Every industry requires a specialized set of skills – and agriculture is no exception.
Career offerings in agriculture vary enormously – including (but not limited to) engineering, science, finance, and general labour. Both hard skills and soft skills are necessary to stand out among others in the industry, whether it’s in an interview or in the workplace.
We’ve highlighted 5 notable skills that all professionals in agriculture should have and practice regularly for their continued success.
This is a skill that is transferable from industry to industry – but adaptability is particularly important for anyone considering a career in agriculture.
What you learn in school may be different from what you learn on the job. For example, it’s one thing to study soil in a classroom – it’s quite another to make the leap to testing arable lands in specific regions in Canada, such as the prairies. That individual’s assessment could be the difference between a successful and a failed crop.
Adaptability is also necessary on the business side of agriculture, with professionals needing to be able to learn and adapt quickly to meeting changing consumer demands. The industry itself is also quickly changing, with new challenges constantly presenting themselves. This means agriculture professionals must be able to adequately address these new obstacles by quickly adopting new methods advanced by technological innovation, in addition to predicting what new challenges lie ahead.
2) Interpersonal skills
For agriculture professionals working in supply chain management, interpersonal skills are incredibly important. They are routinely required to interact with farmers who produce raw materials, and deliver these goods to other firms. These firms will either send the product to another location for further manufacturing, or directly to the consumer.
SCM professionals must also be able to listen to the needs of their suppliers and consumers to ensure all needs and targets are met, ultimately developing enduring business relationships that contribute to longevity.
The ability to negotiate is incredibly important in the agriculture industry. Farmers, associations and the many advocacy groups that represent them must demonstrate interpersonal prowess when entering formal and informal dialogue with independent regulatory bodies, key stakeholders, and of course, the government.
Finally, strong interpersonal skills are necessary for those involved in public relations, sales, advertising or an area of expertise that relies heavily on effective, strategic communication.
3) Time management and organization skills
This is a skill you’ve probably developed during your time in school. Strong time management and organization skills are a huge asset when breaking into the agriculture industry.
For agriculture professionals working in logistics, organization skills is a must. These professionals are tasked with ensuring that raw materials are properly transported, stored and delivered from producer, to wholesaler, to consumer. It is not unusual for agriculture professionals to work with a variety of products, as well as a variety of farmers and numerous clients. In short, strong organizational skills may be a strong determining factor in one’s success in this role.
Time management and organization are also important for those in the field – including labourers, farmers, and machine operators. With most of their products being dependent on the seasons, they must factor in things like weather conditions to ensure they can both meet consumer demands and sustain their farming businesses during the off season.
This doesn’t mean you have to buy every new gizmo or gadget that hits the market – but knowledge of where technology is going, particularly in terms of agriculture practices, is incredibly important. This includes a focus on things such as irrigation, pesticide-use, and improving methods and techniques of cultivation, harvest, storage and transport.
This also means agriculture professionals need to embrace technological development. More often than not, the “early birds” who embrace new technological advances often benefit the most. This doesn’t mean you must jump on every bandwagon that you hear of – but professionals, particularly farming owners and operators, should always be aware of what new technologies may offer and determine whether adopting new techniques, instruments and advancements are beneficial to their specific venture.