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Farm manager: Job description

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Case studies

Farm managers tend to work in either animal production, dairy or crop production although some do work with all three. Livestock on farms tends to be pigs, cows or sheep while crops can cover cereals, oilseed rape, vegetables and salad.

The job is varied and includes planning strategies for maximum yield, organising farm administration, working machinery, organising associated businesses and managing staff.

Farm managers need to have technical and practical competence, as well as the ability to make sound business decisions. Farms are typically run by management companies or single-owner farmers.

Farm managers must appreciate the need to satisfy regulations set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for safe, high-quality produce farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Typical work activities

Farm managers are responsible for planning, organising and managing the activities of a farm. Specific tasks may vary depending on the type of farm but in general include:

  • planning finances and production to maintain farm progress against budget parameters;
  • practical activities, e.g. driving tractors, operating machinery, feeding livestock, spraying fields, etc;
  • marketing the farm's products;
  • buying supplies, such as fertiliser and seeds;
  • arranging the maintenance and repair of farm buildings, machinery and equipment;
  • planning activities for trainee staff, mentoring and monitoring them;
  • maintaining and monitoring the quality of yield, whether livestock or crops;
  • understanding the implications of the weather and making contingency plans;
  • making sure that products are ready for deadlines, such as auctions and markets;
  • ensuring that farm activities comply with government regulations;
  • monitoring animal health and welfare, including liaising with vets;
  • maintaining a knowledge of pests and diseases and an understanding of how they spread and how to treat them;
  • applying health and safety standards across the farm estate;
  • protecting the environment and maintaining biodiversity;
  • keeping financial records up to date.

Many farmers are now diversifying their activities to supplement their income. Supplementary activities may include:

  • providing bed and breakfast or holiday lets;
  • field sports and off-roading;
  • wind power generation;
  • speciality herds, such as llamas and alpacas;
  • farm shops selling the farm's own and other locally sourced produce;
  • creating fishing lakes;
  • horse trials, livery stables and riding schools;
  • worm farming;
  • processing their own products, e.g. vegetables or cold pressed oils.

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Written by AGCAS editors
December 2013

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