Agricultural Field Representative
Māngai Taiao Ahuwhenua
Agricultural field representatives sell products such as farm equipment, and advise clients on crop and livestock management.
Agricultural field representatives with less than two years’ experience usually earn
$45K-$55K per year
Agricultural field representatives with two to three years' experience usually earn
$55K-$70K per year
Source: PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, 2016.
Pay for agricultural field representatives varies depending on their position in the company, ability, experience, and commission/profit-sharing arrangements:
- Cadet or trainee agricultural field representatives can expect to start on about $45,000 a year.
- With two to three years' experience, they usually earn between $55,000 and $70,000.
- Very experienced agricultural field respresentatives can earn over $120,000.
Agricultural field representatives sometimes earn a base salary and commission, though trainees are usually not paid a commission until they gain experience. The employer also usually provides a uniform, vehicle, phone and expenses.
Source: PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Agricultural field representatives may do some or all of the following:
- advise farmers about product usage, pasture, and crop and livestock management
- negotiate the sale of agricultural products and services
- buy and sell seeds and grains on farms.
Skills and knowledge
Agricultural field representatives need to have knowledge of:
- animal handling
- stock breeds, stock health and nutrition
- pasture and crop species and varieties
- performance of products such as farm equipment and agrichemicals
- soil types and fertility
- market values and trends, profitability and how climatic conditions affect market prices
- how to sell agricultural products and services.
Self-employed agricultural field representatives running their own business also require small business skills.
Agricultural field representatives:
- usually work a 40-hour week but may work slightly longer and irregular hours in summer and autumn due to the demands of the harvest, and may need to work evenings and weekends occasionally
- work on farms, at home and in offices
- work outdoors in all weather conditions
- travel frequently between workplaces.
What's the job really like?
Agricultural Field Representative
What qualities does an agricultural field representative need?
"You need to have energy, confidence and honesty. Of the three I think honesty is the most important.
"But confidence is important as well, because otherwise farmers will be reluctant to give you their business. Every time you talk with them you have to leave a good impression – show you're confident and can do the job."
What does the job involve?
"You need to be constantly keeping up with the play – following the market, keeping an eye on stock sale prices, watching what the meat export schedule is doing, and keeping in touch with what's happening around the regions.
"You're always talking to other farmers and stock agents, finding out what the feed situation is like in different areas so you know where you might be able to shift stock if it gets dry in your patch and the grass stops growing."
What recommendations would you have for someone thinking about getting into the job?
"The best thing I did was spend a year learning alongside a senior agent, because you learn the right way to do things – how to talk to people and how to approach different situations."
Jo talks about her role as an agricultural field representative at Pioneer Brand Products – 3.45 mins.
A typical day really depends what time of the season it is. Right now, we’re coming to the end of May silage season so a typical day for me would be out on the road, on farm as well with merchant reps, contractors and the farmer. We’d be walking crops and looking at what stage they were at and how far away from harvest they might be. Other times of the year I’ll be on farm helping with farmers and their feeding, feeding maize silage to cows, and the rest of the time it could be staff training at merchant stores or just upskilling contractors.
I’ve grown up in the industry. My dad was an agricultural contractor before we went farming when I was about 10. We have a sheep and beef and a cropping block at home so I’ve grown up with crops and machinery all my life. So I’ve always been interested in how they all work as part of the agricultural industry.
I went to Lincoln University and did an ag-commerce degree for three years. I also did some travelling before I started my working life, driving tractors and combines over in Canada. I came home and decided that I’d love to be out on the road. I’d always thought that that would be a great job. You get to be on farm with the farmers but not actually have to own your farm which is good.
I got my first job after uni through a graduate programme with Elders New Zealand and they were really interested in me because I had been overseas and done some work and interacted with lots of different types of people. So they thought that was really beneficial for the type of role they were trying to create as a graduate agronomist.
The biggest challenge for me in this role is more around the seasonal challenges. Weather plays such a big part in what we do and the choices we make. Sometimes we have to be really quick thinking and change what we had originally planned to do. But that’s also part of the excitement. You have to be quick on your feet sometimes.
A big part of my job is customer relationship building so it doesn’t matter if you don’t come from a farming background or anything like that. As long as you are a really good relationship builder and have good levels of customer service, and are really friendly and approachable you can learn all about your products as part of your training.
How I see my role as being important on farm is that we’re like a partnership with the farmer. A farmer can’t be good at doing everything, so we can come with the knowledge or skills, depending on our product, and partner alongside them and help them get the best for their business.
We come with new ways of doing things quite often. Technology is always changing. Whether that’s a new type of chemical perhaps for their maize, or a new way of building a silage stack, or harvesting their crop at a different time. There’s always new technology and information coming to light that we try and bring to the farmer to help them make the best decisions.
To get your first job in the industry as a field rep I would do some research. Find what company you might like to work for or what products you might like to sell. Get in touch with your closest field rep – you’d probably be able to find most of them on the internet. Give them a call, ask if you can spend some time with them. Most of them would be more than happy to take you out for a day. And see how it feels and whether you think you’d like to do this.
There are no specific requirements to become an agricultural field representative. However, a diploma or degree in agriculture, commerce or farm management is recommended. Knowledge of farm management and farming techniques is an advantage.
A National Certificate in Agrichemical Supply (Level 3) may be useful for agricultural field representatives involved in the supply of agrichemicals to farmers, and a New Zealand Certificate in Rural Servicing (Level 4) may also be useful. Both can be completed while working on the job.
A driver's licence is usually required.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an agricultural field representative. However, biology, agriculture and horticulture, agribusiness, business studies, maths and English are useful.
Agricultural field representatives need to:
- have good communication skills, including the ability to relate to a wide range of people
- be hard-working, friendly, patient and able to inspire confidence
- be good negotiators
- be accurate and able to use good judgement because mistakes can be costly
- have good planning, organisational and problem-solving skills
- have record-keeping skills.
Useful experience for agricultural field representatives includes:
- merchandise sales for a retail servicing company
- farm work, including farm management.
Agricultural field representatives need to be fit and healthy, as they may need to walk around farms and inspect machinery, fields and livestock. Some lifting may also be involved if delivering products.
Find out more about training
- Get Ahead
- 0800 69934636 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.getahead.co.nz
- Primary Industry Training Organisation
- 0800 208020 - email@example.com - www.primaryito.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for agricultural field representatives come up regularly because:
- the agricultural sector is growing
- vacancies arise due to resignations, retirements and promotions.
Experienced agricultural field representatives are in high demand and are often offered jobs by rival companies looking to expand their business.
Agricultural field representative jobs not always advertised
Agricultural field representative vacancies are not always advertised, as most companies fill roles through internal promotions, word of mouth, or by interested people or agriculture graduates approaching them directly.
Most nationwide companies operate a trainee programme for new entrants.
Types of employers varied
Employers of agricultural field representatives include:
- agricultural supply businesses
- specialist grain and seed companies
- fertiliser companies
- multinational agrichemical companies
Agricultural field representatives are usually based at a branch office, store or depot of their employer. A few agricultural field representatives are self-employed.
There are approximately 1,000 agricultural field representatives working at various locations around New Zealand, according to industry sources.
- Gerard, G, general manager, production, PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Agricultural field representatives may progress to work in territory sales management or senior management roles in their company.
They may also specialise in working within a particular sector of the agricultural industry such as sheep, beef and dairy, or with seed and grain production.
Last updated 25 September 2018