What does an agricultural economist do?

Agricultural economist job description

Working as an agricultural economist involves much more than milking cows or plowing fields. As an interface between economy and agriculture, they are experts in economic relationships in agriculture, agricultural technology, animal husbandry, and nature conservation. In addition to business administration, politics also play an essential role.

Agricultural economists deal with the organization and management in agriculture. This includes both plant and animal production and agricultural engineering. They look at companies, ministries, and other agrarian institutions from a business perspective and do not neglect the problems of resource use, sustainability, and environmental protection. You plan the cultivation and agricultural production and analyze the profitability of work and production processes. In addition to business and commercial work in production and processing, you can also work in customer service and sales, such as advising farmers on fertilizers, feed, pesticides, seeds, Breeding animals, agricultural machinery, and sound equipment. They work with scientists from related disciplines to research seeds, feed, and fertilizers in the development area.

The possible uses of agricultural economists are diverse. They manage agricultural service or production companies, work in the processing and marketing of farm products, advise agrarian companies, and sell products from the farming supplier industry. They can find employment with pesticide or fertilizer manufacturers and operators of biogas and biomass plants as well as with mechanical engineering companies. Also, they take on planning and administrative tasks in specialist authorities, associations, and agricultural institutions. They can also take on activities in agrarian testing.

As in other areas, digitization also has an impact on work in agriculture. This ranges from GPS-controlled autonomous steering systems in the fields to sensors for recording weather data to control irrigation and give recommendations for optimal fertilization. Sensors can also record data on animals’ health and report, for example, when a cow starts to calve. To use new technologies such as networking large amounts of data and machines, specialists in agricultural economics must acquire the appropriate knowledge. Besides, agriculture has to adapt to changing soil and weather conditions due to climate change. Increasing periods of heat and drought, as well as storms and floods, require constant training,

Agricultural economist responsibilities and requirements

The prerequisite for working as an agricultural economist is specialist knowledge of natural science and economics. These are acquired through a suitable, completed degree in agricultural science, agriculture, agricultural management, or in a degree with comparable content. For management positions and specialized activities in science and research, a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate or habilitation is usually required. Specific priorities can already be set during the course of studies that suggest activity in the relevant area. This can be a specialization in the technical or economic area or the breeding and keeping of certain animals, or the cultivation of certain plants.

The skills that agricultural economists should bring with them can vary depending on the field of activity. To assess the vegetation in cultivated areas and organize the sale of farm products, applicants should be interested in organizational-checking activities. The work in the development of seeds, feed, and fertilizers, and the design of environmentally friendly and economically viable production processes, require the implementation of theoretical-abstract activities. Interest in practical tasks, on the other hand, requires setting up agricultural machinery. Observation accuracy is necessary for the early detection of diseases in plants and animals and the evaluation of laboratory tests.

Also, the individual production processes’ costs must be precisely determined, and time schedules or accounts must be drawn up without errors. Flexibility and a willingness to perform and work are required, as additional work in fields, stables, or in the office may be necessary depending on the season. There is often a change between sales and monitoring activities on one’s farm or during the advisory work on a farm. Delays can also occur due to the weather, leading to time pressure and additional effort during the harvest. When the weather changes, you often have to decide when to harvest quickly. Communication skills and customer and service orientation are essential for the individual advice of agricultural businesses.