An agricultural consultant is a scientist who advises clients on topics related to farming, land management, crops and conservation. She may provide counsel to the private or public sector. An agricultural consultant normally works as an independent contractor, for a government agency or as part of a consulting firm.
Agricultural counseling is normally required by a diverse mixture of people. Conservation groups often seek advice from the consultant on land preservation issues. Farmers, landowners and growers commonly contact an agricultural consultant to help them resolve problems related to livestock, land use and crop management.
The two areas in which an agricultural consultant most often provides advice are related to business and technical practices. Business topics on which she commonly provides guidance include personnel administration, financial planning and investment strategies. Technical subjects on which she advises frequently include soil and water conservation, environmental regulations and nutrition source options for different types of livestock and crops.
A consultant in this field often visits her clients at their places of business or at their farms or ranches. If the advice sought pertains to livestock or crops, she may examine the animals with a veterinarian to understand the problems or walk the land to observe areas of concern. Reviewing financial records and budget projections may be in order if the consultant is asked for business advice.
Since an agricultural consultant is normally well informed on laws that affect land use and environment impacts, she is commonly required to advise on the preparation of grant applications and business plans. She is also regularly asked to assist in analyzing agricultural data and reports and help clients choose options to improve their crop yields or generally increase revenues. Community groups often feature an agricultural consultant at presentations and demonstrations related to farming, agribusiness and environmental topics.
Good communication skills are normally essential to the success of an agricultural consultant. She is regularly required to make oral presentations on agricultural topics. She also typically writes flyers and brochures on agricultural topics, provides technical notes to environmental scientists and submits press releases and articles to the media.
A bachelor’s degree in environmental science, animal husbandry, biology or a related science is highly desirable. Many employers require a candidate to have a master’s degree to be considered for a job as an agricultural consultant. Experience in the agricultural industry is strongly preferred. Background in research and agricultural science is considered a plus for applicants, as is current knowledge of agricultural laws and legislative issues related to farming and land use.