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Production Horticulture

Horticultural Technician

Job Description: 

A Horticultural Technician is someone who has specialised in a specific area of horticulture, such as quality assurance, irrigation specialist, skilled spray operative, glasshouse specialist, soil specialist or part of a team working in laboratories.

Some of the things a Horticultural Technician could do:

  • Diagnose and deal authoritatively with verbal and written enquiries on plant disease
  • Check that produce meets required standards. This may be to meet legislation, customer requirements or a Quality Assurance scheme.
  • Manage irrigation systems
  • Manage environmental controls within a production environment.

Possible tasks:

  • Inspecting and testing produce
  • Identifying problems and finding solutions
  • Comparing with requirements
  • Checking measuring and testing equipment and plant quality
  • Making decisions on quality
  • Keeping records of results.
Working Conditions: 

Working hours will vary according to the exact nature of the job.

As you may have a role within an organisation but also classed as the specialist technician for a specific  area you may be called on at all hours to assist with problems with technical systems, so flexibility is key.

A driving licence is often required to travel between different places of work.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Starting salaries can be around £15,500 - £19,500
  • Senior positions around £20,000 - £35,500.

Salaries for people working in private industry will vary considerably.

Skills: 

The skills will vary according to the specialist area of work.

Personal Qualities: 
  • Knowledge of science and plants
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • A methodical approach
  • Patience, perseverance and good concentration
  • Work well in a team and on his or her own initiative
  • Flexibility.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Horticulture Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Horticulture

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Horticulture and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/?lang=en

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships http://www.delni.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-services/modern-apprenticeships/

Getting In: 

For most Horticultural technicians you will have specialised in a certain area which interests you, for example quality assurance, irrigation, agronomy, seed science etc. 

So there are no formal routes into this particular career apart from specialising in a certain area

Getting On: 

Horticultural Technicians can progress to more senior positions within the organisation such as lead technician. 

Or you could take the specialism further and look at becoming an botanist, plant pathologist, agronomist etc.

Further Information: 

Horticultural Technicians can progress to more senior positions within the organisation such as lead technician. 

Or you could take the specialism further and look at becoming an botanist, plant pathologist, agronomist etc.

Horticultural Production Worker

Also known as: 

Fruit and Vegetable Worker; Glasshouse Production Worker; Plant Propagator; Nursery Worker.

Job Description: 

Horticulture Production Workers work in either food production or ornamental plant production/sales environment, producing plants in production areas, such as ornamental plant nurseries, fruit and vegetable production farms, cut flower grower farms, or on any farm or

site that produces plants.

Ornamental production of plants can include production for your local park to the shelves of the big garden centre chains, the trees, shrubs and flowers we all enjoy are grown at ornamental plant nurseries (an ornamental plant is one that looks good, but you can’t eat!).

Fruit and vegetable production; think of a greengrocer shop or supermarket aisle filled with British fruit and veg: you’d see apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, watercress…

They’re all grown by fruit and vegetable nurseries in the UK. The technology involved in growing edible plants plus the job opportunities from management to marketing make working on a fruit or veg nursery a rewarding career.  

Both areas of production may include either field production or protected production in glasshouses or plastic tunnels.

Horticultural Production Workers are likely to be involved in some of the following:

  • Growing plants, including sowing seeds, planting bulbs, cultivating cuttings and transferring the seedlings to pots and containers
  • Continuing to nurture plants by watering, weeding, pruning, and nutrient application
  • Identifying and dealing with pests and diseases
  • Maintaining horticultural tools, machinery and technical equipment
  • Identifying produce to be picked and packaged
  • Making sure the temperature, light and humidity in production area is at the optimum level
  • Working in teams to produce, pick and pack the final product
  • Customer service
  • Picking and packing of produce
  • Labelling of produce
  • Retailing of produce.

Some plant production centres can be quite large and have many different areas of work, where a variety of skills are required, such as production areas, garden centres and packhouse/dispatch areas.

The work can be challenging and affected by the weather and the changing seasons.

There are opportunities to progress to supervising a team of Horticultural Production Workers or specialise within a specific technical area such as irrigation specialist or soil specialist.

Working Conditions: 

The hours vary depending on the type of farm or production nursery and on the season. In large farms or nurseries staff may work a standard full-time week. In many businesses early starts are common in the summer months.

