Crop Farmer/Manager Kaiahuwhenua Huangakai/Kaiwhakahaere Huangakai

Crop farmers/managers plan and manage plant production on farms and in vineyards and hothouses.

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Crop farmers/managers may do some or all of the following:

  • decide what crops to grow, and develop planting schedules
  • cultivate land 
  • plant seeds and crops, and monitor growth
  • ensure crops are watered, fertilised and pruned, and are healthy
  • manage irrigation and frost protection
  • organise the harvesting, grading and packing of crops, and arrange for sale and transport
  • buy seed, fertiliser, machinery and  other farm materials
  • check, clean and maintain equipment
  • train, organise and supervise workers and contractors
  • ensure that food safety, health and safety, and other regulations are complied with
  • keep production and financial records.

Physical Requirements

Crop farmers/managers need to be reasonably fit and healthy.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for crop farmers/managers includes:

  • farm or horticulture work
  • using specialist equipment or driving heavy vehicles
  • mechanical work
  • business management
  • working with harvesting contractors.

Personal Qualities

Crop farmers/managers need to be:

  • good administrators, with business planning skills
  • good communicators and managers
  • able to work well in a team and under pressure.


Crop farmers/managers need to have knowledge of:

  • how to grow and harvest various types of crops
  • crop diseases, weeds and pests, and how to control them
  • climate and weather conditions, and how they affect crops
  • soil and crop rotation, and cultivation and harvesting methods
  • food safety, market certification and quality requirements
  • health, safety and employment regulations
  • recruiting, training and managing staff.


Crop farmers/managers:

  • usually work between eight and 10 hours a day, but during peak seasonal harvest and planting times may worker longer hours, including weekends
  • work outdoors, or in glasshouses, nurseries, packhouses or offices
  • work in all weather conditions, with machinery and chemicals that can be hazardous
  • may have to travel locally between crop fields and to markets or suppliers.

Subject Recommendations

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include accounting, agricultural and horticultural science, business studies, maths, biology and chemistry.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills. 

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Crop Farmer/Managers can earn around $55K-$110K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Crop Farmer/Manager are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for crop farmers/managers varies depending on:

  • farm size
  • crop type
  • farm profitability, which may vary from season to season
  • prices received for the crops.

Crop farmers/managers with up to five years' experience usually earn between $55,000 and $110,000 a year.

Crop farmers/managers who work for large organisations can earn between $120,000 and $180,000.

Sources: Horticulture NZ; Trade Me Jobs; and Indeed, 2019.

Crop farmers/managers may progress into supervisory or management roles, or buy their own farms. They may also become agricultural/horticultural consultants.

Crop farmers/managers may specialise in:

Field Crop Growing
Field crop growers grow and sell grain, oilseed, wheat and other pasture crops.
Flower Growing
Flower growers grow and sell seeds, seedlings, bulbs, buds and flowers.
Grape Growing
Grape growers grow grapes for making wine.
Horticultural Contracting
Horticultural contractors are self-employed. They organise one or more gangs of workers to prune, pick and do other work for crop farmers.
Mixed Crop Farming
Mixed crop farmers grow and sell a variety of crops.
Vegetable Growers
Vegetable growers grow and sell vegetables

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become a crop farmer/manager as you gain skills on the job.

However, a New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Production (Level 4) or a diploma or degree in horticulture may be useful.

You can also train on the job through Primary ITO's Let's Grow horticulture apprenticeship.

A driver's licence is essential and a licence with a forklift endorsement is useful.

Extra requirements for chemical spraying

If your job requires agrichemical spraying you need a certificate from approved providers such as Growsafe.  

Crop Farmer/Manager