The Desert Farming Initiative at the University of Nevada, Reno seeks to fill a full-time Faculty position as the Farm Production Manager. This position will be an integral component of the University of Nevada, Reno, the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The Farm Production Manager (FPM) will directly report to, and work closely with the Program Manager. The position will oversee, manage, coordinate, and execute the production and harvest of all vegetable and fruit crop operations at two field station sites for the UNR Desert Farming Initiative. The incumbent will be responsible for organizing and managing all farm employees, including the Assistant Farm Manager, farm employees, student employees, interns, and volunteers. Working closely with the Program Manager, the Farm Production Manager will develop crop plans, implement a pest management plan, soil fertility and crop nutrition plan, and research and order agricultural products as needed. The incumbent will install, develop, and maintain drip and overhead irrigation infrastructure, and is responsible for executing all crop irrigation requirements. The incumbent executes all tractor work with precision; oversees and insures the proper management of all tractor equipment; and may be required to research new and innovated precision row crop equipment for demonstration. In addition, the incumbent will work closely with the DFI Education Program Coordinator, and Program Manager to implement and execute the farm’s Food Safety plan, Good Agricultural Practice certification, and greenhouse organic certification. The DFI has three primary goals: provide an educational program in sustainable farming systems for desert climates; provide research and hands-on educational experience to UNR faculty, students, the agricultural industry and community; and demonstrate working agricultural systems in desert climates. The Farm Production Manager will play a critical role in achieving these goals on the ground, and maintaining a highly productive farm that serves these goals to the highest capacity. The Farm Production Manager will also be expected to contribute to the innovation of advancing DFI farming systems with alternative and sustainable practices. In addition, the position will participate in workshops and community outreach held at the Desert Farming Initiative.
65% – Vegetable Production– Oversee and Manage up to 12 acres of diversified row crops at two agricultural field stations; Valley Road Station and Main Station (Reno, NV).
Ensure weeds are controlled efficiently, timely, and to precision to ensure very little to no competition to the crop.
Manage weeds mechanically with multiple cultivation tractor implements, flame weeders, and with hand tools as needed.
Control weeds on the perimeter of field organically and conventionally.
Scout and identify pests including insects and fungal issues before the problem is economically detrimental.
Identify solutions to address pest issues following Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Practices.
Conduct and oversee the effective application of fungicides and insecticides by using various spray equipment. Work closely the Program Manager in selecting best pesticide products.
Ensure safe handling of pesticides and use of personal protection equipment by training staff, and ensuring proper storage of chemicals.
Obtain a Private Applicators License
Maintain a pesticide application log
Apply and or oversee the application of soil amendments and fertilizers.
Working closely with the Program Manager, execute a soil fertility management plan, and protect the farm from soil erosion.
The position is responsible for managing all irrigation systems, including installing, maintaining, troubleshoots, improving and training staff on all tasks required to manage irrigation system.
Ensuring each crop is receiving their proper irrigation requirements, with an emphasis on water conservation.
Order irrigation parts as needed.
Tractor Work and Equipment Management
Execute and oversee all ground work required to in a row crop vegetable operation, including; cultivation, tillage, seeding, transplanting, fertilizing, compost/manure spreading, mowing, bed shaping, drip tape and mulch laying, harvesting, etc.
Improve mechanization of the current row cropping system, and play a critical role in selecting new and innovated equipment for precise row crop production.
Train DFI staff to operate and maintain equipment effectively, including the Assistant Farm Manager and select student employees.
Coordinate with Agriculture Experiment Station staff for using alternative tractor equipment that is not directly owned by DFI. Work with staff to find solutions to improve the efficiency and timing of field tractor work at Main Station.
Working very closely with the Program Manager, develop and implement a crop plan.
Learn and become proficient with Tend Smart Farm crop planning software. This is the crop planning and record keeping software used at DFI.
