Pest control products in commercial horticulture include things like synthetic chemicals and natural products to control insect pests, diseases or weeds in horticulture. It can also cover supply of equipment used to disseminate chemicals, store them and to protect the user when applying them.
Scope of Work
Many of those working with pest control products are involved in supply. This can mean anything from running and internet store selling products and equipment to supplying items in a bricks and mortar store. Some people may work in a garden retail department for a large DIY store or garden centre which specialises in pest and disease control. Others may be more concerned with serving farming and crop growing businesses. People in these sorts of roles can be general assistants through to managers or supervisors. Work may involve purchasing supplies from manufacturers, stock taking, arranging displays, advertising and promotional work, making sales, and liaising with customers.
Those working in manufacturing may be in factories producing chemical products, natural products or equipment used in applying chemicals. Roles can vary from labourers through to supervisors and management. Workers may need very good knowledge about using power tools and machinery, or correct handling and storage of chemicals. Some in manufacturing may be more focused on sales to retail outlets and promoting their products to sellers at home or overseas.
There are also opportunities for research and development within larger manufacturers. This can involve designing equipment or coming up with new chemical products for testing. This type of work is more skilful and may require expert knowledge.
What You Need to Learn
Horticulture fundamentals - Plant structure, soils and nutrition management, tree care, turf care, pruning, landscaping, planting, transplanting, fertilising
Health management - Pests, diseases, environmental disorders, weeds and biosecurity
Pest biology - Anatomy, physiology, life cycles, environmental triggers
Control techniques - Natural, chemical, preventative
Types of machinery - Know a range of different types of machinery used in manufacturing
Product knowledge - Selection of the right equipment for the job, operation & correct use, detailed knowledge of maintenance & repair of equipment
Chemistry - Basic chemistry; chemical knowledge, mixing chemicals, storing chemicals
Sales skills - Customer interaction, selling equipment & products, repeat business, retail networks, place orders, keep inventories, marketing, advertising
Health & safety - Assessment of risks & hazards, use of personal protective equipment, fire alarms & drills, location of first aid kits, basic first aid procedure
Starting a Career
Working in pest product supply can include retail and development work.
On the retail side, entry pathways include working in:
Garden retail or nurseries
On the development side, entry pathways include working in:
Landscaping or turf care
Factories, or for a pest control manufacturer
All experience is valuable. If you can demonstrate enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, many employers will be willing to give you a start providing they have vacancies.
Progressing a Career
Knowledge of pests and disease control products and equipment is always going to be sought after in commercial horticulture. People with product and equipment knowledge can make a long and rewarding career in this field so long as they are willing to keep learning. This can be done through attending workshops and seminars. These may be provided by employers or arranged by keen individuals themselves.
Another option is to take some study and in particular to ensure you have good knowledge which addresses each of the points listed under ‘things you need to know’ above. It is important that any study undertaken is relevant and of a high standard. It should be provided by reputable course providers who have qualified staff who are able to give up-to-date feedback. This will cement your knowledge and ensure you are desirable to employers.
Professional development is also important. Science, products, equipment and techniques are constantly changing and improving in horticulture like every other industry. If you are disconnected from industry change, you will not remain competitive with others who are up to date. It is therefore a good idea to be involved with a professional or trade organisation.
Within pest control there are opportunities to move up the ladder from general assistant to supervisory roles, team leader, management, or products development. Some may ultimately set up their own businesses dealing with products and equipment, or they may move into the service side of the industry.