Agricultural/Horticultural Field Representative
Māngai Taiao Ahuwhenua
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives sell products such as farm equipment, and advise clients on crop and livestock management.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives with up to three years’ experience usually earn
$55K-$90K per year
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives with more than three years' experience usually earn
$90K-$120K per year
Source: PGG Wrightson Seeds and PGG Wrightson, 2019.
Pay for agricultural/horticultural field representatives varies depending on their position in the company, ability, experience, and incentives or profit-sharing arrangements.
- Cadet or trainee agricultural/horticultural field representatives usually start on about $55,000 a year.
- Agricultural/horticultural field representatives with two to three years' experience usually earn between $70,000 and $90,000.
- Agricultural/horticultural field representatives with more than three years' experience can earn from $90,000 to $120,000.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives with over three years' experience sometimes earn a base salary and commission.
Sources: PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, 2019; and PGG Wrightson, 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives may do some or all of the following:
- advise clients about product usage, pasture, and crop and livestock management
- negotiate the sale of agricultural/horticultural products and services
- buy and sell seeds and grains on farms.
Skills and knowledge
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives need to have knowledge of:
- animal handling
- stock breeds, stock health and nutrition
- soil types and fertility
- pasture and crop species and varieties
- environmental impacts
- performance of products such as farm equipment and agrichemicals
- market values and trends, profitability and how climatic conditions affect market prices
- how to sell agricultural products and services
- legislative requirements.
Self-employed agricultural/horticultural field representatives running their own business also require small business skills.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives:
- usually work a 40-hour week but may work longer and irregular hours in summer and autumn during harvest seasons
- work on farms and in offices
- work outdoors in all weather conditions
- travel frequently between workplaces.
What's the job really like?
Agricultural/horticultural field representative video
Jo talks about her role as an agricultural field representative – 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/horticultural field representative. However, a diploma or degree in agriculture, horticulture, commerce or farm management is recommended. Knowledge of farm management and farming techniques is an advantage.
A Growsafe Agrichemical Supplier Certificate may be useful for agricultural/horticultural 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.
- Primary ITO website - information on rural servicing courses
- Growsafe website - information on the agrichemical supplier certificate
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an agricultural/horticultural field representative. However, agricultural and horticultural science, agribusiness, biology, business studies, maths and English are useful.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives need to:
- have good communication skills, including the ability to relate to a wide range of people
- be able to build and maintain relationships
- be hard-working, friendly, patient and able to inspire confidence
- be good negotiators
- be accurate and able to use good judgement
- have good planning, organisational and problem-solving skills
- have record-keeping skills.
Useful experience for agricultural/horticultural field representatives includes:
- merchandise sales for a retail servicing company
- general farm work, including farm management
- work on agricultural or horticultural crop farms.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives need to be fit and healthy, as they may walk around farms for inspections.
Find out more about training
- Primary Industry Training Organisation
- 0800 208020 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.primaryito.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Good chances of getting a job
Opportunities for agricultural/horticultural field representatives come up regularly because:
- the agricultural and horticultural sectors are growing
- more representatives being required to service clients
- vacancies arise due to staff resignations, retirements and promotions.
Experienced agricultural/horticultural field representatives are in high demand and are often offered jobs by rival companies looking to expand their business.
According to the Census, 840 agricultural/horticultural field representatives worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Agricultural/horticultural field representative jobs not always advertised
Agricultural/horticultural field representative vacancies are not always advertised, as most companies fill roles through internal promotions or by agriculture or horticulture graduates approaching them directly.
Most nationwide companies operate a trainee programme for new entrants or graduates.
Types of employers varied
Employers of agricultural/horticultural field representatives include:
- agricultural/horticultural supply businesses
- specialist grain and seed companies
- fertiliser companies
- multinational agrichemical companies
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives are usually based at a branch office, store or depot of their employer. A few agricultural field representatives are self-employed.
- Manderson, R, HR Advisor, PGG Wrightson Ltd, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2019.
- McLaughlan, M, HR Advisor, PGG Wrightson Ltd, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2019.
- Smith, M, HR Advisor, PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, careers.govt.nz interview, July 2019.
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives may progress to work in territory sales management or move into senior management roles.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives may specialise in working within a particular sector of the agricultural industry such as sheep, beef and dairy, or with seed and grain production.
Agricultural/horticultural field representatives may also specialise in working within a particular sector of the horticultural industry such as fruit, nut or vegetable crop production.
Last updated 18 September 2020