Farm Managers role
Each farm is unique and a farm manager’s responsibilities will vary widely.
The main focus will be concerning the care and production of livestock (cows, pigs, and sheep), dairy and crop production (cereals, oilseed rape, vegetables).
In addition, the farm manager will also be involved in the farm’s planning strategies to maximise the yield and profitability and viability of the farm. Farm administration, machinery upkeep, dealing with suppliers and managing farm staff is all required.
A farm manager will need to possess good technical and practical skills and be confident in making business decisions that will affect the farm.
A farm manager will need to understand and be knowledgeable of the regulations set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). These regulations are in place in order to ensure the manager provides safe, high-quality produce farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Typically the farm manager will manage the day to day activities of the farm. Specific tasks will depend on the type of farm involved, but in general could include the following:
- Planning finances and production to maintain farm progress in line with budgets.
- Driving tractors, operating machinery, feeding livestock, spraying fields.
- Marketing the farm’s products.
- Buying supplies such as fertiliser and seeds.
- Bringing their knowledge on crop rotation, and growing cycles.
- Arranging the maintenance and repair of farm buildings, machinery and equipment.
- Mentoring and monitoring trainee staff
- Maintaining and monitoring the quality of yield, whether livestock or crops.
- Understanding the implications of the weather and making contingency plans.
- Ensuring products are ready for deadlines, such as auctions and markets.
- Ensuring that farm activities comply with government regulations.
- Monitoring animal health and welfare and liaising with vets.
- Maintaining 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.
Also to be considered is the landowner’s need to diversify their activities in order to supplement their income. Supplementary activities may include:
- Bed and breakfast or holiday lets.
- Field sports/shoots and off-roading.
- Wind power generation.
- Speciality herds, such as llamas and alpacas.
- Farm shops.
- Fishing lakes.
- Horse trials, livery stables and riding schools.
- Worm farming.
- Vegetables or cold pressed oils and other food products.
- Flowers and herbs.
An assistant or trainee farm manager would expect in the region of £18,000 to £22,000pa.
A junior farm manager with less than 10 years’ experience would anticipate £24,000 to £35,000pa.
An experienced farm manager with 10-15 years’ experience can command £50,000pa.
A senior consultancy or advisory role could be worth around £70,000pa.
Salaries are always dependent on experience and the size of the farm. Other benefits typically include farm produce, a pension scheme and private health insurance. Accommodation may also be included as part of the salary package, and/or the use of a farm vehicle and phone.
Other factors to consider
Farm managers are on call day and night, seven days a week. The work pattern is seasonally influenced, often with 16-hour days at busy times, such as harvesting and lambing. Seasonal labour can reduce the manager’s direct involvement in the day-to-day work on the farm.
The work can be highly stressful due to factors beyond the farm manager’s control such as fluctuations in market prices and the weather. Both create uncertainty and can make long-term planning difficult.
Much of the work can be office-based, but a lot of the farm’s activities are highly dependent on the weather.
A farm manager should be prepared for an element of isolation, although many farming communities do have a strong social life.
Travel can sometimes be a part of the job. Where farming companies and growers have interests abroad, opportunities to work overseas are increasing..