In both types of production businesses, weekend work, late evenings and overtime are common. There are also part-time and casual jobs available.

The work is rewarding and can be physically demanding. Workers may work inside or outside in all weather conditions. Protective clothing or a uniform is usually supplied.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary depending on the employer and where people live:

  • Starting salaries may be around £10,000 to £15,000 a year
  • With experience, Horticulture Production Workers may earn around £18,000 to £20,000
  • Those in supervisory or management roles may earn from around £20,000 to over £40,000 a year.
Skills: 
  • Be able to prepare sites for planting
  • Be able to prepare growing media
  • Be able to collect and store propagation material
  • Be able to propagate plants from seed
  • Be able to establish crops or plants
  • Be able to control the environmental conditions for protected crops
  • Be able to maintain the growth of crops or plants
  • Be able to harvest crops using varies means
  • Be able to complete post harvest operations, such as washing produce, trimming, grading, labelling etc.
  • Have good customer service skills.
Personal Qualities: 
  • Work in a team/with others
  • Work on your own
  • Time management
  • Self-motivated
  • Flexible working
  • Mobility.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Production Horticulture Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Production Horticulture

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Production Horticulture and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/?lang=en

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships http://www.delni.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-services/modern-apprenticeships/

Getting In: 

There are no formal entry requirements, but some employers ask for GCSEs (A*-C), especially in science subjects, or a Level 1 Award, Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture.

Customer service experience and skills are also important and some employers may also look for this type of previous experience or qualifications in retail and/or sales.

It may also be possible to enter this career as an assistant Horticultural Production Worker or through an appropriate Apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and will pay at least £107 per week.

Getting On: 

Horticultural Production Workers could progress to supervisory positions where they supervise the work of teams of Production workers.

If you wish to specialise within a particular area such as irrigation, soil, nutrition etc., you could gain technical experience and qualifications within a specific area and become a Horticultural Production Technician/Specialist with certain areas of responsibility.

Different areas in the UK specialise in particular types of production depending on the climate and soil.

There is also a range of jobs outside the immediate area of growing. Supermarkets require field officers to manage the need for a daily supply of fresh produce.

There are also the suppliers, who provide everything from packaging to spray chemicals, who need specialist advisers and research workers to develop new products.

Vacancies are advertised directly, through the local or national press or company websites.

Further Information: 

You can also find additional information from the following organisations and publications:

Industry Information

Publications, Magazines and Journals (Some may be priced):

  • Ranger Magazine
  • Countryside Magazine

Jobs

A to Z: 

Horticultural Production Manager

Also known as: 

Fruit and Vegetable Farm Manager; Packhouse Manager; Quality Assurance Manager; Nursery Manager; Plant Nursery Manager.

Job Description: 

Ornamental production of plants can include production for your local park to the shelves of the big garden centre chains, the trees, shrubs and flowers we all enjoy are grown at ornamental plant nurseries (an ornamental plant is one that looks good, but you can’t eat!).

Fruit and vegetable production; think of a greengrocer shop or supermarket aisle filled with British fruit and veg: you’d see apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, watercress… They’re all grown by fruit and vegetable nurseries/farms in the UK.

The technology involved in growing ornamental and edible plants, plus the job opportunities from management to marketing make working on an ornamental or fruit or veg nursery a rewarding career. 

Both areas of production may include either field production or protected production in glasshouses or plastic tunnels.

Horticultural Production Managers tend to raise crops, plan strategies for maximum yield and sustainability, organise farm/nursery administration, work machinery, organise associated businesses and manage staff.

They need to have technical and practical competence coupled with the ability to make sound business decisions.

Working Conditions: 

Most Horticultural Production Managers' are contracted to work 39 hours a week. However, in practice, many managers work longer hours. The nature of this job means that horticultural production managers may be on call day and night, seven days a week.

There are often no set hours and certain times of the year are particularly busy. Early morning starts are typical. The hours worked, are influenced by the particular season such as harvest time. Days worked during these seasons can be typically long.

Practical work on the farm/nursery is usually outdoors, in all weather conditions. Horticultural Production Managers also spend time in an office dealing with paperwork.

On a smaller site the manager will get involved in many of the production tasks, while on a larger site the manager is likely to spend most of their time in an office.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live:

  • Starting salaries for Horticultural Production Managers are at least £20,000 a year
  • With experience, Horticultural Production Managers may earn between £26,000 and £30,000
  • The manager of a large site with over ten years' experience may earn over £50,000 a year.
Skills: 
  • Be able to prepare contract specifications and monitor and maintain agreed contracts
  • Be able to manage budgets for your area/s of responsibility
  • Manage the quality assurance system
  • Produce plants for your area/s of responsibility
  • Recruit staff
  • Manage your area(s) of responsibility.
Personal Qualities: 
  • Interpersonal skills  
  • Work on your own
  • Time management
  • Self-motivated
  • Flexible working
  • Mobility.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Production Horticulture Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Production Horticulture

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Production Horticulture and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/?lang=en

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships http://www.delni.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-services/modern-apprenticeships/

Getting In: 

Many Horticultural Production Managers start by working at a nursery and develop their career through apprenticeships, combining on-the-job training and practical experience with day-release at a college, as well as developing specialist skills and in most cases people management and customer service skills.

Getting On: 

From large glasshouses growing tomatoes, other salad crops or ornamental plants, to very large sites specialising in field-grown vegetables, fruit growing or shrub growing, there are a range of opportunities to progress within this industry.

From managing multiple sites, regional management, or even working as consultants or civil servants making policy with Government departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

There is also a range of jobs outside the immediate area of growing. Supermarkets require field officers to manage the need for a daily supply of fresh produce.

There are also the suppliers, who provide everything from packaging to spray chemicals, who need specialist advisers and research workers to develop new products.

Further Information: 

You can also find additional information from the following organisations and publications:

Industry Information

Publications, Magazines and Journals (Some may be priced):

  • Ranger Magazine
  • Countryside Magazine

Jobs

 Horticulture jobs

A to Z: 

Assistant Plant Area Manager - Sue Preston

Sue Preston fell in love with horticulture having grown up in a family of keen gardeners, and helping her mum with the vegetable patch. Today, following extensive study, she is the Assistant Plant Area Manager at Fosseway Garden Centre, a large garden centre nestled in the Cotswolds. Sue studied for four years at Pershore College before joining Fosseway Garden Centre with two key two qualifications:

Garden Centre Director - Sally Cornelissen

Sally Cornelissen is Director of two garden centres in thr Liverpool area with a combined turnover of £3 million. Sally, aged 43, has undertaken extensive training herself and ensures her 85 employees are given appropriate training tailored to their roleTraining for garden centre businesses.

Sally completed an Advanced National Certificate of Agriculture (ANCH) at Pershore College and taken a range of training while running her business.

Business Owner at Hedon Salads - Tom Salmon

From the day Tom Salmon and his partner Tony Magistro launched Hedon Salads in 1993, they have shown their commitment to professional training - the company was the first UK horticultural business to achieve Investors in People just two years later.

Hedon Salads took on their first apprentices in 1995 and trained several dozen as well as offering NVQs before a difficult period around 2005 meant the company, which had become its own training centre, had to suspend training.

Food Safety Manager - Libby Spackman

Food Safety Manager Libby Spackman is passionate about horticultre. "I want to tell people there’s a lot more to horticulture than they realise, a lot more jobs, especially in this economic climate. Out of my peer group from university I’m earning the most money and I have a lot more options than other career routes." Libby’s career choice has already put her ahead of her university peers in terms of earnings and her work has helped her employers earn two prestigious awards. But Libby is still just 22 and only started working full time in summer 2009.

Horticulture Apprentice - Tom Thompson

Nineteen-year-old Tom Thompson from Norwich is studying for a Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeship through EDGE Apprenticeships in Food & Farming. He is working at a Pick-Your-Own farm in Norfolk.

The Farm stretches across 230 acres and is home to around 50 acres of fruit crops including strawberries, raspberries, apple, gooseberries, plums, cherries and pears. The fruit is part of the pick-your-own venture, where members of the public are able to pick fruit and buy freshly made produce such as homemade apple juice, cakes and strawberry ice cream.

Horticulture Apprentice - Sam Larke

Seventeen-year-old Sam Larke from Norwich is benefitting from practical hands-on experience through his Level 2 EDGE Apprenticeship in Production Horticulture at Beeston Garden Centre in Norfolk.

Sam has been working at the garden centre for just over four weeks and has been attending Easton & Otley College one day per week for the classroom-based learning for his apprenticeship.