October 20, 2023
How We Train Future Agronomists: A Leading Farm Advice, Technology, and Supply Business
A decade ago, the agronomy industry was facing a staffing crisis. The average age of an agronomist was creeping ever higher; many were approaching retirement, and few young people were entering the industry. We have been instrumental in turning this situation around by investing in attracting and training talented young men and women into the profession.
Our ‘iq’ Training Programme: Shaping the Future of Agronomy
Our training program, ‘iq,’ is credited with training 60 new agronomists between 2016 and 2023. Our program is thoughtfully structured, breaking down into sections aimed at providing trainees with the necessary technical knowledge, core business acumen, and interpersonal skills for their future careers.
The agronomy program consists of 15 to 20 modules, tailored to individual requirements. This comprehensive approach supports trainees in gaining their professional qualifications, including the BASIS certificate in crop protection and FACTS. Many graduates also pursue a BASIS diploma, starting with Soil and Water. So far, 27 of our staff members have achieved their BASIS diploma, with another 6 completing the Harper Adams equivalent diploma.
A Comprehensive Learning Experience
Participants in the ‘iq’ program have the opportunity to meet key individuals within our organization, allowing them to explore various facets of our business. Our team continuously reviews and enhances the program to ensure it remains adaptable to the evolving challenges agronomists will face. One of the upcoming changes under consideration is the implementation of a formal mentor scheme to bolster participants’ training and budding careers at our company.
“We’ve been running the ‘iq’ program for several years,” says Mark Taylor, our Head of Agronomy. “The ‘iq’ stands for ‘I qualify,’ and it’s a program that focuses on training future agronomists and crop input specialists, while remaining open to any of our employees seeking self-improvement in a specific area.”
Tailored Training for Personal Growth
Our ‘iq’ program distinguishes itself from others by its adaptability. There’s no fixed number of participants, and the program is tailored to each intake of new staff. A customized training package is designed for each individual, addressing their specific needs, whether it’s practical or academic in nature.
Mark explains, “The ‘iq’ program isn’t rigid. Just as a new entrant can carve their own path at our company, the program’s size and scope mirror the opportunities available within the leading farm advice, technology, and supply business in the UK. Career choices depend on interests, abilities, and opportunities.”
Success Story: Miles Doncaster
Agrii Development Agronomist Miles Doncaster successfully completed the ‘iq’ program last year. Despite initial uncertainties about pursuing agronomy, Miles seized the opportunity to work for us during his university summer break. This experience solidified his desire to pursue a career in agronomy after graduation.
Miles, who studied business studies and management at the University of Leeds, underscores the relevance of his education in his role as a development agronomist. “There’s a strong relationship aspect to the role, and working for a company like Agrii offers insights into how a large business operates.”
Miles finds gratification in being a trusted source of information for growers. “There’s mutual respect between agronomists and farmers. Agronomists appreciate the tremendous work done by farmers, and growers recognize the value we bring to their business.”
A Unique and Rewarding Career
Every day in agronomy is unique, and Miles relishes the freedom to plan his own schedule. “I enjoy the freedom of planning my day. I choose when I start and finish based on the work I must do. There are times throughout the season when I am on a beautiful farm, and it is a sunny evening when I cannot believe this is my job.”
Striving for Excellence
Miles embarked on his BASIS course shortly after joining us, with ‘iq’ program sessions running concurrently with his training. These sessions provided a foundation for essential knowledge, especially for those without an agriculture-related background. As the program advanced, it equipped him with the comprehensive skills needed to excel as an agronomist.
Miles acknowledges the pivotal role of the ‘iq’ program in his journey. “Without ‘iq,’ I would have struggled to manage all the information I had to learn for BASIS. It also created a strong support network of peers at a similar stage in their careers at Agrii.”
Now, as an ‘iq’ program graduate, Miles is determined to build his client portfolio and become an expert in specific areas of agronomy. His ambitions include studying BASIS advanced potatoes and soil and water.