HYDROPONICS I

Course CodeBHT224
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Lay the foundation for a career or business in Commercial Hydroponics.

This course is the starting point for any serious hydroponic grower. It provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most experienced hydroponic experts available. Over 100 hours (study at your own pace, the average time to complete this module is 4-6 months part time). Learn about:

  • nutrient solutions
  • different hydroponic techniques
  • rockwool, nft systems,different media,
  • plant culture, diseases, harvest and post harvest options
  • cut flowers, herbs and vegetables in hydroponics.

Written and taught by leading international experts including John Mason, author of Commercial Hydroponics (now in it's 8th printing) and Dr Lyn Morgan, author and commercial hydroponic consultant.

  COURSE STRUCTURE

There are ten lessons as follows:

1. Introduction

  • Scope and nature of Hydroponics
  • Wick Systems
  • Water Culture
  • Ebb and Flow (or flood and drain system)
  • Drip (with either a recovery or non-recovery process)
  • N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique)
  • Aeroponic Systems
  • Hydroponics as a Global Industry
  • Comparison with Soil Culture
  • Resources for more information
  • Introduction to Plant growth
  • Plant Structure
  • Biochemistry and Hydroponics
  • Biochemical Processes; Photosynthesis, Nutrient Uptake
  • Nutrients
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium and Magnesium
  • Sulphur, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Molybdenum, Carbon, Chlorine, Aluminium, Sodium
  • pH
  • Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions
  • Preparing Nutrient Solutions

3. Hydroponic Systems

  • What makes up a System
  • Location, Container, Water and Nutrient Application, Root Media etc
  • Two simple systems
  • Soil less media mixes
  • Rock wool; advantages, disadvantages, manufacture, propagation blocks, rockwool applications, etc.
  • NFT Systems
  • Solution Dispensation Methods and Techniques

4. Nutrition and Nutrition management

  • Understanding Nutrient Formulae
  • Writing Chemical Names
  • What Nutrients Does a Plant Need
  • Calculating Formulae
  • Mixing Nutrients
  • Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
  • Dutch Recommendations for Nutrient Formulae
  • Summary of Fertilisers or chemicals used in Hydroponic Nutrient Formulae
  • Managing pH
  • Managing Conductivity

 5. Plant Culture

  • Preparing a Flow Chart for Managing a Hydroponic Crop
  • Salinity Controllers
  • pH Controllers
  • Post Harvest Management of Crops; cooling, drying, Canning, Control Atmosphere Storage, Relative Humidity Storage, Freezing, Vacuum Storage, etc.
  • Pest and Disease Management in Controlled Environments
  • Fungal Problems and Management
  • Major Pest and Disease Disorders; viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematode
  • Diagnosis of Crop Disorders
  • Pests
  • Inspecting an Unhealthy Plant
  • Difficult to Diagnose Problems
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Review of Diseases
  • Review of Pests

6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production

  • Introduction
  • Commercial Cultivation of Vegetables
  • Propagating Vegetables
  • Seed Germination of Vegetables and Herbs
  • Optimum temperatures for different Vegetables
  • Time from planting to harvest for different Vegetables
  • Tomatoes in Hydroponics
  • Eggplant in Hydroponics
  • Hydroponic Lettuce
  • Review of Vegetable Families (groups)
  • Fresh Cut Herbs in Hydroponics
  • Nutrient Solution for Herbs
  • Selected Herb Crops; mint, parsley, thyme, dill basil, chives, etc.

7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production

  • Introduction
  • Carbon Dioxide enrichment
  • Culture of Specific Hydroponic Crops
  • Carnation
  • Gerbera
  • Gladioli
  • Rose
  • Indoor Plant Crops in Hydroponics

8. Solid Media vs. Nutrient Film

  • NFT
  • Header Tank or Direct Pumping
  • Solution Delivery
  • Capillary Matting
  • Channel Width and Length
  • Slope
  • Temperature
  • Types of Media for Aggregate Culture
  • Vermiculite
  • Sand
  • Perlite
  • Expanded Plastics
  • Expanded Clay
  • Scoria
  • Peat Moss
  • Coir Fibre
  • Composted Bark
  • Review of selected Indoor Plants in Hydroponics
  • African Violet
  • Anthurium
  • Aphelandra,
  • Bromeliad
  • Caladium
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Ferns, Ficus, Palms, etc

. Greenhouse Operation and Management

  • Growing Crops in Greenhouses
  • Solar Energy Applications
  • Greenhouse Shape, Orientation, Size, etc
  • Active Solar Heating Systems
  • Examples of Solar Greenhouses; case studies
  • What to Grow
  • Environmental Factors and how to Control them
  • Heaters
  • Light Factors
  • Managing water with Plants
  • Other Cultural Considerations; pollination, fruit cracking, ventilation, temperature, etc.

Special Assignment

  • Planning the Establishment or Management of a Hydroponic Enterprise

AIMS

  • Explain different hydroponic systems.
  • Select appropriate media for specified hydroponic crops.
  • Describe the equipment used in hydroponic systems.
  • Determine the management of nutrition in hydroponic systems.
  • Explain the management of a greenhouse in the production of a hydroponic crop.
  • Plan the establishment of hydroponic facility to satisfy specified criteria, both commercial and cultural.
  • Develop a management plan for a hydroponic facility.

 

Who Should Do This Course?
  • Anyone starting out in hydroponics
  • People working on a hydroponic farm, or planning to establish a farm, who have not seriously studied hydroponics before.
  • People working or hoping to work in a hydroponic shop or supply business
  • People who have been growing plants hydroponically; but have problems, and feel the have serious gaps in their knowledge, that need plugging

 

 
WHY HYDROPONICS?

What is hydroponics? What are the benefits of hydroponics?

Hydroponics has been practised by a few market gardeners and other growers since the 1940s. Since that time it's advantages have been increasingly acknowledged and it has grown steadily in popularity.Our principal began growing plants hydroponically in the early 1970's and teaching hydroponic courses not long after that.  We teach it because we know it can work, and for some situations it is the most practical and effective way of growing plants; particularly small crops like vegetables and berries.

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 can be relatively 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 plants men 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.


 

After the Course

Every graduate will get something different from this course. This is because the course is structured to provide a degree of flexibility in what you will learn.  As your learning develops, and you receive feedback in your assignments from expert tutors, you will be exploring the world of hydroponics, connecting with organisations, businesses and people; and growing different plants (your choices). Your knowledge and understanding will grow; but so will your awareness of what you might do with your new found knowledge and skills.

Some graduates will simply use this to develop a passion and build a hobby.

Many others will use this course to enhance business or career opportunities. Hydroponics is an industry that offers wide ranging possibilities. In some countries it is already a rapidly growing and well established industry, but in others it still has a long way to go.With growing urbanisation across the world, hydroponics is an intense form of food production, well suited for urban farming. In the future it may well be the best, if not only way, to provide fresh healthy food to people living in densely populated cities.

 Hydroponics I is an excellent starting point; and after graduation you may either continue developing your knowledge informally, through reading, networking and hands on experience; or you may use this as a foundation to build on through further studies such as Hydroponics II and III.

 

 

 

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