In time, delegate crop planning tasks for Valley Road to the Assistant Farm Manager.
The incumbent may also select varieties, identify best seed sources, and order seed.
Create weekly produce availability and predicted harvest reports.
Execute weekly harvest for sales and crop requirements as directed by the Program Manager.
Oversee and manage all harvest activities, ensuring that each product is harvested timely to ensure maximum freshness, sizing, and quality.
Manage crew to harvest efficiently, and ensure all product is handled and packaged in the field appropriately, following food safety guidelines.
Working in close communication with the Assistant Farm Manager and Education Program Coordinator, deliver produce to the wash and pack house, and be very familiar with washing a packing requirements of each product. At times, the incumbent may be required to work on the wash and pack line.
Train staff in proper harvest and post-harvest handling for maximizing harvest efficiency and ensuring food safety guidelines.
Farm Employee Management
For all tasks required in the production of vegetable production, manage and oversee the work quality of a team of staff and employees including the Assistant Farm Manager, farm employees, student employees, and volunteers.
Delegate management level responsibility to the Assistant Farm Manager in executing many field tasks. The Assistant Farm Manager will be responsible in leading crew members and overseeing management of the Valley Road vegetable production with direction and oversight from the Farm Production Manager.
5% – Vineyard Management
Provide assistance when needed in the vineyard, with expected tasks including tractor and irrigation assistance.
10% Greenhouse Management
Provide assistance when needed to the Assistant Farm Manager, and work in close communication in the timing of field transplanting to ensure plants are going into the ground at the optimal stage in plant growth.
10% Facilities Management and Maintenance
Oversee the maintenance of all farm infrastructure integrity including hoop houses, greenhouse, wash and pack house, and sheds.
Identify issues or improvements that need to be conducted by University Facilities and report all issue to the Program Manager.
5% – Record Keeping and Data Collection
Working as a team with the Assistant Farm Manager and Program Manager, maintain timely record keeping for the following; Food Safety and GAP plan, organic certification, crop planning, soil amendments, pesticide application, and irrigation.
5% – Outreach and Education
Assist with workshops, tours and demonstrations of program activities.
A high school diploma and four years of related work experience; OR an Associate’s Degree with three years of related work experience; OR a Bachelor’s Degree with two years of related work experience; OR a Master’s Degree with one year of related work experience. Related work experience: in a farm management level position including farm supervisor, assistant farm manager, farm manager, or owner for a vegetable and or fruit farm; in diversified row crop farming systems; or working on an educational, research, or demonstration farm.
An agriculture or natural resources related Bachelor degree, with at least 4 years of farm management employment on a diversified row crop vegetable and fruit farm. The ideal will also obtain years of experience working in lower level positions on a farm, such as a farm intern, field worker, crew leader, or assistant farm manager. In addition, the ideal candidate will have the skills and ability to immediately take over the day to day farm operations and lead the farm team to successfully produce a diversity of crop on 4-5 acres in year one. Additional preferred qualifications include candidates with proven experience in managing soil fertility and pesticide programs.
The total compensation package (Compensation Grade B) includes a negotiable competitive salary, a rich retirement plan, health insurance options that include dental and vision, life insurance, long-term disability, thirty (30) days of sick leave provided upon start date and two (2) days of sick leave accrued per full month after the first year of service, two (2) days of annual leave accrued each full month, along with many other benefits. Additionally, there is a grant-in-aid educational benefit for faculty and dependents. For more information, please visit: https://www.unr.edu/hr/benefits
The Desert Farming Initiative is a collaboration between the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. It is the University’s agribusiness flagship, serving as an educational facility for students, faculty and community members to discover the fruitful benefits of hoop-house, greenhouse and organic farming in high-desert climates. Along with serving as an open-house learning hub for visitors, DFI employs student workers and interested community members. Employees help maintain the facilities, harvest crops and contribute to the project’s sustainability efforts through participation in farmers markets and produce sales.