict resolution, so it becomes easy to see why communication skills are so necessary.

3. Organisation

The interdependent nature of the different parts of the agricultural industry from supplier to wholesaler and on to consumer means that time management and organisational skills are exceptionally valuable. This can be applied in many different ways, from reliably harvesting crops at the correct time, to feeding livestock, to making sure that produce is ready for collection in a timely manner. A farm can be such a complex environment and will generally be focused on more than one type of produce, so it's important to avoid becoming overwhelmed when it's necessary to manage a variety of different types of crops and livestock.

Farming is so seasonal, making it important to understand in advance when the seasons are going to change so you can prepare to make the most of the seeding, planting, or harvesting time that's available. If you're a farmer for example and you're consistently late in providing the yield from your dairy cows to your clients, they're going to find another more reliable supplier and you'll lose valuable income. There are also so many regulations dictating proper farming methods, that it's important to be organised enough to ensure the farm you're working on is compliant with the appropriate legislation.

4. Technology Literate

Farming is one of many industries where technology's advancement is playing a larger and larger role with each passing year. Every stage of the process from the preparation of the ground in order to receive the crop throughout to the final packaging and delivery to consumers is becoming more and more reliant on technology to ensure the process runs smoothly. This means if you're going to have a place in the developing agricultural industry that you're going to need to be able to relatively quickly understand how to properly use new technology as it becomes available.

When done right, technology means the whole process becomes easier. Complex processes such as pesticide spraying, harvesting, stock management and inventory, and logistics are all growing more reliant on technology. If however, the user is unfamiliar with what they're doing, it can cause serious problems that will ripple throughout the rest of the supply chain. You don't have to be clambering on to the latest bits of technology the minute they hit the market, but it's a very real probability that the technology you use in the course of your day to day job will develop and update over time. You need to be able to take this in stride.

It's just the start!

The agricultural industry can be a demanding but highly rewarding one, and there are many more specific skills you will require depending on where you would like to specialise. These 4 key skills, however, will give you the bedrock to get ahead in any part of agriculture.

If you'd like to learn more about job opportunities within this sector then please visit: and contact our experienced and helpful team today!