How To Get Biocontrol Buy-In At Your Operation

Kyle Peterson, Production Manager at Fessler Nursery in Woodburn, OR, wears a number of hats in his job. He selects, schedules, and keeps track of crops, but also fills in wherever he needs to in order to ensure the company is running efficiently and profitably. Sometimes those duties entail getting buy-in from his bosses, as well as his customers, on the use of a new biocontrol tool.

Peterson shared his firsthand experience and talked about some additional aspects of running a successful biological program and how they can be applied to business in general, creating more profit and higher sales at the recent Biocontrols USA West 2017 Conference and Expo:

Q: What’s the most common roadblock you hear about or maybe have experienced yourself in getting the right people to buy in to allow you to implement a new biocontrol tool or program?

Peterson: There are several roadblocks that come up with regard to biocontrol, from lack of knowledge to lack of belief. Thankfully, as this part of the industry grows, these problems are diminishing. Every trade show I attend seems to have more and more seminars concentrating on biocontrol, and every one of them is packed with participants that are eager to learn. The most common challenge that I have come across is the “cost” question. It always comes back to the bottom line. “How expensive will this be?” When paired with a lack of knowledge or faith, this can become an almost insurmountable challenge.

Q: What’s the best strategy you’ve come up with to overcome those objections?

Peterson: This can be a difficult objection to overcome depending on just how set in their ways the leadership of the company is. If you just compare cost of biocontrol versus a conventional pesticide, you may miss your target. The key is to think outside of the box and to weigh in all the factors that are part of the big picture, which include things like labor expense, reentry intervals, and efficacy to name a few. Once you calculate these additional factors into your cost equation, you can develop a more balanced comparison that gives you a better opportunity to convince skeptics.

Q: How have you been able to use your biocontrols program at Fessler as a marketing tool for potential customers?

Peterson: I think we have really only just scratched the surface of the true potential for marketing based on use of biocontrol here at Fessler Nursery. A hot topic in our industry, and especially here in the Northwest, has been the use of chemicals that are harmful to pollinators. Millennials are an emerging and growing part of our customer base and they have an acute interest in sustainability and the environment. Our use of biocontrol has proven to be an excellent conversation piece with this group and has helped create both interest and loyalty in our products. We have been able to pass this strategy along to our wholesale customers to produce shared value for everyone involved in the supply chain.

To learn more about the Biocontrols USA West event, as well as upcoming events in the Biocontrols Conference & Expo Series, visit