Spring 2024

How Agrii trains the agronomists of the future

A decade ago, the agronomy industry was facing a staffing crisis. The average age of an agronomist was creeping ever higher; many were approaching retirement, and few young people were entering the industry. This has been turned around thanks to the efforts of companies like Agrii, who have invested in attracting and training talented young men and women into the profession.

Agrii’s training programme is called iq and is credited with training 60 new agronomists between 2016 and 2023. The programme is broken down into sections to teach trainees the technical knowledge they will need alongside core business and interpersonal skills to help them throughout their careers.

Agrii development agronomist Miles Doncaster completed the iq programme last year. Although his father is an agronomist, Miles wasn’t sure he wanted to do agronomy. However, he took advantage of an opportunity to work for Agrii on a short-term basis in the summer while at university. This made him realise that a career in agronomy was something he wanted to pursue once he graduated.

“I have always been interested in the business and how it operates,” says Miles. “I studied business studies and management at the University of Leeds, but much of what I learned is still relevant as a development agronomist. There is the relationship aspect of the role, and working for a company like Agrii gives you an insight into how a big business operates.

“I enjoy being someone a grower can rely on for information. If you are the agronomist, there is mutual respect. The agronomist respects a farmer’s tremendous job, and they know that you can provide value to their business.

“Every day is so unique. I also love the freedom of planning my day; I choose when I start and finish based on the work I must do. There are times throughout the season when I am on a beautiful farm, and it is a sunny evening when I cannot believe this is my job.”

Miles began his BASIS course shortly after starting with Agrii, with the iq programme sessions running concurrently with the training. Initially, this helped him fill in some of the basics he needed to gain without having the background of an agriculture-related degree. As the programme progressed, it built his knowledge beyond what was required to pass the BASIS exam to equip him with the skills needed to be an agronomist.

“Without iq, I would have struggled to manage all the information I had to learn for BASIS. It also created a strong group of people at a similar stage in their careers at Agrii, which I could use for support. I have found that my Agrii colleagues will always find time to help me, whether by letting me shadow them as they walk their client’s fields or by helping me build a picture of the farms in my area.

“Now I have completed the iq programme, I hope to build my client portfolio and become an expert in some specific areas of agronomy. To help me with this, I plan to study BASIS advanced potatoes and soil and water,” adds Miles.

Crop Input Specialist Ian Roe and Trainee Agronomist Christina Dutton have teamed up to ignite agricultural interest among Year 2 and Year 4 students in the South West. From seed to shelf, they have delved into the journey of our food, discussed environmental stewardship, and explored diverse careers in agriculture.

  1. Seed to Shelf: interactive workshop revealing the journal from seed to the products we find in stores like Shreddies and porridge.
  2. Milk Math: using bottles to showcase the daily production of an average cow.
  3. Potato Power: led discussions on potatoes and engaged in a maths-based game to explore the growing cycle and end-use.

Closing the knowledge gap between growers and consumers is vital. Research shows farm visits double the chance of considering an ag career, but only 29% of schools have this opportunity, so we decided to take the farm to the school.

For more information on Agrii’s iq programme, please contact Sara Searle:, 01480 418033.