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Get to know James Hope: Arable Agronomist

James Hope is an arable agronomist working for Hutchinsons and is based in Penrith. We spoke to him about his journey within agronomy ...

What did you do before joining Hutchinsons?

When I left school I wanted to be a gamekeeper so I did an apprenticeship in gamekeeping then ended up working for an estate for ten years and becoming a farm manager. My family wasn’t from farming and my dad’s a lorry driver but I was interested in shooting and being in the countryside so gamekeeping was my focus and then it progressed from there. I have always been interested in arable farming and producing healthy crops. So I started looking into a career and that’s how I got involved with Hutchinsons.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in agronomy?

I have always had an interest in farming and am fascinated to know what goes on behind the scenes but felt that an on farm role wasn’t for me long term. I was really attracted to an advisory role where I would have exposure to lots of different farms and find it hugely satisfying to see a healthy crop at the end of the season.

If you could go back in time, what advice you would give yourself on your first day?

Get out as much as possible with other agronomists. It’s so beneficial to see how other people work and understand their individual points of view, whether that be agronomically, how they run their days or how they work with their customers. Getting out and seeing things in the field is so important, for example when studying towards your BASIS qualification, its very different identifying a weed that’s lab grown and in a container to identifying out in a field!

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in agronomy?

Don’t underestimate the need to be a people person who enjoys speaking with people, building good relationships where you really get to know people and understand their needs. Sometimes you see agronomists out on their own in the field and it’s easy to think that the role is like that all the time, but you really need to get to know your customers and build up trust by spending time together.  

What’s the most important thing you have learnt since joining Hutchinsons?

The importance of team work. There are vast amounts of experience and knowledge in the business from people in various roles and they are all happy to help you and share what they know. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to your colleagues, there are experts everywhere and if you haven’t seen something before, someone else will have and they will be happy to help you. Also, your depot colleagues have amazing knowledge of the local areas and the customers, they are great people to talk to.

What do you think makes a successful agronomist?

The ability to be able to deal with challenging situations and different personalities, flexible and happy to move with whatever is thrown at you. You need to be able to deal with changing levels of workload – ready to go in the busy season and motivated to get tasks moving when things are quieter!

What’s the most challenging part of the role?

The first time going down a farm drive. A key part of the role is getting yourself known in the area to potential new customers, and part of that involves going down farm drives, looking to build new relationships. Making those introductory visits can be daunting, it does get easier but you have to make sure you are a motivated person to make them happen and not talk yourself out of it!

What do you love most about being an agronomist?

The freedom. You have great support when you need it but also the flexibility to plan your own days and work in the right way to help you achieve your own individual aims and ambitions.

 

Would you like to start your career in agronomy?

Then apply to the most professional and comprehensive training programme for new agronomists within the UK – The Hutchinsons Foundation.

Employed as a New Entrant Agronomist at Hutchinsons, you’ll pursue professional qualifications whilst learning from a diverse pool of mentors and trainers. This role offers a platform to nurture not just technical expertise but also the interpersonal skills vital for a thriving career in agronomy.

Start your future with us today.

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