Nigel Woodhead

Job: Field Consultant     Area: Mid Canterbury

The Field Consultant

Brief introduction about yourself:
I was brought up on a sheep and beef farm near Milton, south of Dunedin. I went to high school in Dunedin and then University at Lincoln University.After leaving University I went to Australia and did a harvest near Esperence (WA) and then came back and started as Research Assistant at Midlands Seed. After 18 months I started on the road as Field Consultant which I have been doing for 18 months.

What does being Field Consultant involve?
There are a few different parts to the job but I am mainly the link between the farmers and the company. I am allocated crops by the company and am responsible for placing them with my farmers and then looking after them right from planting through to harvest. I am responsible for a lot of the management of the crops and the decisions of what happens and when.

What is involved on a typical day?
I am out and about most of the day looking at crops and talking to farmers. I like to catch up with all of the farmers with crop for me regularly to see how they are feeling, how things are going and to explain what needs to be done so there is a lot of talking and explaining what’s happening.Walking paddocks involves checking growth stages, checking for disease and pests and then figuring out how to fix any issues which are there.

What does qualifying for this job entail?
These days most of the new people coming into the industry have agricultural degrees but that is not essential. In general a good understanding of plant science and a bit of an understanding of arable production is as important as anything. A lot of what I use on a day to day basis was taught on the job but the basic understanding of why things are done I learnt at Uni and that is quite important. Being able to communicate with farmers and having something in common is a big thing because if you don’t get on with your growers it is pretty hard.

What do you love most about your job?
There is a good mix of things to do from day to day. I am always out and about talking to farmers and walking paddocks, not stuck in an office. I am very lucky with the area which I have to look after, there are some very good farmers who are great to deal with and I am always learning from them too which is a good thing.

What qualities are important to be a Field Consultant?
Being able to have a conversation with people about anything from the rugby in the weekend to whats going on on the farm to the currency and markets is pretty important. If you are able to have a conversation about something totally irrelevant to the farm and work it is handy to break the ice and form a relationship. Relationships with your growers are the most important thing. And being organised, there are a lot of things to remember and do in a day so being well organised is essential.

If you could give advice to someone leaving school, what would this be?
Do something you enjoy and that you can see a future in. If you’re going to go to university, do something you enjoy and are going to do well in. Especially when it comes to agriculture, it’s not the degree you end up with so much as it is the fact you have done a degree and your personality that will get you across the line with potential employers. Get as much experience in as many different parts of the industry as possible. Work for a dairy farm for a while, then a sheep farm and in an allied industry so that you have a little bit of knowledge about everything, that is very valuable later in life, you never know where you may end up in the long run.

Back to The Real World
nigel woodhead4

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: Chemistry, Biology Statistics, Calculus and English

University: University - Bachelor of Agriculture and Science