LEARN ALL ABOUT HORTICULTURAL CROP PRODUCTION
Humankind has been growing crops for thousands of years. Crops provide us with food, fibres for clothing and furnishings, oils for cosmetics, biofuels and cooking, and animal fodder amongst other things. Demand for crops will always be high, and demand for people who know how to grow them will also remain high.
As we move forward, different crops will become more, or less, popular and farmers must adapt to cope with changing needs and changing climates. This in-depth course is designed to provide students with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of crop growing. Whether its organic crop production, greenhouse growing, broadacre crops, or a specific type of crop – this course has it covered.
Study this course to develop a range of crop growing skills to equip you for success, whether in employment or in business.
Course Content & Structure
1. INTRODUCTION TO PLANTS (Minimum 40 hours instruction)
The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.
2. PLANT CULTURE (Minimum 60 hours instruction)
Describe how to prune different plants.
Demonstrate how to cut wood correctly, on the correct angle and section of the stem.
Describe how to plant a plant.
Demonstrate an awareness of different irrigation equipment, sprinklers, pumps and turf systems available by listing their comparative advantages and disadvantages.
Demonstrate competence in selecting an appropriate irrigation system for a garden, explaining the reasons why that system would be preferred.
Define water pressure and flow rate and how to calculate each.
Explain the need for regular maintenance of garden tools and equipment.
List factors that should be considered when comparing different types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.
The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.
3. SOILS AND PLANT NUTRITION (Minimum 50 hours instruction)
4. INTRODUCTORY PROPAGATION (Minimum 40 hours duration)
The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained.
5. IDENTIFICATION AND USE OF PLANTS (Minimum 60 hours instruction)
The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the realization that plants have optimum and preferred growing conditions.
6. PESTS, DISEASES AND WEEDS (Minimum 50 hours instruction)
The purpose of this study area is to introduce and help the student in identifying, describing and controlling a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situations and safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals are explained.
The core units consist of the following lessons:
Any three modules may be selected from crops units to satisfy core requirements.
This gives you a great deal of flexibility to focus on the area of crop production which is of greatest interest to you; or if you desire, undertake a greater diversity of studies if you prefer.
Options to choose your three electives from include the following
Fees do not include exam fees
THE ACS TEAM APPROACH
ACS was founded by John Mason in 1979 as Australian Horticultural Correspondence School.
Right from these very early times, we've always believed that the best education only comes when the student is learning from the experience of a whole range of industry experts (rather than just a single teacher).
Every ACS course is a work in progress, continually evolving, with new information being added and old information being updated by our team of internationally renowned professional horticulturists.
Over the decades more than 100 horticulture experts from across the world have contributed to these courses, bringing their individual knowledge and experiences from as wide afield as England and Spain to Australia and America.
While may colleges and universities focus on providing courses that relate only to the country where they are based, ACS has always striven to make its courses relevant to all parts of the world; any climate, economic or cultural situation. This has been achieved by involving a large number of professionals in the course development.
When it comes to tutoring, marking papers and mentoring students, the team approach is just as strong as with our writing. ACS students have the ability to obtain advice and support from staff across the world, with horticulture tutors located in the UK, Australia (both the north and south) and New Zealand.
The ACS team approach and global focus to both course content and student support, ensures our graduates have a unique and "real world" skills set. This unique approach is highly regarded by our colleagues in horticulture.
How to Grow Crops?
You can grow them either:
- In the open ground
- In a protected environment (like a greenhouse)
Options for Growing Crops in the Outside
There are a broad range of outdoor crop production systems. The main systems used for commercial cropping are:
Row cropping – the most commonly used production system; used to grow vegetables and herbs, cut flowers, fruit and nut trees, field-grown nursery stock. Advantages of row cropping include ease of access for machinery and people during planting, crop maintenance and harvesting. This system enables good water management (i.e. it is suitable for trickle irrigation systems) and weed control (using mulches between plants and mowing between rows).
Broad acre – most commonly used for large-scale vegetable and grain production. Also used for cut flowers, turf growing, and large-scale orchards (e.g. fruit grown for canning and juicing).
Hydroponics – a specialised and intensive system most commonly used to grow leafy vegetables, tomatoes and strawberries. Can be used to grow many other crops including cut flowers and root vegetables.
Containerised systems – used for growing nursery stock outdoors.
Trellising systems – used for supporting and training deciduous and vine fruits.
Hedging – used for tree and berry fruits, and nuts. Also used for growing nursery stock plants (to provide cutting propagation material).
Monoculture vs. Mixed Culture
Monoculture farming involves growing one type of crop or raising one type of animal. This system has been widely practised in recent years, and is favoured by many growers because it potentially gives good economic returns. By only growing one crop farmers are able to specialise and refine their growing techniques, and to concentrate their efforts in developing markets and investing in specialised equipment.
Mixed culture farming involves growing a variety of crops or animals. Until the Industrial Revolution and the advent of chemical fertilisers, all farmers made their living through mixed culture farming, and nowadays many growers are turning back to this system. This system has several important benefits:
- In most cases it is more environmentally sustainable than monoculture farming. Growing a wide range of different plants for different purposes can significantly enhance the land’s productivity over a period of time. This means that as well as growing several different cash efficient crops at any given time, the farmer grows other plants such as windbreaks and companion plants to improve the farm’s sustainability.
- The farmer is buffered against economic loss caused by market over/under supply or by the loss of one crop from pest/disease attack or unfavourable growing conditions
- Crops can be spread over the whole year, allowing better use of resources (such as farm equipment) and better management of labour and finance.
Who should do this course?
- Those wanting to make some extra income.
- Urban farmers.
- Start your own business.
- Improve productivity for an existing business.
- People already working in the industry.
- Learn how to grow a huge range of edible plants.
- Identify pests and diseases.