Irrigation assistants play a key role in keeping crops healthy.

Irrigation assistant

Irrigation assistant

The irrigation assistant is responsible for ensuring all crops/plants on the site are adequately watered, and all the associated equipment is correctly maintained.
Also known as a horticultural assistant, glasshouse worker, technician, or irrigation operative.

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.

Irrigation assistants play a key role in keeping crops healthy.

Irrigation assistant is a variable and rewarding role. A successful irrigation assistant will be able to respond to changing weather conditions to ensure their crops and/or plants are appropriately irrigated for a successful harvest. 

An irrigation assistant is a role where you will most likely be working in an outdoor, soil-based system but sometimes could be indoors working on container-based systems. You will also have a working knowledge of the different species of crop or plant on your site, their general care requirements, and their stages of growth to tailor watering to their needs. 

You don't need specific experience for this role, but you'll need to be confident in handling large-scale irrigation equipment and vehicles. You'll also need to be able to perform basic maintenance of this equipment during the off-season and be flexible enough to complete other farm/site maintenance work throughout the year. 

As part of your role, you may be required to become proficient in using irrigation-based technology and data recording software packages. You'll need to have a practical, hands-on approach and be able to complete tasks with very little supervision. This will help the farm run a productive and sustainable business.   

The role of irrigation assistant can be quite physically demanding, so some degree of physical fitness will be required. Due to the nature of the large, mechanised equipment involved, you'll also need to become aware of the health and safety risks associated with their use. In addition, during periods of unfavourable weather during critical times for plant/crop growth, you'll also need to be open to working overtime, including shifts and weekends, to ensure crop growth is not affected and harvesting is a success.  

You may need to have your own transport to get to work and should have a clean full driving licence. 

As an irrigation assistant, your responsibilities might include:  

  • Meeting high environmental and ​​biosecurity standards  
  • Responding correctly and dynamically to weather conditions to ensure correct levels of irrigation 
  • Safe use and handling of large technical equipment and vehicles 
  • Carrying out maintenance of irrigation equipment and the farm site 
  • Working with a team to ensure the farm meets its production targets   
  • Helping the manager satisfy farm assurance schemes by meeting industry standards   
  • Completing tasks given to you by your manager 
  • Working safely and making sure all staff, visitors, and contractors work safely, too  
  • Reporting breakdowns or incidents to the farm manager  
  • Keeping​​ accurate records and reporting details to the farm manager or head office  

To work as an irrigation assistant, you should:

  • Act responsibly to achieve high standards  
  • Be resilient and flexible to changing work and industry requirements  
  • Be able to communicate and listen well to others  
  • Be able to follow instructions for relevant tasks  
  • Be able to use initiative and know when to seek help  
  • Enjoy working on different tasks  
  • Be highly motivated and keen to develop skills and knowledge

As an irrigation assistant, you won't require any specific previous experience, although any relevant experience may affect the level of salary offered.

You should be confident handling large-scale irrigation equipment and driving large vehicles on fields and public highways. 

You should also be able to problem solve as conditions/circumstances change and have sound time-management skills. 

As an irrigation assistant, you’ll have competencies that ensure all crops/plants on the site are adequately watered, and all the associated equipment is correctly maintained. 

You will: 

  • Work to maximise productivity and plant health 
  • Assist with the planning of crop production 
  • Meet relevant health and safety standards 
  • Ensure water is used efficiently 

As a guide, an irrigation assistant earns £15,000 to £32,000. The figure depends on factors such as level of overtime, level of experience, location, and nature of the business.  

As an irrigation assistant, you could progress your career in a number of ways. 

There are other on-farm roles that you could explore, such as farm worker, sprayer operator, crop technician, or vegetable/plant (trials) technician.  

You may also wish to train further and work towards a more advanced career, such as an assistant manager or agronomist. This may require further study, such as FACTS training, which helps achieve a high standard of soil and crop nutrient advice at a consultancy level. 

Courses which can help you on this career path include:

Previous experience or qualifications in horticulture, gardening, or farming would be useful, though not essential. 

Foundation Level 1 Land-Based Diploma  

Level 2 Diploma in Land and Environment  

Level 1 Practical Horticulture  

Level 2 Technical Qualifications in Horticulture  

RHS Level 2 Practical Certificate in Horticulture (part-time)  


Crop Technician Level 3 

Assistant Farm Manager Level 4 

Agriculture or Horticulture Professional Advisor Level 6 

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 an irrigation assistant would find our Biosecurity and Foundations in Farm Safety courses helpful.

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