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Farm Worker - Crop Production

Lydia Schouten

Crop / Grain and Oilseed Farming Overview

The 'grain and oilseed' industry includes farm operations that produce a wide variety of crops, with wheat, canola, soybeans, and feed corn being the industry’s key products. Other industry products include pulses (such as lentils and dry peas), barley, oats, and fodder crops.

  • While the grain and oilseed industry’s strong growth outlook will require a bigger workforce to meet output targets, the domestic labour force is predicted to shrink, with retirement being one of the key factors affecting the labour supply.

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Similar to Labourers, Crop Farm Workers perform a wide variety of tasks that depend on the type of operation.

  • Typically, they work long days in the fields operating equipment - tractors, seeders, fertilizers, and harvesters.
  • Farm workers require minimal or no supervision; operate farm machinery and equipment; and acquire skills/knowledge through a combination of on-the-job training, formal training, and experience. Typically, farm workers need some secondary school education and up to two years of occupational training or farm experience.

Typical Job Titles

  • Combine Operator
  • Crop Combine Operator
  • Crop Equipment Operator
  • Crop Sprayer Operator
  • Farm Machinery Operator
  • Grain Cart Operator
  • Grain Farm Worker
  • Grain Production Worker
  • Harvester Machine Operator
  • Irrigation Worker
  • Seeder Operator
  • Swather Operator

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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

Crop Farm Workers operate equipment - tractors, seeders, fertilizers, and harvesters. Some time is also spent in sheds, barns, and shops. Although much of the work is mechanized, it can be physically demanding and may include some lifting and carrying.

Crop Farm Workers perform activities related to planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops.

  • Comply with legislation and regulations
  • Follow standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Maintain the health and safety of self and others
  • Comply with food safety and biosecurity policies and procedures
  • Follow environmentally sustainable work practices
  • Assist with the preparation of soil and sites for planting
  • Assist with the preparation of seed for planting
  • Assist with the fertilization of crops
  • Assist with crop planting
  • Assist with irrigation
  • Assist in monitoring crop development
  • Assist with crop harvesting
  • Assist with the storage of harvested crops
  • Assist with the transportation of crops
  • Transport farm equipment
  • Use equipment, tools and technology
  • Assist with equipment and facilities maintenance
  • Apply knowledge specific to crop production

What competencies are required for this job?

These competencies were identified as most important for successful job performance.

  • Agricultural Health and Safety
  • Environmentally Sustainable Work Practices
  • Crop Production
  • Adaptibility
  • Continuous Learning
  • Attention to Detail
  • Initiative
  • Teamwork

Some operations require that experienced workers have a high school diploma. It is beneficial to have an agricultural degree or diploma and computer experience (for accessing on line equipment manuals).

What attracts people to this job?

Workers are at the core of any farming operation – the people who actually do the work. They are also the people who are promoted to supervisory roles and/or trained to become technical specialists. People who work as Crop Farm Workers:

  • Learn how to operate crop farms from experienced crop farmers - a good training opportunity

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

In larger operations, Crop Farm Workers are often moved laterally – from one position to another within the same category. This lateral movement gives workers broader experience and prepares them for technical or supervisory roles.

  • Crop Farm Workers who apply themselves (and complete the necessary training) may eventually move up to supervisory or technical roles.

What are the typical pay rates and benefits for this job?

Depending on the operation and the region of Canada, pay for experienced full time crop workers ranges from $16 to $20 per hour. Benefits for full time workers can include:

  • Access to farm equipment for personal use.
  • Extended holidays during quiet times.