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.


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


  • 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



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.


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.



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.




Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves. In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certificate in horticulture and a few years later, completed a Advanced Diploma in Horticulture amongst other qualifications. Adriana has worked across a broad spectrum of the horticulture industry and has developed a strong network of contacts in horticulture around Australia and beyond. She has written and contributed to many books and magazine articles. She has a passion for plant knowledge and sustainability and a natural understanding of how people learn about horticulture and has taught in various institutions and organistions as well as ACS. Adriana has been a tutor with ACS since the mid 90's and based on the feedback from past students has been an overwhelming success in helping people develop their skills and further careers in horticulture.
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 L. Mason Auithor of "Commercial Hydroponics", one of the world's best selling hydroponic books for more than 20 years. John completed a Diploma in Horticultural Science at Australia's oldest horticulture college in 1971. In 1974 he was asked to create and teach a hydroponic course for Council of Adult Education in Melbourne, Australia. Despite a strong and broad background in horticulture that included crop production, his practical experience with hydroponics was at that point limited. He established hydroponic gardens both at home and in the lecture rooms of CAE in Melbourne; and has been involved with hydroponics on many levels ever since.
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

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.
Cucumbers, Pumpkins, MarrowsLearn to grow and use all sorts of cucurbits as vegetables and more.
RosesThere are few things as uplifting as being greeted by the sweet fragrance of roses from your own garden. If you have always wanted to grow roses, or perhaps improve an established rose garden, make sure you are armed with the right knowledge! Learn from the masters in horticulture. This wonderfully colourful ebook will teach you everything you need to know about the passion of growing roses.
StrawberriesGrowing and using strawberries, varieties to grow and more



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!