Focus on sustainability

Erica van Reenen, agricultural and environmental consultant: I do a wide range of work with farmers. I also do projects for industry and government.

Most of the work is focused on sustainability of farm systems, and that's everything from the economics through to social sustainability. And that's a skill set I have a specialty with.

My role is very much about bridging often between environment and agriculture.

For most of the farmers that I work with, it's not actually something they see as a gap either. So they're like me - strong links to the land and it's very important to them that they manage the land sustainably.

Where often the challenge is, is understanding where the new pressures are, how new science is influencing policy makers and perhaps what that means on farm.

As a consultant I do a good range of sitting at my desk, tapping out reports; and doing really detailed analysis and reading scientific papers; as well as getting out on farm and looking at animals and having conversations with farmers.

I really enjoy getting out there and digging holes and moving sheep and yelling at dogs and everything else. It's just a lack of time, mostly.

My advice for young people interested in a land-based career, so it could be environment, it could be agriculture. It could be anything that's linked to that - so vets, finance, accountants, bankers - my advice is to keep your options open.

Follow what you're passionate about. Make sure that you're not following the easy route necessarily but think about what works for you, what drives you, and what value you can add to the industry.

We need, in this sector, talented people across the whole spectrum. There's huge opportunities for pretty much any career. If you want to work hard and achieve things, this is the place to be.