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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Agricultural Representatives, Consultants and Specialists(2123)

Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists provide assistance and advice to farmers on all aspects of farm management, cultivation, fertilization, harvesting, soil erosion and composition, disease prevention, nutrition, crop rotation and marketing. They are employed by businesses, institutions and governments that assist the farming community or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read notes and e-mail messages from clients, co-workers and members of the general public. For example, they read livestock and crop producers' suggestions for upcoming workshops. Agricultural representatives read e-mail messages from crop producers about organic fertilizers and associated costs. Agricultural consultants read co-workers' messages about water test results. (1)
  • Read descriptions of products and services in catalogues and brochures. For example, they read notices of upcoming conferences and descriptions of workshop sessions. Agricultural representatives read seed catalogue descriptions to identify plants which may grow well in their geographic areas. (1)
  • Read memos and letters. For example, agricultural representatives read pest alert advisories from provincial departments of agriculture. Agricultural specialists read memos which outline policy changes and describe upcoming events in their organizations. They read letters from producers and growers who are seeking advice on matters such as environmentally sustainable farming practices. (2)
  • Read bulletins, newsletters and magazines. For example, they read bulletins from regulatory agencies which outline new programs and official statements on topics such as pest control and hazardous products. Livestock consultants and specialists read newsletters from industry associations to learn about programs to manage crises such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSF) outbreaks. Livestock representatives read farming and ranching magazines such as Ontario Farmer to learn about unique tattoos which allow cattle to be identified and traced. Crop and seed consultants read magazines such as Alberta's Seed Guide to understand crop growers' concerns and to learn about new products, farming techniques and upcoming events. (3)
  • Read manuals. For example, agricultural specialists read product manuals to learn more about topics such as cross-pollination and recommended planting procedures. Livestock specialists read policy and procedure manuals which outline procedures for importing and exporting livestock. Crop consultants read manuals which outline details of government assistance programs for agricultural businesses. (3)
  • Read research, operating and annual business reports. For example, livestock specialists read marketing reports to identify trends, track markets and learn about new developments in agriculture. They read research reports on topics such as genetic evaluation of bulls. Agricultural specialists read reports from co-workers on topics such as weed control. Agricultural specialists and representatives read their organizations' annual reports to understand directions and priorities for coming years. (3)
  • Read academic and professional journals. For example, agricultural consultants and specialists read journals such as Canadian Journal of Animal Science and Leading Edge: the Journal of No-Till Agriculture to remain knowledgeable about new farming and animal husbandry practices. (4)
  • May read Acts and regulations. For example, farm management consultants may read the Livestock, Poultry and Honey Bee Protection Act, Regulations and Interpretation Guidelines to learn about processes such as valuing and reporting livestock injured by predators. Crop specialists may read regulations to understand the processes which must be used by farmers who wish to have crops certified as organic. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Locate data in lists. For example, they scan lists to locate the titles of fact sheets and the addresses of frequently referenced websites. Agricultural representatives review lists of customers to identify crop growers who can be approached for trials of new products. (1)
  • Locate data on product and equipment labels. For example, agricultural representatives scan the labels on animal feed products to locate ingredients, best before dates and directions for use. They scan Workplace Hazardous Material Information System labels on pesticides to identify requirements for personal protective equipment. (2)
  • Enter data into schedules and tables. For example, livestock consultants record data such as numbers of cows and calves by province and selling prices by carcass weights into annual market projection spreadsheets. Agricultural consultants and specialists enter dates and actions to be taken into timelines. They enter hours spent on projects into schedules. Agricultural representatives enter test descriptors and field data into tables. (2)
  • Locate data in forms. For example, crop consultants and specialists identify germination rates and pesticide quantities in farm test result forms. Agricultural specialists scan survey forms for data on topics such as types of agricultural production, farm sizes, numbers of employees and assessed land values. They identify types and numbers of chemical spills and livestock injuries and deaths due to predation on incident report forms. (2)
  • Complete entry forms. For example, they complete travel expense forms and enter crop and livestock producers' contact information into database forms. Agricultural representatives enter product codes and quantities into order forms. They complete non-performance forms when products fail and brokerage forms when importing seedlings from other countries. Specialists and consultants may complete grant applications for special projects. (2)
  • Interpret flow charts and schematics. For example, agricultural consultants interpret flow charts which illustrate the steps required to become a certified organic grower. Crop specialists review schematics which show the flow of grain from farmers' fields, through pooling, cross-country transportation and export to other countries. (2)
