R&D District Substrate Farm Manager

  • Location: US - Watsonville, California
  • Job Family: Research & Development
  • Time Type: Full time
  • Job Requisition ID: R0001636
  • Experience Years: 5-10 Years of Experience
  • Employee Type: Regular

About the Opportunity

Driscoll’s operates a number of research farms which form a critical part of the overall business. The R&D District Substrate Farm Manager will develop and manage all aspects of farming for the R&D managed substrate research farms in Watsonville for all four berry products, provide leadership and mentoring to the team and will be responsible for growing the crops to the highest possible standard. This opportunity will also collaborate with the plant breeders, applied researchers, plant physiologists, entomologists, and plant pathologists to ensure their trials’ performance. As such, a high caliber candidate is required to ensure the research farms are managed to the highest possible standards. Due to the scale and complexity of the research farms, we are looking for a candidate with significant managerial experience in horticulture. In particular, management of a large team of full-time and seasonal staff will be required, as will be the work organization, planning and management of budgets within targets.


  • Collaborate and regularly communicate with our breeder and other researcher partners in order to ensure we grow our berry plants to a high quality standard and within the trial parameters.
  • Manage and develop the talents of a Substrate Growing Supervisor, a General Farming Supervisor, and a Harvest Crew Supervisor, each of whom have sizable crews including leads and technicians.
  • Plan & execute the design of a new substrate ranch up to 62 acres (25 hectares) for all four berry plants including complex and advanced irrigation & fertigation systems in order to accommodate up to 75 separate trials being grown at the same time.
  • Utilize the help of internal Driscoll’s advisor's and support staff, as well as various outside vendors for this new substrate ranch project.
  • While this ranch is being planned, oversee the agronomy of all crops in our current substrate production systems, working with the existing research farm teams to grow the crops to the best commercial practice.
  • Develop and implement sustainable research farm systems to deliver high quality data for both plant breeding and other research trials so they can accurately guide commercial decisions.
  • Lead and empower the team and improve the overall technical knowledge of the research farm staff and strengthen the knowledge base of the research farm teams. Mentor and onboard new research farm staff and foster development and collaboration.
  • Ensure the research farms operate within the approved budgetary targets by managing and monitoring expenditures accordingly, including larger capital purchases.
  • Contribute to the strategic planning of the research farms and ensure implementation of plans in alignment with plant breeders and other researchers.
  • Develop, design and implement high-quality processes and improvements in research farms and lead the development of new technologies in the breeding research farms.
  • Oversee the team’s pest and disease scouting and management. Ensure weed management with a clean and organized area.
  • Accountable for equipment maintenance and worker safety.
  • Develop crop rotations and site mapping for trial placement with breeders.
  • Responsible for reviewing/approving all administrative paperwork for the farm crews in regards to payroll, training, evaluations, promotions and terminations.
  • Design and implement systems to efficiently manage labor and equipment.
  • Follow Company policies and practices while representing Driscoll’s in an ethical and business-like manner in all interactions with employees, governmental agencies, growers, customers, etc.
  • Ensure the security of Driscoll’s confidential and proprietary information and materials.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Candidate Profile

  • A Bachelor’s degree (with at least 8 years of experience) or a Master’s degree (with at least 5 years of experience) in Horticulture, Biology, Biochemistry or Agriculture, with comprehensive understanding of horticulture crops and agronomy, plant physiology and plant genetics.
  • Significant experience of managing complex horticultural sites involving large teams of full-time and seasonal staff with a proven ability to develop the skills and talents of those team members.
  • Ability to collaborate well with others on a weekly basis.
  • Experience planning and managing budgets and prioritizing expenditures within set guidelines.
  • Knowledge of the agronomy of horticultural crops from seedling to harvesting.
  • Berry production knowledge including direct experience with soft fruit production is not essential but would be highly desirable.
  • Practical experience of farming practices including equipment operation and management, irrigation management, and pest control.
  • Knowledge and experience of agricultural research would be an added advantage.
  • Feel comfortable working in field, office and corporate settings, and able and willing to perform hard, repetitive physical work as necessary.
  • Travel primarily in the Watsonville area, with occasional travel to other farming locations in the U.S. and at times, internationally.
  • California driver’s license and the ability to be covered under company-sponsored vehicle insurance program are also required.
  • Bilingual (English/Spanish) strongly preferred.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with computer programs (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook).
  • Ability to work with key stakeholders and manage multiple projects across the enterprise.
  • Open attitude to try new systems and new technologies in farming.
  • Collaborative attitude towards breeding, applied research, plant physiologist, entomologist, and plant pathologist partners, with the highest level of service.

Competencies important for this role:

  • Excellent communication and reporting skills.
  • Project management skills.
  • Leadership and Management skills.
  • Budgeting and financial skills.
  • Creative, innovative and result oriented team player.

About Driscolls

Driscoll's is the global market leader for fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. With more than 100 years of farming heritage and hundreds of independent growers around the world, Driscoll's is passionate about growing fresh, beautiful and delicious berries. Our values of humility, passion and trustworthiness have guided our mission to delight consumers around the world.

Driscoll's exclusive patented berry varieties are developed through years of research using only natural breeding methods – meaning, no GMOs. From farm-to-table, we focus on delivering a high quality, premium berry experience with our many supply chain partners.

Driscoll's is the trusted brand for Only the Finest Berries™.

Driscoll's es el proveedor líder en la comercialización de Fresas, Frambuesas, Zarzamoras y Arándanos Azules en el mundo. Con más de 100 años de herencia en agricultura y cientos de productores independiente alrededor del mundo, Driscoll's es una compañía apasionada por cultivar Berries frescas, hermosas y deliciosas. Nuestros valores de humildad, pasión y confianza han guiado nuestra misión de deleitar a los consumidores en el mundo.

Las variedades exclusivas de Driscoll's han sido desarrolladas a través de años de investigación usando sólo métodos de mejoramiento natural. De la granja a la mesa, nos enfocamos en ofrecer una experiencia de alta calidad con apoyo de nuestros socios de la cadena de suministro.

Driscoll's es la marca de confianza de sólo las mejores Berries.