Agricultural Equipment Operator

Agriculture plays a critical role in South Africa’s economy. It is a key employer and provides food, fibre and fuel for domestic use and further production of goods and services. Agriculture is becoming increasingly mechanised to maximise production yield and keep pace with demand. Highly specialised equipment and machinery used in agricultural production requires competent and skilled operators.

Agricultural equipment operators drive and operate varied equipment and machinery used in agricultural production. They use equipment and machines to clear, cultivate and sow land. Some harvest and transport crops or assist in spraying crops with fertilizer and pesticides. They inspect tools and equipment to ensure safe and effective operation, basic maintenance and repairs.

Agricultural equipment operators spend majority of their time in farming fields and work long hours in peak seasons. They can also be exposed to dangerous chemical and equipment and are required to work in all types of weather conditions.

Skills

Agricultural equipment operators must have a strong understanding of how to operate and monitor heavy machinery. They need to have good physical stamina and strength, also benefitting from: 

  • Hand-eye coordination and simple decision making
  • Ability to troubleshoot machinery issues
  • Run basic repairs on operating machinery
  • Good driving ability

Tasks

Operate tractors, combines, irrigation and other farm equipment

Attach farm implements such as sprayers to harvesters or tractors

Monitor, repair, and service farm machinery when machines malfunction

Load hoppers, containers, or conveyors to feed machines with products, using forklifts, transfer augers, suction gates, shovels, or pitchforks

Studies

Agricultural equipment operators will benefit from a National Certificate in Plant Production or Mixed Farming Systems at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 5 offered at Ekurhuleni Agricultural College, OTAB, Peritum Agri Institute and Petra Institute of Development. However, most training will take place on the job with mentoring by experienced operators.

Employers

Commercial farming organisations.

Private farming operations. 

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