  • Locate data in graphs. For example, agricultural consultants view pie charts which display types and quantities of crops and livestock by region. Crop specialists interpret graphs showing water quality survey results and production quantities for different varieties of vegetable and grain crops. They may review population growth in designated regions to understand agricultural land requirements. Agricultural representatives analyze trends on graphs of variations in weed and pest numbers following applications of herbicides. (3)
  • Locate data in scaled drawings. For example, agricultural specialists and representatives locate farms and other features on land use maps. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write reminders, notes to co-workers and clients and short text entries in forms. For example, they record their impressions, thoughts and ideas in daybooks when visiting farms. They update farmers' records by entering dates and types of services provided in logbooks. (2)
  • Write e-mail to co-workers and colleagues. For example, agricultural specialists and consultants write e-mail to co-workers and colleagues to inform them of research they have completed on topics such as the performance of various organic fertilizers. (2)
  • May write memos and letters. For example, agricultural specialists and consultants may write memos to notify co-workers and colleagues about upcoming meetings and workshops. Agricultural consultants may write letters to farmers about matters such as weeds migrating to public property. Agricultural representatives may write letters to local residents informing them of upcoming weed control seminars. (2)
  • Write fact sheets and overviews on topics of interest to farmers. For example, crop specialists and consultants may write summaries of scientific research for distribution at public meetings. Livestock specialists may write fact sheets for seminars on the identification and prevention of animal diseases. (3)
  • Write operating, technical and research reports. For example, livestock consultants and specialists may write technical reports on topics such as the effects and controls of Bertha Armyworm infestations in pasture lands. Agricultural consultants prepare market reports which forecast market conditions for different commodities. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Calculate reimbursement claims for travel and other expenses. For example, they complete travel reimbursement claims using per kilometre and per diem rates. They add amounts for incidental expenses. (2)
  • Calculate invoice amounts. For example, agricultural consultants and specialists may verify and authorize payments of caterers' invoices. Self-employed consultants calculate professional fees using hourly and per diem rates. They add amounts for expenses and calculate applicable taxes. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Monitor budgets for small projects and programs. For example, agricultural specialists monitor expenditures for items such as soil and water testing products, meeting room rentals and conference registration fees. (2)
  • Create and monitor work schedules and project timelines. For example, agricultural representatives create schedules for workers who complete tasks such as weed and pest control. Agricultural consultants and specialists schedule appointments for meetings with producers and growers in their areas. They create timelines for projects such as the development of training materials. (3)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Take measurements using common measuring tools. For example, crop specialists measure lengths and widths of test plots and heights of weed growth using rulers and tapes. (1)
Data Analysis Math
  • Collect and analyze data on agricultural production and markets for agricultural products. For example, agricultural consultants and representatives collect and analyze data on markets for grains and oilseeds. Agricultural consultants analyze the productivity and efficiency of farming and ranching operations. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate time. For example, crop specialists and agricultural representatives estimate times required for trials of new products. (2)
  • Estimate distances, areas and the dimensions fields. For example, crop specialists estimate the areas of fields which are used for trials of new varieties of vegetables and other crops. (2)
  • Estimate future prices for crops and livestock. For example, agricultural consultants and specialists estimate future prices for commodities such as beef and oilseed. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Discuss products such as harvesting equipment and feed supplements with manufacturers' representatives and suppliers. For example, crop consultants and specialists speak to workers at farm supply centres and grain elevators to determine the benefits of different brands and formulations of herbicides. Livestock consultants and specialists advise equipment manufacturers on topics such as alternate designs to make sheep pens more effective and safer. (2)
  • Exchange information with their co-workers on a variety of matters. For example, they ask their supervisors about programs which are suitable for their clients. They inform their supervisors of current production and market conditions in their regions and respond to questions. Crop consultants and specialists discuss their observations about growing conditions and weather patterns with farmers. Livestock consultants and specialists discuss government programs and animal feed products with their co-workers. Agricultural representatives inform maintenance crew managers of the types of weeds and amounts of herbicides to be used when spraying specific crops. (2)
  • Discuss the technical aspects of their work with colleagues. For example, agricultural consultants seek colleagues' perspectives and opinions before writing policy directives and updating procedure manuals. They ask colleagues for their observations on the prevalence, spread and prevention of diseases in their regions. (3)
  • Inform and advise farmers on a wide range of technical, environmental and financial matters related to crop and livestock production. For example, agricultural consultants and specialists discuss field operations, new funding programs and benefits of environmentally sustainable practices with farmers. They clarify farmers' concerns and provide explanations of recommended solutions for pest and weed control. Agricultural representatives introduce new products to farmers and retailers and describe product uses and performance levels. (3)
