Could AI Affect Your Ag Job and Career?

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Business Process

In the 12 months since OpenAI turned the business world on its head with the release of ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) became the new tech boogieman to many industries. Agriculture is no exception, with AI forcing a conversation about what employers expect from employees.

We spoke with Rex Lawrence, president of Joe Produce, a recruitment firm focused on agriculture and produce careers, about how technology is influencing employer expectations, and how job candidates can use artificial intelligence to improve their chance of getting hired.

How job seekers can advance their tech knowledge

Even in positions where tech isn’t necessarily a norm or requisite to a specific role, Rex noted that employers today want their team to have a “comfort level” and an openness to using technology.

“Take Sales, for instance. Salespeople need to be able to deal with their ERPs,” Rex shared. “But more companies are introducing business intelligence, so salespeople need to be able to run reports, query the BI, and engage and work with those who manage reporting technology.”

He said the same about “prompt engineering,” the skill of generating input queries to language models like ChatGPT to get responses that are acurate and relevant to a business’ needs. Rex advised that a basic understanding of how to write a prompt is fast becoming a baseline requirement for all backoffice workers.

How technology can be an employee’s competitive advantage

Everyone in Ag knows that technology is everywhere, from the field to packing line to shipping. It helps farmers, growers, and ranchers determine when to plant or where to graze cattle. It helps determine how much water to use and when to harvest.

Rex gave an example of a 10,000-acre farming operation looking for an assistant farm manager. While the owners wanted to hire someone with a farming background, they also needed a manager comfortable with technology, and with the personal drive to utilize tech to help the business run more efficiently.

“There are so many links in the produce supply chain. And so many opportunities for things to go wrong in this business,” Rex added. “This isn’t a high-margin industry. Anywhere you can squeak out a point or two over margin could be the difference between being in the black or red.”

It’s for these reasons (among others) that Rex sees a growing need for tech-savvy candidates who understand how technology can be a competitive advantage for their employer. A high comfort level with technology can be a candidate’s competitive advantage too.

Will artificial intelligence replace people?

The common thread in all industries is that your job will probably not be replaced by artificial intelligence. But you will be replaced by somebody who knows how to use AI.

“People who refuse to accept technology (change) and utilize it are the only people in jeopardy,” Rex disclosed. “But if you can embrace and utilize it, you’ll succeed.”

We will leave you with a final thought. Workflow automation paired with AI is more likely to change how we work than AI like ChatGPT. We already see companies merging workflow automation and AI to get “more done with less.” If this is interesting to you, our team of data and software services professionals can help you navigate this emerging development. Contact us to discuss how.

Listen to the Podcast

For more insights and commentary, listen to our conversation with Rex in the player above or on this link.

We launched an informative and entertaining 12-episode podcast series talking all things ag tech, from new tech applied to organic fruit to cybersecurity, AI, robotics, and everything in between. We will be joined each episode by a respected thought leader in the industry to share their knowledge and learnings with all of us. Join us as we uncover how technology reshapes the agricultural landscape and drives farming practices.

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