CERTIFICATE IN HORTICULTURE (HORTICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours
QualificationCertificate

 A Unique Training Opportunity

  • 300+ hours of broad based horticultural study,
  • combined with 300+ hrs of hydroponics and plant breeding
  • to become both a "general" horticulturist, and "specialist" horticultural technologist.
 
 
 Start or Manage a Commercial Horticulture Venture
One of the key requirements for any hydroponics is a reliable water supply. Without water, you cannot do it.
 As well as mains water supplies, water for use in hydroponics can be sourced from underground bores, wells, streams, dams and rivers. Most water supplies can in fact be used for hydroponics, however some may require treatment before use to remove excess minerals such as sodium, or the possibility of chemical contaminants, to adjust the alkalinity, or to kill water carried pathogens.  To this end, all proposed water sources should be tested before use. Testing allows you to choose the best available water source (if more than one exists), to decide whether treatment is necessary, to avoid using toxic water (and consequently ruining crops), and enables you to optimise your techniques for the best crop production.
 
CORE UNITS

Students must complete and pass all of these core units.

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.

Objectives

*Describe the relevant identifying physical features of flowering ornamental plants.

*Demonstrate how to use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.

*Dissect, draw and label two different flowers.

*Collect and identify the shapes of different leaves.

*Demonstrate how to identify between family, genus, species, variety and cultivar.

2. Plant culture Minimum 60 hours instruction

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.

Objectives

*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 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 types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.

3. Soils and plant nutrition Minimum 50 hours instruction

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.

Objectives

*Describe the soil types commonly found in plant culture in terms of texture, structure and water-holding and nutrient holding capacity.

*Describe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and aeration.

*List the elements essential for plant growth.

*Diagnose the major nutrient deficiencies that occur in ornamental plants and prescribe treatment practices.

*Describe soil pH and its importance in plant nutrition.

*Describe the process by which salting occurs and how to minimise its effect.

*Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes and report accordingly.

*Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.

*List a range of both natural and artificial fertilizers.

*Describe fertilizer programs to be used in five different situations with ornamental plants.

4. Introductory Propagation Minimum 40 hours duration

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.

Objectives

*Demonstrate propagation of six (6) different plants by cuttings and three from seed.

*Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.

*Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating both seed and cuttings.

*Describe the method and time of year used to propagate different plant varieties.

*Describe and demonstrate the steps in preparing and executing a variety of grafts and one budding technique.

*Explain the reasons why budding or grafting are sometimes preferred propagation methods.

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 appreciation of the different optimum and preferred growing conditions for different plants.

Objectives

*Select plants appropriate for growing in different climates.

*Select plants appropriate to use for shade, windbreaks, as a feature, and for various aesthetic effects.

*Categorise priorities which effect selection of plants for an ornamental garden.

*Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.

*List and analyze the situations where plants are used.

6. Pests, diseases and weeds Minimum 50 hours instruction

The purpose of this study area is develop the student's ability to identify, describe and control a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situation, and to describe safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals.

Objectives

*Explain in general terms the principles of pest, disease and weed control and the ecological (biological) approach to such control.

*Explain the host‘pathogen‘environment concept.

*Describe a variety of pesticides for control of pests, diseases and weeds of ornamental plants in terms of their active constituents, application methods, timing and rates, and safety procedures.

*Photograph or prepare specimens, identify and recommend control practices for at least five insect pests of ornamental plants.

*Photograph, sketch or prepare samples, identify and recommend control practices for three non‘insect ornamental plant health problems (e.g. fungal, viral, bacterial).

*Describe the major ways in which diseases (fungal, viral, bacterial and nematode) affect turf, the life cycle features that cause them to become a serious problem to turf culture and the methods available for their control.

*Identify, describe and recommend treatment for three different weed problems.

*Collect, press, mount and identify a collection of ten different weeds, and recommend chemical and non-chemical treatments which may be used to control each.

*List and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weed control methods.

STREAM UNITS


Hydroponics I

There are ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. How a Plant Grows
  3. Hydroponic Systems
  4. Nutrition & Nutrition management
  5. Plant Culture
  6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production
  7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production
  8. Solid Media vs Nutrient Film
  9. Greenhouse Operation & Management
  10. Special Assignment

Hydroponic Management

There are eleven lessons as follows:

  1. How the Crop Plant Grows
  2. How to Run a Small Evaluation Trial
  3. Harvest and Post Harvest
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Capsicum
  6. Lettuce, Salad Greens and Foliage Herb Crops
  7. Cucurbits (Cucumber and Melons)
  8. Strawberries
  9. Roses
  10. Carnations
  11. Orchids

Plant Breeding

There are 7 lessons in this module as follows:

  1. The Scope and Nature of the Plant Breeding Industry
  2. Introduction to Genetics
  3. Gamete Production, Pollination and Fertilisation in Plants
  4. Mono Hybrid and Dihybrid Inheritance in Plants
  5. Systematic Botany and Floral Structures
  6. Practical Plant Breeding Techniques
  7. Current Developments in Plant Genetics

Enrolment fee does not include exam fees



OPPORTUNITIES This course will build a very broad knowledge, awareness and understanding of hydroponics. As a graduate, you will be well placed to understand and see opportunities in a much better way than you could before commencing the course. This is an industry with huge potential. It is difficult for anyone to predict what your best opportunities might be, upon finishing your studies.  The one thing that is certain is that they will be greater than before you started.   Often our students find employment, or commence their own business while still studying the course. Such is the dynamic nature of the hydroponic industry. Others may apply what they learn to start a hydroponic supply or service business; and others may establish their own farm. Because hydroponics is such an intensive way of growing; it can be viable to start farming in a backyard or on a very small property. We have heard of viable farms on as little as a quarter acre of land. There are some hydroponic farms that grow in multi story buildings, and others that more than double their productivity on the same area of land, by farming fish alongside plants, through aquaponics.     

