Course CodeBHT305
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Manage Irrigation for Horticulture
  • Learn water management, to grow better plants
  • A unique course, with practical application across all types of horticulture, developed and taught by highly trained and experienced professional horticulturists

Duration:  100 hours

This course compliments the "Irrigation Gardens" course. If you have limited knowledge or experience, you are better to study "Irrigation Gardens" first, then follow on with this course.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Waste water and recycling
    • minimize water wastage in irrigation.
  2. Measuring water usage
    • schedule irrigation for a large scale situation such as a large nursery, crop, turf, garden or pasture.
  3. Drainage
    • an analysis the design of different drainage systems
  4. Irrigation controllers
    • formulation of procedures to operate irrigation controllers, for appropriate tasks
  5. System maintenance
    • maintenance of irrigation systems, both small and large scale
  6. Fertigation
    • management of fertigation of plants through an irrigation system
  7. Design evaluation
    • evaluation of the design of large scale irrigation systems
  8. System design
    • how to design an irrigation system, including its drainage

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What You Will Do

  • Contact an enterprise involved in irrigation management. Ask them for information on their water restriction policy. When are water restrictions enforced and how do they affect water users? Focus mainly on the problems experienced by agricultural users. Are there ways that Ag users can minimise their dependence on water access? Write a brief report on your findings and submit with your assignment.
  • Visit an agricultural property that uses irrigation. Discuss with the manager the methods that are used to decide when to water and how much water to use. Is irrigation an important element in the success or otherwise of the property? Submit your findings with your assignment.
  • Choose a drainage system to which you can get access. Remember a drainage system is designed to cope with most situations. They are many examples in your local everyday environment. Some examples might include the guttering on your house or even on your car. Discuss how the system operates and include sketches to show design features. Submit with your assignment. (No more than one (1) page is required.)
  • Contact a number of companies that offer computerised and technology solutions to irrigation. Obtain prices and information if possible on appropriate working installations of their product. If possible try a follow up visit at least one (1) operation and discuss the product with a user as well as a retailer. If distance or transport is a problem then you could try writing for this information, which would be suitable for the purpose of this set task. Send your results in with your next assignment.
  • Visit (real or virtual) a farmer or agricultural producer who incorporated irrigation systems. Find sufficient farmers (producers) who use spray, micro, surface and flood systems.
  • Enquire about the maintenance of their systems.
  • How is water quality monitored and maintained?
  • Locate at least two irrigation supply companies.
  • Observe how they service customers. Are there any other services they provide?


Water may be renewable, but it is still often in Short Supply

The world's total amount of water has been estimated at 1.35 x 10 to the eighteenth power cubic metres (or 1600 million, million, million litres). Most of this is in a form unsuitable for human use, and there is uneven distribution around the world. About 97.2% is in salty oceans or seas, and about 2.48% is in ice caps or glaciers, aquifers too deep to extract from, in the atmosphere or in topsoil. Only about 0.32% is useable ground or surface water. Of this, 99% is too expensive to get, is in remote areas, or it is polluted. Only about 0.003% of the world's total water supply is usable. This provides about 12 million litres of useable water per person. For example, in the USA (typical of developed nations), the average daily use per person through direct personal use is about 700 litres, through indirect personal use is about 2300 litres, and through indirect agricultural use is about 4000 litres. This equates to a total of about 7000 litres per person per day.


There should be plenty of water for everyone, however three controlling factors: very unequal distribution, rapidly rising demand, and increasing pollution around urban and industrial areas - means that some areas of the planet are already using water at a greater rate than it is being replenished. Taking Australia as an example, this includes parts of the states of Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Water management will become increasingly important as the world tries to cater for the increasing demand for useable water.


The aim of irrigation management is to re-use water as much as possible, to collect and store as much water as possible, and to ensure that what water you do use is used in an efficient manner.
How Much Irrigation Should You Do? 
This is the "big question" for irrigation managers.
It isn't a simple question to manage either; but after doing this course, your ability to answer this question will be far better. 
  • Different types of plants need different levels of irrigation
  • Climate and soil conditions can increase or decrease the need to irrigate
  • Availability of water (or lack of) can impact on decisions about irrigation
  • The method of irrigation used can have a huge impact upon the quantity and frequency of irrigation needed.   
When you understand the dynamics of water in the soil, and in plants; you can make more informed decisions about irrigation. Making informed decisions will allow you to get more from limited water resources, reduce waste, optimise plant growth and maintain your plants in better condition.
It is obviously bad for plants to become so dry that they wilt; but it is equally bad for plants to become so waterlogged that their roots rot.
Wilting point is the point at which the soil is so dry that the plant begins to wilt. Field capacity is the point at which the soil is holding as much water as it can without excess water simply draining away and being lost.
The zone between wilting point and field capacity is important as you aim to keep moisture levels within this zone.
Generally plants take most of their requirements from the upper half of the root zone and as a result only about half of the available water is used. Irrigation is therefore required when approximately half of the available water is used up. The amount of water to be applied to plants is half of the available water in the root zone when the soil is at field capacity.
Irrigation applications are timed according to how quickly the plants use the available moisture. This is dependant on climatic conditions and the availability of nutrients. The rate at which water is supplied by irrigation is important due to soil infiltration rates, or the rate at which water will pass into the soil.
If water is supplied at a rate greater than the ground can absorb it, then runoff may occur resulting in a loss of water.

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.
Dr. Lynette Morgan Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs. Lyn has worked on horticultural projects in countries from the middle east to the Americas and New Zealand to the Phillippines. Lyn has been a tutor with ACS since 2003 and has contributed to the development of a range of hydroponic courses.
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.
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

Check out our eBooks

Sustainable Agricultureby John Mason (Printed Book) published by Landlinks Press (imprint of CSIRO Publishing).
Commercial HydroponicsLearn how to grow vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs and other plants hydroponically. This classic is now re-published with new images, a new layout and revised text. A must have resource for anyone who wants to grow hydroponically.
Water Gardeningby John Mason. Ideas and inspiration for landscaping and maintenance of ponds, fountains and other water features in the garden.
CitrusLearn to grow and use an amazing variety of different types of citrus



It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!