  • May facilitate public meetings. For example, livestock consultants and specialists provide producers with updates on trends in their industries and offer their perspectives on these trends. They may facilitate discussions on ways to persuade regulators in other countries to import their products. They may lead seminars and workshops on topics such as cattle identification and age verification. Crop consultants and specialists deliver presentations on environmentally sustainable agricultural practices such as minimum tillage. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Cannot complete planned tasks due to time constraints. For example, agricultural consultants and representatives may be unable to attend scheduled meetings with livestock and crop farmers because of unexpected emergencies. They apologize to the farmers and schedule alternate meeting times. When agricultural consultants and specialists are unable to prepare funding proposals in a timely manner they may request permission to contract out proposal writing tasks. (1)
  • Encounter inadequate facilities, absent presenters and equipment malfunctions when offering seminars and workshops. For example, when reserved meeting rooms are too small for audiences, they schedule additional sessions to accommodate the overflow participants. When invited speakers cancel on short notice, they attempt to locate alternate guest speakers, reschedule speakers and present the information themselves. When electronic equipment such as computers and conference telephone connections fail, they use replacement computers and ask colleagues at the remote locations to present the information using previously distributed learning materials. (2)
Decision Making
  • Select methods for advising and informing farmers. They consider the times available and the complexity and urgency of concerns to be addressed. They may choose among advising farmers by telephone, visiting the farmers in person and holding information sessions and seminars. (2)
  • Choose the timing, topics and speakers to invite for seminars and workshops. They consider the emerging interests of producers, types of farming and ranching in their regions and other competing events farmers may wish to attend. They determine speakers' availabilities and areas of expertise. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the performance and productivity of farming and ranching operations. For example, livestock consultants and specialists review financial reports, production statistics and market performance data when advising cattle producers. They consider the sizes of grazing areas and the numbers of animals that pastures will support. They may make recommendations for changes in breeds of livestock, crops, farming practices and marketing approaches. (2)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural products and farming practices. For example, agricultural representatives consider the benefits and limitations of particular herbicide products. They consider the ease of application procedures, subsequent uses of treated fields and returns on investments. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists are responsible for planning and organizing their tasks to meet the goals of their organizations and the needs of farmers and ranchers. They make decisions about task priorities and coordinate their schedules with industry colleagues and agricultural producers. They adjust their schedules to accommodate time demands resulting of random telephone calls and unscheduled meetings. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists may plan and coordinate the work of co-op and summer students, volunteers and employees hired to complete specific projects such as surveys of farmers and preparation of seedlings for trials. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the procedures to be followed to access government funding.
Finding Information
  • Find information about crop and livestock diseases, herbicides, farming practices and equipment. They search Internet websites, review textbooks and government publications and speak to co-workers, colleagues and producers. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use word processing. For example, they use word processing software to prepare letters, memos and fact sheets. They insert tables and pictures and format larger documents for printing. (2)
  • May use graphic software. For example, they may create slide shows using presentation software such as PowerPoint. They may insert tables, photographs and video clips into these presentations. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, district representatives and agricultural consultants may enter and retrieve farmers' and land location files from their organizations' databases. They may enter notes about services provided to farmers and livestock producers. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create spreadsheets and enter data for proposed budgets. They may create graphs to display data such as sales projections. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mail and attached files with co-workers. They may send messages to farmers and ranchers to confirm meetings. They may attach promotional flyers and industry reports. (2)
  • Use Internet. For example, they search for information about diseases such as avian influenza and pests such as grasshoppers. They may search the Internet for background information on experts they are considering for workshops and other events. They visit government sites to access information on programs and regulations. They may access databases and complete data collection forms using their organizations' intranet. (2)
  • May use other software. For example, livestock consultants may use industry-specific software to balance cattle feed rations and predict trends in livestock prices. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists work independently when carrying out tasks such as meeting producers, writing reports and completing forms. They may coordinate and integrate job tasks with co-workers and agricultural specialists when implementing new programs. (3)

Continuous Learning

Agricultural representatives, consultants and specialists direct their own learning in response to changes and new developments in their areas of expertise. They learn through their day-to-day activities and interactions with co-workers, colleagues and agricultural producers. (3)

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