Farms once employed large numbers of unskilled; relatively uneducated people, producing less per acre; and in a less sophisticated way.
Developments in science and technology have been changing how farming happens though. Today's industry is more sophisticated, mechanised and through application of modern technologies; the modern farm can produce a lot more per acre, with a lot less people working on the farm.
What does this mean?
- Farming is an industry that isn't going away -it can employ you for your entire life
- Farms increasingly need managers and technicians, rather than unskilled labourers
- Ongoing changes (technological and structural) are creating new opportunities constantly
- Farming suits anyone with a sharp mind, a technological bent and a personality that relishes change and challenge.
What has Changed?
People traditionally entered farming because they were born into it. Growing up on a farm certainly gives you a unique perspective on farm practices; and the idea of son learning from father has worked well for thousands of years. This traditional approach to farming however, often doesn't work so well for the modern far,. Part of the reason may be because the things that a father knew so well in the past; may be largely redundant for the son to use in the future.
- Technology has resulted in both much smaller and much larger farms eg. Aquaponic farms grow a lot more produce per acre; large companies have amalgamated many smaller farms into mega farming operations taking advantage of scales of economy.
- Farm produce is being sold much wider afield; meaning both more competition, and more opportunity
- Environmental and economic sustainability have become of greater importance
- More aspects of farm work is outsourced -to contractors with specialist skills or equipment
- Product quality and diversity has become increasingly important
It is important to recognise that change is continuous in agriculture! All these things that have changed will undoubtedly continue to change.
When you work in agriculture you can either be someone who is working with and benefiting from change; or one who is disrupted by change!
Preparing for a Lifetime in Agriculture
It is impossible to predict the exact nature of opportunities in future farming. It is certain though that the opportunities will be greatest for people who have the following attributes:
- A high level of technical and scientific knowledge in the field of agriculture
- Good networking within the industry ie. involved with colleagues, always aware of trends and developments, a good communicator
- Good Management skills: to manage yourself, organisations, properties, services, people, finance, etc
- A creative mind, and attitude that embraces change and always strives for improvement
You don't necessarily need a diploma or degree -but to excel you need a level of knowledge and skill that comparable to what a couple of years of full time study might bring -but also a good combination of diverse experiences beyond that.
Preparing for a lifetime in agriculture can take a lifetime -if you love learning; and keep learning and adapting; your chances of success will be great.
Get our Farm Management ebook here to learn more.