13 July 2020
As we continue to meet the teams working across our specialist degree areas, Eva Schröer-Merker, Senior Lecturer in Farm Business Management and Course Tutor of the Business programme, shares how farm business management and agri-business have diverse and exciting opportunities for its students.
Specialising in farm management, farm economics, dairy and agricultural technology, Eva has worked in and with agriculture all her life, coming from a farming background and having worked on farms in five different countries on two continents. She commented: “Growing up on a farm, it was always clear to me that I wanted to work in the sector. I think agriculture, agri-business, and their related fields are great to work in as there is a wide range of job opportunities. I worked on farms in five different countries during and before my own agri-business studies. This included mixed farms in Germany, Switzerland and Iceland, as well as Merino farms in Australia and a dairy farm in New Zealand.”
Prior to her own studies, Eva’s work abroad included leading the ‘Farm Tools’ project for the Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management; heading up the International Farm Comparison Network’s Dairy Sector Analysis team at the Dairy Research Centre in Kiel, Germany; and working as a Senior Tutor in Farm & Agribusiness Management at Massey University, New Zealand.
Having experienced the industry firsthand, she is the perfect person to teach about the variety of inspirational opportunities out there for students. She said: “Agri-business is an exciting field, as it provides a lot of transferable skills, and thus gives graduates a lot of flexibility career wise.”
Eva is passionate about teaching and supporting students to achieve their goals within the agricultural industry. She explained: “Farm business management is really amazing, because it allows you to understand how different enterprises of a business are impacting each other, and contributing to overall business success.
“A friend recently asked me if it wasn’t a ‘dry’ topic, assuming it was all maths and finance. But this is not the case. Obviously, the maths and finances are crucial for the overall business – at the end of the day you want to make a profit and run a viable business. But farm business management is much more than just maths.
“I love teaching farm business management, since most of the assignments are based on case studies where students get to look at the whole picture to plan and assess the impact of changes. For example, if you are reducing inputs like fertilizer or sprays to save costs, what impact will this decision have on your yields, and ultimately income? Are there ways to mitigate the impact, like integrated crop management? If you decide to increase an enterprise within the business, like a specific crop or livestock, how will that impact your need for additional labour, machinery, etc.?”
Eva’s interested in the sector means she is pushing her own research, taking the latest information into the classroom to share with students. From carrying out projects on a range of topics, including smart ag technology, sharemilking, agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) and farmer learning, Eva’s research work also involves qualitative and quantitative work including focus groups and workshops, modelling, economic analysis and developing tools to drive communication and stakeholder engagement in the ag tech sector.
With so much knowledge and experience, Eva is a great example of how industry work contributes to a well rounded degree that matters, balancing theory with experience. Should you be interested in finding out more about our business suite of degrees, join us at our Virtual Open Day, July 22, to speak to staff and experience Harper Biz from home. Sign up now!