Harvest operations manager checking over his combine.

Harvest operations manager

Harvest operations manager

A harvest operations manager is responsible for harvesting and storing crops. They also help run a sustainable farm business that meets high environmental standards.
Also known as operations manager, harvest manager, agricultural manager or arable manager.

This profile highlights the skills and knowledge associated with the role. However, jobs will have varying responsibilities depending on level of the role and the size or type of the business.

Harvest operations manager checking over his combine.

As a harvest operations manager, you can work on a range of farms that produce crops for human food, animal feed, or energy production. These crops will be grown outdoors or in protected environments like glass houses. 

Farms can grow combinable crops, horticultural crops, or a mix of both. Combinable means those that are harvested with a combine harvester. They include barley, oats, wheat, and oilseed rape. Horticultural crops include vegetables, salad crops, ​​mushrooms, root crops, herbs, and fruits. 

You'll usually work closely with the growing/crop manager. You’ll be responsible for managing the harvest successfully and storing the harvested crops safely. 

You’ll also be responsible for managing the daily harvest plan and crop storage. This plan ensures crops are harvested at the right time to meet customer requirements and reduce losses.  

You may also need to recruit and train the harvest team and make sure staff always follow health and safety rules.  

You'll need to be able to use a range of farm technology, equipment, and machinery safely. 

As a harvest operations manager, you'll need a flexible approach to work. You may need to work weekends and overtime, especially during busy periods. 

You may need to have your own transport to get to work.  

As harvest operations manager your responsibilities might include: 

  • Working with the growing/crop manager to manage crop production 
  • Planning and overseeing harvest to make sure the farm achieves its production and financial targets 
  • Storing crops in a way that meets safety and customer standards 
  • Recruiting, training, and managing harvest employees 
  • Overseeing health and safety for harvest employees  
  • Making sure all buildings, equipment, and machinery are in good working order and meet safety regulations 
  • Producing crop quality and quantity forecasts 
  • Identifying and monitoring crop losses  
  • Making sure records are correct and up to date 
  • Monitoring the performance of the harvest team and use this information to set targets 
  • Managing relationships with external contractors, suppliers, and consultants 
  • Monitoring and reducing the farm’s impact on the environment by promoting sustainable practices and biodiversity 
  • Overseeing farm finances, including purchases and other expenses​​ 
  • Helping the farm continue to improve and become more efficient 
  • Monitoring and reducing the risk of pollutants  
  • Managing the sales and marketing of crops 

To work as a harvest operations manager, you should:

  • Have excellent planning and organisational skills 
  • Be able to motivate and manage others and lead by example 
  • Have strong communication and delegation skills 
  • ​​​Have a good level of resilience 
  • Have strong decision-making and problem-solving skills 
  • Be able to deal with changes  
  • Be able to suggest ideas to improve the business 

As a harvest operations manager, you’ll need good practical experience working in an arable or horticulture business. 

You might have started your career as a harvest worker or crop production operative and developed your skills and knowledge over time. 

Ideally, you'll have experience in mentoring, supervising, or managing less experienced staff. You'll also be keen to take on more responsibility.  

You don't necessarily require a specific or formal qualification to become a harvest manager. However, a qualification may increase your options. You might want to consider a technical qualification in agriculture or horticulture, or a degree in farm management. 

This role would suit someone enthusiastic and with excellent leadership and planning skills.  

As a harvest operations manager, you'll have the following competencies in relation to overseeing crop harvest and storage. You will:  

  • Manage technical operations to make sure land is used in a way that’s good for business and has minimum impact on the environment 
  • Make sure harvest and post-harvest technology, machinery, vehicles, and structures are used correctly   
  • Plan harvest operations  
  • Make sure harvest operations are financially sustainable 
  • Oversee the quality of the harvest  
  • Make sure employees meet health and safety requirements 
  • Make sure the farm recruits and trains harvest employees 
  • Work with the crop production manager to ensure crops are of a high quality 
  • Make sure crops are harvested and stored correctly 
  • Make sure soil is managed during harvest so the business and farm environment is as sustainable as possible 

Salaries are in the region of £30,000​​ to £75,000 but will vary depending on location and experience. ​​The higher end of the salary scale depends on the breadth of your role, specialisms, and company size. 

As a harvest operations manager, there are opportunities for you to progress or develop your career by expanding the number of crops you work with, gaining promotion to other management roles, or by becoming a professional adviser in related areas, such as health and safety. 

Courses which can help you on this career path include:

Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate in Agriculture [dropdown - links to providers] 

FdSc Agriculture and Farm Management  

BSc Agriculture with Crop Management 

BSc Applied Farm Management  

BSc Agriculture  

BSc Agri-Business  


Crop Technician Level 3 

Assistant Farm Manager Level 4 

TIAH Essential Skills

Our online Essential Skills modules can help you develop your skills and knowledge in a range of areas and are a great addition to your CV.

Anyone considering working as a harvest operations manager would find our BiosecurityCoaching for Staff Retention, and Foundations in Farm Safety courses helpful.

You can find out more about life as a harvest operations manager by listening to Ben Eagle's Meet the Farmers podcast, episode 186.

Return to our job profiles page for more exciting roles in farming and growing.