Many people have a particular idea of what it means to be a farmer. They imagine scenic days trudging around fields, driving tractors, herding cows, and generally leading an idyllic countryside lifestyle. Certainly, some of this is the case – however, farming has modernised like every other sector. Now, farms are complex businesses that require diverse teams of professionals. The days of the farmer and his wife are long gone, and today, agricultural jobs require a specialist blend of practical skills and business acumen. This is best embodied by the farm manager, who oversees the farm's operations. In this article, we describe the farm manager role so you can see if you've got the skills to take on this complex role.
What is a farm manager and what do they do?
The farm manager is one of the most senior roles in agriculture. They are responsible for the daily operations and general upkeep of the farm, including supervising the care of crops and/or livestock and making decisions based on the climate. Depending on the type of farm, specific responsibilities can include the following:
On a farm whose principal yield is crops, the farm manager will be responsible for tilling, planting, spraying, cultivating and harvesting. After the harvest, the farm manager will also be responsible for the storage and packaging of the produce.
Horticulture farms encompass everything from ornamental plants and flowers to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Usually, the farm manager's responsibilities will be similar to those of an agronomic farm. However, horticulture jobs differ from agronomy jobs in that generally, agronomic farms will produce crops for animal and human consumption, generally going through various different processes before they're eaten. For instance, corn will be processed several times before it becomes cow feed or corn syrup. However, horticultural farms will generate produce directly for human consumption.
Livestock farms raise domesticated animals for consumption. Common varieties include cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs. The farm manager is responsible for the animals' general care, including food and water. The farm manager is also in charge of making sure the animals are healthy and controlling disease, and therefore, they have to maintain the farm buildings and fields as well as overseeing breeding.
Aquaculture farmers raise fish, crustaceans, or molluscs. Similarly, to livestock jobs, they are responsible for their feeding, care and well-being, ensuring that these aquatic animals are fit for consumption.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of the farm manager will also depend on the nature of the farm. For instance, the role of a farm manager on an intensive or factory farm will differ a lot from those of an organic farm manager. Whereas a factory farm manager may have to monitor the administration of medication or chemicals, an organic farmer will have to manage crop rotation or biological pest control.
However, as implied by the job title, the farm manager plays an important role in the overall management of the farm. Therefore, they have to have a complete overview of the farm's finances, including bookkeeping and, in some cases, write grant applications. Regardless of the type of farm, they will need to have the marketing acumen to sell the produce a food distributor. As such, a good farm manager does not only have practical farming knowledge but also marketing and business skills. Subsequently, good numerical, IT and database skills are essential, as technology is integral to tracking farm production and finances.
Farm manager profile
Due to the complexity of the role, an agricultural head-hunter looks for very specific qualities in a farm manager. The farm manager needs to be enterprising and driven, so they need to be ambitious, adventurous and optimistic. They'll also be responsible for managing a team, so it's essential that they have excellent interpersonal and motivational skills. From here, they have to be pragmatic and resourceful, ensuring that they can tackle any challenge the industry (or indeed the weather!) throws at them. Furthermore, particularly on large farms, the farm manager will be responsible for presenting to stakeholders. Therefore, they need to be confident public speakers, adept problem solvers and have the ability to put together compelling arguments.
However, the work of a farm manager can be demanding. The hours are long, the weather can be inhospitable, and unsurprisingly, crops and animals don't take the weekend off. Therefore, they need to be incredibly resilient and passionate with the willingness to from dawn till dusk. While working on a farm can be tiring and unpredictable, there's no doubt that it's incredibly rewarding work with a great lifestyle. With so much time to spend outdoors in the heart of nature, many farm managers’ report excellent job satisfaction.
Qualifications and salary prospects
A farm manager is one of the most in-demand agricultural jobs. An experienced farm manager can command as much as £70,000 per year or from £23,000 for someone who's starting from the bottom. Often, the salary and associated responsibilities will depend on the size and scope of the farm. Furthermore, qualifications will also affect starting salaries. As the farm manager is a complex role, generally, the candidate will be educated to degree level. Degree qualifications include:
- Farm business management
- Agricultural engineering
- Crop management
- Land management
Furthermore, it's not unheard of for farm managers to be educated to MSc or PhD level, particularly on large farms with sensitive or high-volume production. It's also likely that candidates will be expected to demonstrate their numerical and administrative skills and hold a full clean driving license, with a knowledge of handling agricultural machinery.
Have you got what it takes to be a farm manager?
Farm managers are some of the most sought after personnel by agricultural head-hunters. These individuals will combine a unique blend of practical knowledge and enterprising business acumen to ensure the complex task of running a farm is done properly. Not only are they responsible for caring for the farm's produce – whether it be livestock or crops – they also need to ensure the farm's business and marketing operations are effective. It takes a particular type of personality to be a farm manager – and if you've got what it takes, a look at some agricultural job vacancies could be a path to a challenging and rewarding new career path.
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk
Alternatively, if you are a client looking to expand your team, whilst using a professional recruitment / headhunting solution, then please call us today on 01905 345155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk