Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Paul Dowling from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Paul Dowling

Horticulturist

Teagasc

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  Paul Dowling
Ideally, try and get a job in the industry for a summer, or get a bit of experience before you go into it. You have to be happy with working outside, and doing physical work. If you are not prepared to work hard or are looking for a soft job, don't go into Landscaping. Design is very sexy at the moment, everyone wants to be a designer, a Landscape Designer. It's different on the ground, you have to be out there on sites in all weather and you have to make sure projects are managed well and you're able to muck in with everyone else. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture or Landscaping as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business. Geography would be a relevant subject as well. Also, the simple things like having a full, clean driving licence, which can make you a lot more employable if you are trying for a job with a Landscape Conractor. This indicates that you are more mobile and can also drive a company van if needed. Be sure you're happy with the outdoor life. Having taken a Horticulture course will give you an advantage. However, it's possible to take a job first and study later, e.g. in IT Blanchardstown it is possible to study at night. I think you cannot beat doing the Diploma Course in the National Botanic Gardens because it is a good practical course which also covers all the theory and is invaluable for gaining plant knowledge.
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Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Career Profile: Farm Business Owner

Imelda Kinsella is a farm business owner (Family partnership) from Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny. Her interests outside farming include travel particularly outside Ireland. 

Farm details

Area ha: 38 ha milking platform, 101 ha farmed in total in four blocks, of this 12 ha is leased
Labour: Family labour plus one full time farm assistant
Herd: 120 spring calving cows and calf to beef system

Career path 
  • Certificate in Farming at Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural College
  •  Diploma in Dairy Management at Teagasc Clonakilty Agricultural College (including a twelve month work placement)
  • Home farming since 2001
Background

Imelda is farming in partnership with her parents Seamus and Marie on their dairy and beef farm. She was interested in farming from an early age. When she came home to farm in 2001 her parents were milking 65 cows and have gradually expanded to the current 120 cows. Entering a formal milk production partnership in 2003 allowed the Kinsella’s access milk quota to expand; it also formalised Imelda’s role on the farm and allowed her to have a greater management input.

Current role

Imelda’s role has changed considerably over the last 14 years. Originally she spent most of her time doing the daily farm jobs. Once she entered into a partnership she was involved more and more in the decision-making process for both daily management and long-term planning. Now she has the main management responsibility on the farm but still works closely with her parents and values their advice.

Up-skilling

Imelda has found her local Discussion Group to be a great place to learn. She was involved with Macra in local LEADER projects which helped her to learn more about business management.

Future career goals

Imelda sees a lot of scope to improve profitability at their current scale and so the priority is to improve this first before thinking about getting bigger. As well as a profitable business Imelda and her family also want to maintain a good work-life balance.

Article by: Teagasc