The power of a STEM background for agriculture leaders

In modern agriculture, the intersection of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is playing an increasingly vital role as organizations adopt new and exciting agricultural technologies.

Common agribusiness leadership roles haven’t historically required a STEM background. But as these roles and businesses evolve, many entail sophisticated reporting, tech strategy and overall digital transformation, which STEM-proficient leaders are highly equipped to oversee.

In this article, we’ll explore why a STEM background, even in K-12 education, is an asset for aspiring leaders in agriculture.

But first, what is STEM education?

STEM encompasses a broad range of disciplines focused on problem-solving, critical thinking and innovation. From biology and chemistry to computer science and engineering, individuals with a foundation in STEM are equipped with the skills necessary to tackle complex challenges and adapt to technological advancements.

The United States partners with a variety of organizations to invest in these disciplines at the K-12 level, with the goal of inspiring young students to pursue careers in a relevant area.

The U.S. Department of Education also partners with private organizations and government agencies to offer extracurricular programs that help expose students directly to scientific initiatives and careers.

How STEM is valued in agriculture:

One of the key advantages candidates with a STEM background receive is industry mobility.

Individuals with expertise in STEM disciplines have the flexibility to excel in a specific functional area that can be applied across relevant industries. For example, a data analyst working for a technology company can likely be hired by an agricultural company to perform similar data-related tasks.

Related: Is your background in data analytics? Consider a career in agribusiness.

Why STEM skills are needed in agriculture:

Global food demand is growing rapidly, which means agriculture organizations are pursuing new technologies to increase yields and improve their bottom lines. These technologies can include anything from drone surveillance for crops to internal data systems to crop-protection chemicals.

Increasingly, organizations are interested in hiring senior-level executives to oversee the adoption of these products. In fact, it’s not uncommon for candidates with a scientific background to be valued at the most senior level in agriculture companies – even as CEOs.

Related: Scientists are occupying senior-level roles in AgTech. Here’s why

By fully leveraging these technically minded individuals in senior roles, agricultural enterprises can make more informed decisions, improve operational efficiency and stay ahead of the competition.

Looking ahead:

We expect the demand for STEM talent in agriculture to grow in the coming years. As this industry embraces digitalization, AI and automation, there will be a greater need for skilled professionals who can leverage emerging technologies that drive innovation and sustainable growth.

Many agriculture organizations are planning for this reality by investing in STEM education programs in their local schools and universities, with the goal of cultivating a pipeline of talent equipped to address the challenges of tomorrow.

The takeaway:

For anyone interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, current hiring initiatives prove that a STEM background, even if it’s not earned directly in the context of agriculture or food production, can increase your competitiveness later down the road.

In this dynamic environment, staying ahead requires a commitment to innovation and continuous learning by both individuals and organizations interested in rising to the challenges of the future.

To learn more, contact Eric Spell at (336) 217-9116 or