Grading is an important step in the processing of potato crops.

Potato grading operative

Potato grading operative

A potato grading operative helps grade the potato crop to ensure the farm produces a crop that meets the customer's requirements.
Also known as potato grader, potato sorter, potato packer, or potato farm worker.

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.

Grading is an important step in the processing of potato crops.

Once potatoes are lifted out of the soil by a harvesting machine, they are then moved to the grading area. Some farms grade potatoes again when they go into storage and once more when they are about to go out to customers at other times of the year.

Harvest is usually between July and October, but exact times depend on where you are in the country because of differences in weather and soil. 

As a potato grading operative, you’ll check the potatoes on the grading area conveyor belt. To ensure the potatoes sold meet customer quality standards, you’ll pick out any clods of soil, stones, stalks, and any damaged, cut, or rotten potatoes.  You might also need to use machines to help wash the potatoes and separate them into different sizes. 

Grading is an essential role in the potato business. If potatoes aren’t graded properly, customers could reject them, meaning the farm business loses money. 

You’ll work in a busy team, supervised by a team supervisor, farm manager, or owner. Depending on the size of the farm, you might also be asked to do other jobs at different times of the year. 

Your working hours will depend on the size and type of farm and the season. You might also need to take on some overtime and work on weekends during busy periods. 

Full-time, part-time, and casual opportunities are available.  

You may need your own transport to get to work.  

As a potato grading operative, your responsibilities might include: 

  • Knowing about and spotting different types of crop 
  • Using farm machinery safely 
  • Spotting and removing damaged potatoes, pests and diseases 
  • Working to meet production targets 
  • Following the farm’s health and safety rules 
  • Making sure you follow procedures and best practice to produce potatoes efficiently 

To work as a potato grading operative, you should:

  • Enjoy working with others, but also be able to work independently 
  • Be able to work quickly, calmly, and with confidence 
  • Be reliable and hardworking 
  • Have good attention to detail 
  • Be good at organising and planning your time 
  • Have a responsible attitude, especially in matters of health and safety 
  • Be flexible when asked to carry out different jobs 

You don't need a formal qualification to become a potato grading operative. However,  you must be interested in farming, be flexible in your approach to work, and be keen to learn. 

You can also gain experience by volunteering on a farm or smallholding.  

If you live in a city or urban area, you could volunteer on a local city farm, community garden, or allotment. You can find some of these in your area on the Social Farms and Gardens website

There are also apprenticeships available, where you can learn and earn at the same time.  

As a potato grading operative, you’ll have competencies in relation to grading potatoes to meet industry and customer standards. You will:  

  • Follow relevant health and safety standards, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) 
  • Follow farm procedures to meet targets and quality standards 
  • Follow farm procedures for potato washing for better productivity 
  • Grade potatoes properly before they are stored  
  • Work well within your team 
  • Use appropriate technology, machinery, and equipment safely 

Salaries are in the region of £9.50 to £14 an hour, depending on experience and location. You might be asked to work overtime during busy periods. 

As a potato grading operative, you may choose to develop your career further by exploring other areas of horticulture or arable work. For example, you could move into protected planting or work with other types of crops.  

When you’ve gained experience and qualifications, you could move to a supervisor role, such as an assistant farm manager or a production technician. 

Courses which can help you on this career path include:

City & Guilds Level 1 Diploma in Land-based Studies Agriculture  

City & Guilds Level 2 Technical Certificate in Agriculture  

City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate in Agriculture  


General Farm Worker Level 2 

Crop Technician Level 3 

TIAH Essential Skills

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

Anyone considering working as a potato grading operative 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.