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OUTDOOR PLANT PRODUCTION (CROPS I) BHT112

Course CodeBHT112
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Horticultural Crop Production Course
 
Ten lessons cover site, crop selection, soil management, cut flowers, vegetables, berries, nuts, herbs, tree fruits, other crops, managing a market garden and more.

 
Student comment (M.Simpson): "This course has been excellent.... I would be willing to recommend this course to any of my friends and colleagues"


COURSE STRUCTURE

This course has ten lessons.

1. Crop Production Systems

Learn to explain different cropping systems and their appropriate application for the production of different types of crops

2. Organic Crop Production

Learn to evaluate and explain organic plant production, and the requirements in at least two different countries, to achieve organic certification.

3. Soils and Nutrition

Learn to understand the function of soils and plant nutrition in outdoor cropping systems.

4. Nursery Stock Production

Learn to describe the commercial production of a range of nursery stock.

5. Tree Fruit Production

Describe the commercial production of a range of tree fruit crops.

6. Soft Fruits Production

Learn to develop an understanding of the techniques used to produce a range of soft fruits.

7. Vegetable Production

Learn to develop an understanding of the techniques used to grow a range of vegetables.

8. Cut Flower Production

Learn to develop an understanding of the commercial production of outdoor cut flowers.

9. Herbs, Nuts and Miscellaneous Crops

Learn to develop an understanding of the commercial production of herbs, nuts and other miscellaneous crops.

10. Crop Production Risk Assessment

Learn to understand the risks that may occur in outdoor crop production.

 

Aims

  • Explain different cropping systems and their appropriate application for the production of different types of crops.
  • Evaluate and explain organic plant production, and the requirements in at least two different countries, to achieve organic certification.
  • Explain the function of soils and plant nutrition in outdoor cropping systems.
  • Describe the commercial production of a range of nursery stock.
  • Describe the commercial production of a range of tree fruit crops.
  • Explain techniques used to produce a range of soft fruits.
  • Explain techniques used to grow a range of vegetables.
  • Explain the commercial production of outdoor-grown cut flowers.
  • Describe the commercial production of herbs, nuts and other miscellaneous crops.
  • Identify the risks that may occur in outdoor crop production.

Tips for Organic Vegetable Growing
 
 A range of growing methods is used in organic vegetable production:

Feed the soil not the plants
Plants obtain nutrients from the soil. When plants are fed constantly with soluble fertilisers they may grow quite well, but we are not improving the soil. In fact the opposite often occurs, with a build-up of salts leading to damage of the soil’s structure.  When plants are grown in this manner the soil is really only being used as a medium to hold the plant in place - similar to hydroponics. When we add well decomposed organic matter i.e. animal manures and compost to the soil we are feeding the soil – improving the structure and the fertility - plants can then access the nutrients they require for healthy growth from the soil.

Choose the right plant for the right place
Plants grow best when they are grown in the situation and soil conditions that suits them best; prevalent conditions should be altered as little as possible to suit the plant.  This may seem like common sense but is one of the most common reasons why plants don’t thrive or die.  Therefore plants that require acid soils should be grown in acid soil, lime lovers should be planted in alkaline soils, shade lovers in the shade and sun lovers in the sun.  Using this approach helps to protect the soil from damage through overuse of soil ameliorants such as lime (to raise pH) or aluminium sulphate (to lower pH). However some cultural techniques such as the constant addition of organic matter in the form of compost, animal manures and mulch, can over time tend to acidify the soil. This is often unavoidable, particularly in vegetable growing areas. Soil ameliorants such as dolomite (for example) will then need to be used to raise the pH from time to time.

Keep plants growing vigorously
Well prepared soil before planting, regular application of compost teas, organic fertiliser and managing soil moisture levels will all encourage plant growth and help reduce plant stress. However annual vegetables grow rapidly and use a lot of soil nutrients, the compost you incorporated in your initial bed preparation may not be released fast enough to keep up with the plant's capacity to grow. To overcome this - top-dress the soil with a suitable organic fertiliser. Plant leaves absorb nutrients very quickly and therefore applying foliar plant food is an ideal way to boost plant growth, particularly for leafy crops such as lettuce, cabbage, cauliflowers, and silver beet. Spacing is also important in plant growth and root spread. Small seedlings planted too close together will result in less than satisfactory growth, even with good soil preparation; plants starved for space and light will rarely produce a good crop. Over-crowding will also reduce ventilation around the plants, making them more susceptible to disease problems, such as mildews.

Don’t over feed
Overfeeding can lead to as many problems as underfeeding. Overfeeding produces lush green growth with sappy lax stems. This type of growth encourages insect attack and also tends to collapse during hot conditions.

Plant when conditions are favourable.
Planting too early, before the soil has warmed up for example, will check plant growth, may delay fruiting, may reduce the harvest and encourage insect attack. Planting out of season also creates problems – Asian cabbage planted during the hotter months for example tends to run to seed, lettuce seed won’t germinate in conditions over 30 degrees etc.  

Mulch
Mulching will help control weeds and prevent erosion of the soil from around the crop roots, reduces water need and helps provide nutrients. Mulch also increases the soil population of beneficial organisms such as earthworms. Mulch material should not have direct with the stems, etc. of the vegetables, as this may result in pest and disease problems e.g. stem or collar rots.

Control Pests and Diseases Promptly
Regular inspection of your vegetables is a must. The early sighting of pest and disease problems can prompt early action and control with appropriate natural control methods.

Meet some of our academics

Bob James Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry. He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He has worked a Grounds Manager at a major university; and a manager in a municipal parks department. Over recent years he has been helping younger horticulturists as a writer, teacher and consultant; and in that capacity, brings a diverse and unique set of experiences to benefit our students.
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having worked for 20 years as Education Officer at the "Garden Organic" (formerly HDRA). Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS, Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .


Check out our eBooks

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Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.
Plant Pests & DiseasesAre you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into your plant...visit the bookshop to find out more...
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