Learn to Manage a Cropping Farm
- Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts, Herbs, Berries, Flowers
- Vineyards, Orchards, Market Gardens, Greenhouses, Hydroponic Farms
- Rural or Urban; Small or Large
Note that each module in the Certificate in Crop Management is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Lots of Choices
There are thousands of different plants that have the potential to be grown for cropping, and dozens of different ways they can be grown.
Successful cropping starts with understanding all of these options and making good choices about what you grow where, and how you grow it.
This course will give you the knowledge and potential for making those better choices.
How are Crops grown?
Here are just some of the growing methods that might be used for growing a crop plant:
- Monocultures (growing lots of the same variety together -excluding any other plants from that area)
- Polycultures (mixing different varieties of plants together in the same area)
- Orchards or Tree Plantations -may be a monoculture, sometimes with other species interplanted, or growing under the tree canopy)
- Broad acre cropping –Some crops may be grown on a large scale by planting into prepared soil on a predetermined spacing in open paddocks. If drainage is an issue, plants or seeds may be planted into raised mounds. Commercial potato, pea and pumpkin crops might be grown this way.
- Row cropping – Soil is prepared, often (but not always) as raised beds in rows, and plants are planted at appropriate intervals along the rows.
- Raised Beds –Build walls to create a boxed in area on top of the ground and fill it with good soil, compost and manure. Some plants will spread over the surface and hang down the sides.
- No Dig Beds –Layers of weed seed free straw and compost or rotted manure, piled 40cm or more high, will create a compost heap like mound. If 70% or more of the mass is straw, this can have both good drainage and the ability to provide a moist root environment that neither gets too hot or too cold. No dig beds rarely need weeding, watering or feeding. Their construction is usually too expensive for commercial growing; but they are often a great no fuss option for home growing of vegetables.
- Hydroponic production –Hydroponics involves growing plants without soil. Roots will instead, grow in an inert material such as sand or gravel or in an enclosed channel with a constant flow of nutrient solution through that channel. Creating a cleaner root environment gives you greater control over disease and plant nutrition.
- Cloches to start a crop – A cloche is a small cover made of glass or plastic that can be placed over seeds or plants in their early development; used to keep them warm and protected from wind, early in the season, until they get established. They are often used in colder environments to extend the growing season.
- Greenhouse growing – Greenhouses also allow you to extend the growing season. They come in all shapes and sizes; some with heating and/or cooling systems. In some places they are used to grow crops all year round; and in other places, to just extend the season.
- Planting into a mulch mat – fabrics spread over the surface such as mulch mat, can suppress weeds, slow water loss from evaporation, and help keep the soil below warmer, as the roots are establishing.
- Trellis Growing – Some crops are suited to growing on trellis and others are not. Growing on a trellis can provide improved ventilation around foliage, reducing likelihood of fungal diseases.
- Isolating Plants – Many plants can often suffer with disease, and once one plant succumbs, it can spread rapidly to nearby plants. In a home situation, there is an argument for growing a couple of zucchini or cucumber plants in the front garden, and others behind your house. If plants get affected in one location; those in the other are less likely to also be affected at the same time.
- Container Growing – If you are only growing a couple of plants, large pots or tubs can be an option. These can be moved to cooler places when the weather warms, and to warmer places when it cools. One or two large healthy zucchinis or cucumbers in top condition can be all you need to feed a family.
- Vertical Gardens -where space is limited
- Hedge Rows
- Trellis Plantings - for climbing crops like grapes, passionfruit and kiwi fruit
YOU MAY BE SURPRISED AT WHAT IS POSSIBLE
Your dream of working on a farm may not be as far away as you think.
Crops are grown in many different ways on all sorts of properties today. People are no longer just farming on big properties in rural areas. Urban farms are springing up all over the world, sometimes in backyards or on rooftops even; and sometimes inside multi story buildings, and using artificial lighting and technology to grow plants on vertical walls or in rooms deep inside buildings. Other farms are embracing crops never grown before, to create and develop niche markets for foods that are only just starting to appear through gourmet outlets.
With imagination and knowledge you can start a new enterprise growing things you may not have previously considered, organically, hydroponically, vertically or in some other way you may not have even considered before.
This is a course that can be a great help to anyone who already has some experience; or a total eye opener to someone with a dream, but no experience .
Follow your passion and give yourself the best chance for successful crop production.