Career Development

What Does a Farmer Do?

Find out what a farmer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a farmer.

Farmers are responsible for growing and harvesting crops, raising livestock, and producing food. They work hard every day to ensure that we have the food we need to survive. Farmers may specialize in one area of agriculture or they may be generalists who grow a variety of different crops or raise a number of different types of animals.

Farmers must know a great deal about their industry—from how to properly plant seeds and care for young plants to how to manage large equipment and handle complex chemicals.

Farmer Job Duties

Farmers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring crop growth and soil conditions to ensure that they are suitable for growing each specific crop
  • Maintaining equipment such as tractors, plows, harvesters, sprayers, and irrigation systems
  • Planting seeds, seedslings, or cuttings in preparation for growing crops
  • Cultivating fields to prepare them for planting by removing weeds, preparing soil, and adding fertilizer or other materials
  • Inspecting fields regularly for signs of disease or damage from insects or rodents
  • Harvesting crops at the appropriate time by hand or with the use of machinery such as combines, harvesters, or mowers
  • Planting new crops in fields after harvest season has ended
  • Weighing and transporting harvested crops to a storage facility or market
  • Planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, or other grains or plants used for food or fiber

Farmer Salary & Outlook

Farmers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of farm they work for. Some farmers may also receive bonuses based on the profits of the farm.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $115,000 ($55.29/hour)

The employment of farmers is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

The need to increase food production will continue to drive demand for farmers. However, productivity increases in agriculture have raised concerns about the environmental impacts of some farming practices. In addition, climate change may affect the types of crops that can be grown in certain areas.

Related: In-Depth Farmer Salary Guide

Farmer Job Requirements

A farmer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: A high school diploma is often a minimum requirement for a farming position. However, many farmers choose to pursue a post-secondary education in agriculture or a related field. Courses in agriculture, biology, chemistry and math can help farmers understand the science behind farming and increase their knowledge of the industry.

Training & Experience: Most farmers will receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training will teach them how to operate the machinery and equipment used on the farm. They will also learn how to care for the animals and crops.

Farmer training may also include instruction on how to handle animals and crops. For example, a farmer who works with livestock may learn how to handle the animals and how to care for them. They may also learn how to slaughter the animals.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not often required to become a farmer, but they can make you a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs or grants. Some states also require specific licenses for farmers to operate certain equipment or sell certain products.

Farmer Skills

Farmers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Mechanical skills: Farmers use mechanical skills to maintain and repair their equipment and machinery. They also use these skills to build and repair structures on their farms, such as animal sheds and storage buildings.

Technical skills: Farmers use technical skills to operate machinery, read and interpret data and use software to track their farm’s production. Technical skills can also include knowledge of new technology, such as the use of drones to monitor crops.

Problem-solving skills: A farmer’s job is full of challenges, and they need to be able to solve problems quickly and effectively. This includes knowing how to fix machinery, repair fences and find solutions to other problems that arise on the farm. Being able to solve problems quickly and effectively can help a farmer save time and money.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes in your work and surroundings. This skill is important for farmers because it allows them to notice when their crops are not growing properly or when their animals are sick. Attention to detail can also help farmers save money by noticing when their equipment needs repair or when their employees are not working as efficiently as they should.

Teamwork skills: Working with others can help farmers complete tasks more efficiently. For example, farmers may work with other farmers to transport large machinery or crops. They may also work with other farmers to develop new farming methods or to share resources.

Farmer Work Environment

Farmers typically work long hours, often more than 60 hours per week. They are up early to milk cows, feed animals, and do other chores, and they may work late into the night to finish up work that couldn’t be completed during the day. Farmers work outdoors in all kinds of weather, so they must be prepared for hot sun, cold winters, and everything in between. They also work with large, powerful machinery, which can be dangerous if it’s not used properly. Despite the long hours and challenging work, farmers take great pride in their work and feel a strong connection to the land they work on.

Farmer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how farmers work. Farmers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Technology in Farming

The use of technology in farming is becoming increasingly popular as farmers look for ways to improve efficiency and productivity. This trend is being driven by the need to keep up with the competition, as well as the increasing demand for organic products.

As technology becomes more important in farming, farmers will need to learn how to use it effectively in order to stay competitive. This may include using drones to monitor crops or software to help manage farm operations.

A Growing Interest in Organic Products

Organic products are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, who are looking for healthier alternatives to traditional foods. As a farmer, you can capitalize on this trend by producing organic products that meet the high standards set by organic certification programs.

In order to be successful in this market, you will need to be familiar with the requirements of organic certification programs and understand what customers are looking for. You will also need to be able to produce products that meet these standards at a reasonable cost.

The Importance of Sustainability

Sustainability has become an increasingly important topic in agriculture over the past few years. Farmers are now looking for ways to produce food in a way that is both sustainable and profitable.

This trend is leading many farmers to adopt practices such as organic farming, which uses fewer chemicals and produces less waste. It is also leading them to focus on producing locally-grown food, which reduces the amount of time and energy needed to transport products.

How to Become a Farmer

Farming is a great career choice for those who love the outdoors and want to be part of the food chain. There are many different types of farming, so you can find one that suits your interests and skills. You may want to start small and work your way up, or go straight to commercial farming. No matter what type of farming you choose, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the business side of things. This will help you stay profitable and competitive in the long run.

Farming is a great career choice for those who love the outdoors and want to be part of the food chain. There are many different types of farming, so you can find one that suits your interests and skills. You may want to start small and work your way up, or go straight to commercial farming. No matter what type of farming you choose, it’s important to have a strong understanding of the business side of things. This will help you stay profitable and competitive in the long run.

Related: How to Write a Farmer Resume

Advancement Prospects

Farmers may advance to management positions such as farm manager or ranch manager. Some farmers with extensive experience and good business skills may become independent consultants. A few farmers may open their own farms.

Farmers with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or a related field may qualify for jobs in agricultural sales, Extension service, or agricultural research. Those with a graduate degree may find opportunities in teaching, agribusiness, or agricultural science research.

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