WHY PRACTICE HYDROPONICS?

Hydroponics has been practiced by market gardeners and other growers since the 1940's. The advantages of hydroponics are many; however, the disadvantages should not be overlooked when you are deciding whether or not to set up a hydroponics system.

Advantages
1. You can grow anywhere
Crops can be grown where no suitable soil exists or where the soil is contaminated with disease.

2. Culture is intensive
A lot can be grown in a small space, over a short period of time. It is also possible to grow in multi-levels. Where transportation costs to the market are significant (e.g. in the centre of large cities), hydroponic farms may be viable irrespective of land values. For example, in Japan hydroponic vegetables are grown in supermarkets in the centre of large cities. The savings on transport costs and the benefits of having fresh produce offsets the increased cost of space in these cities.

3. Heavy work is reduced
Labour for tilling the soil, cultivation, fumigation, watering and other traditional practices can be reduced and sometimes eliminated.

4. Water is conserved
A well-designed, properly run hydroponic system uses less water than gardening. This is an important advantage in areas with poor quality or limited water supplies. In particular, hydroponics is seen to have potential benefits in controlling water pollution in developing countries.

5. Pest and disease problems are reduced
The need to fumigate is reduced. Soil-borne plant diseases are more easily eradicated in many nutriculture systems. This is particularly true in ‘closed systems’ which can be totally flooded with an eradicant. The chance of soil-borne human disease is also reduced. Though rare in developed countries, it is possible for diseases to be transmitted from animal manures or soil micro-organisms onto food plants grown in soil, leading to illness.

6. Weed problems are almost eliminated
Weeds are a major problem in most soil-based systems. Weeds are almost non-existent in hydroponic setups.

7. Yields can be maximised
Maximum yields are possible, making the system economically feasible in high density and expensive land areas.

8. Nutrients are conserved
This can lead to a reduction in pollution of land and streams because valuable chemicals needn’t be lost.

9. The environment is more easily controlled
For example, in greenhouse operations the light, temperature, humidity and composition of the atmosphere can be manipulated, while in the root zone the timing and frequency of nutrient feeding and irrigation can be readily controlled.

10. Root zone chemistry is easier to control
Salt toxicities can be leached out; pH can be adjusted; EC (electroconductivity) can be adjusted. Also salts will not bind chemically to the majority of media used in hydroponics so problems of salt build-up that may occur in soils, particularly when highly soluble nutrients are used, are uncommon in hydroponics.

11. New plants are easier to establish
Transplant shock is reduced.

12. Crop rotation/fallowing is not necessary
All areas can be used at all times – you don’t need to leave a paddock for a year to fallow every so often.

The amateur horticulturist can use hydroponic systems at home, even in high rise buildings. A nutriculture system can be clean, light weight, and mechanised.

Disadvantages
1. Initial cost is high
The original construction cost per hectare is great. This may limit you to growing crops which either have a fast turnover or give a high return.

2. Skill and knowledge are needed to operate properly
Trained plantsmen must direct the growing operation. Knowledge of how plants grow and the principles of nutrition are important.

3. Diseases and pests can spread quickly through a system
Introduced diseases and nematodes may be quickly spread to all beds using the same nutrient tank in a closed system.

4. Beneficial soil life is normally absent

5. Plants react fast to both good and bad conditions
The plants in hydroponics react more quickly to changes in growing conditions. This means that the hydroponic gardener needs to watch his plants more closely for changes.

6. Available plant varieties are not always ideal
Most available plant varieties have been developed for growth in soil and in the open. Development of varieties which are specifically adapted to more controlled conditions may be slow to occur.

 
OPPORTUNITIES
 
This course will build a very broad knowledge, awareness and understanding of hydroponics. As a graduate, you will be well placed to understand and see opportunities in a much better way than you could before commencing the course.
This is an industry with huge potential. It is difficult for anyone to predict what your best opportunities might be, upon finishing your studies.  The one thing that is certain is that they will be greater than before you started.
 
Often our students find employment, or commence their own business while still studying the course. Such is the dynamic nature of the hydroponic industry. Others may apply what they learn to start a hydroponic supply or service business; and others may establish their own farm. Because hydroponics is such an intensive way of growing; it can be viable to start farming in a backyard or on a very small property. We have heard of viable farms on as little as a quarter acre of land. There are some hydroponic farms that grow in multi story buildings, and others that more than double their productivity on the same area of land, by farming fish alongside plants, through aquaponics.
 
Others will study the fundamentals of horticulture (as in this course) so that it will not only give them the knowledge needed to grow crops anmd do so efficiently - it also gives them the opportunity to move across industry sectors should they later wish to do so. Study the fundamentals as core units give you this option.
 
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