There’s strong demand for agronomists to guide farmers on their crop management decisions. But what does the job involve?
Name Rob Daniel
Job title Agronomist
Sum up your job
I advise farmers on crop management, all the way through from pre-planting to harvest. I work closely with them to help maximise their return from their arable enterprise.
See also: Read more information about careers in agriculture and farming and find a job in agriculture
Learn and work
Apprenticeships are a way to get hands-on experience of a job, a structured training programme and earn money while you do it.
Apprentices normally work on farm for four days a week and then go to their local college for formal training one day a week.
More than 36,000 applications for farming-related apprenticeships – in agriculture, horticulture and animal care – were made in the sector in 2013-14. This figure represents a ninefold increase since 2010.
They are open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 24 and, depending on your existing qualifications, you can enter at one of three levels: intermediate (Level 2), advanced (Level 3) and higher (Level 4).
The weekly wage for a 16-20 year old on an agricultural apprenticeship is about £145, rising to about £200 an 18-20 year old.
What does this involve day-to-day?
The role is very season-dependent. During spring and autumn we do a lot of field walking; assessing crops through their vital growth stages and recommending necessary inputs from fertiliser to sprays. Through winter we concentrate on nutrient management, nitrate vulnerable zone records, planning for spring work and attend training sessions to learn about product updates and legislation changes.
What do you enjoy most?
Being outside on sunny spring mornings, rather than been stuck in an office. I also enjoy taking control of my own workload on a day-to-day basis and appreciating the outcome of the season’s work during a successful harvest. Coming from a farming family, I find that talking farming from dawn till dusk isn’t bad either.
What’s the downside?
Working late on spring evenings while your girlfriend is nagging to go out for tea. Getting caught out in a storm when you are a mile or two away from the car; sometimes the weather is against us.
What percentage of your job is office-based?
In the winter it is a 50-50 spilt between the office and the field. During spring and autumn you spend 80% of your time outside and see very little of the office during the day.
What skills and qualifications are essential to do the job?
Strong communication skills are essential. You also need a keen interest in agriculture, the ability to be organised and have a willingness to learn in a constantly changing environment.
What experience did you have before starting?
I grew up on a family farm and worked on a number of large arable units before joining Agrii. I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in agriculture and crop management from Harper Adams University College in 2010. I guess you could say farming is in the blood.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a similar role?
My biggest piece of advice would be to gain as much arable experience as possible beforehand. You need to be prepared to work hard and be adaptable to change.
Give us an idea of salaries
The starting salaries are dependent on the person, their skill set and level of experience already gained.
Find out about more jobs
You can find further inspiration about the wide range of careers on offer in the food and farming sector on the Bright Crop website.
The website showcase the full range of careers across the sector and asks people who are doing the jobs to talk about what it involved, what they like and even what is not quite as exciting.
Bright Crop’ s mission is to inspire young people to consider careers in food and farming; to inform them of the diverse skills and qualifications needed to succeed and to connect them to a network of passionate industry ambassadors.
While predominantly aimed at people without a farming background – with the aim of changing preconceptions about the industry – the website is also a very useful resource for people with prior knowledge about agriculture.
See more at www.brightcrop.org.uk