Technical Advisors, or Farm Business Advisors, offer specialist advice and support to farmers, helping the farm enterprise, for example crop production or rearing livestock, is performing at their best.
This may involve identifying and providing solutions to overcome technical problems, such as diseases in crops or livestock, feeding livestock, farm building construction as well as monitoring the financial impact of changes.
Technical Advisors may have a specialism in one area, such as dairy livestock, poultry, farm mechanisation or farm management or agronomy. They may advise farmers on one particular area as well as assist with business planning and cash flow budgeting.
Tasks may include:
- Giving presentations and organising demonstrations
- Facilitating farmer discussion groups and knowledge transfer
- Collecting and analysing information
- Planning the use of pest control measures and implementing plans for pest control
- Working out better ways of keeping and feeding livestock
- Advising growers and farmers on how to get the best out of their business
- Planning and agreeing the management of livestock systems
- Liaising with businesses which produce seeds or chemicals for agriculture and horticulture to find out about their product
Technical Advisors can work closely with farmers and growers, manufacturers of products such as animal feeds and seeds, Veterinary Surgeons and with Agricultural Scientists that carry out research. They use computers for report writing and specialist equipment for carrying out tests when necessary.
Some Technical Advisors also work in research and development, and extension work where scientific research results are put into practice on a farm. Technical Advisors will often be part of a company that sells its services to the agricultural industry such as a farm consultancy firm or a livestock feed manufacturer, so will ideally need sales and marketing skills as well as technical skills.
Technical Advisors normally work 39 hours per week. However, they may have to work outside of these hours depending on their role as they may need to visit farms at convenient times for the farmer and certain times of the year that are busier than others.
A lot of the work is carried out in an office or on the farm. If research or analysis is part of the role, sometimes they will work partly in a laboratory. There may be opportunities for part-time work and job share.
Technical Advisors may have to wear protective clothing on farms, in greenhouses or in laboratories and adhere to biosecurity requirements to ensure infections are not spread from farm to farm.
Salaries vary with experience, qualifications and between companies, but here's a guide to what you can expect.
There are opportunities for Technical Advisors throughout the country.
Many farm consultancy firms will offer development schemes for Graduates or Assistant Farm Consultants to be trained and gain experience in analysing farm accounts, technical specialisms, sales and marketing, working towards becoming a Technical Advisor.
Experience of farm work or horticulture is normally required along with a sound knowledge of farm management.
Most Technical Advisors will hold a degree in agriculture or a related science. Degree subjects include animal nutrition, animal science, biological science, crop science, and horticulture and soil science. Courses are offered by many universities and colleges throughout the UK.
A postgraduate degree in a specialist subject such as animal production, soil science, seed and crop technology or poultry science could be helpful.
What experienced workers can do
- Manage budgets and develop marketing and sales plans
- Provide financial forecasts
- Analyse information and present it in an easily understood format
- Monitor and control the use of resources
- Communication skills
- Good sales and marketing skills
- Plan and agree the management of systems within the enterprise
- Monitor and evaluate the management of systems
- Recommend improvements to environmental performance
- Develop, negotiate and agree proposals to offer services and products.
Personal qualities you should have
- Accurate, with good attention to detail
- Well organised
- Able to adopt a flexible approach to work.
With experience, Technical Advisors can move into more senior positions, become industry leaders in their technical specialism and move into management roles leading a team of consultants within their firms. This may involve more office-based work and less time travelling to farms and other outlets.
With the appropriate qualifications there may also be opportunities to teach at university or college. Since land-based industries are worldwide, there are opportunities for working abroad.