HYDROPONICS III

Course CodeBHT321
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn more about Managing Hydroponic Systems - Be an Expert in Hydroponics


This course has been developed to complement Hydroponics I and II; and is intended for people who already have some experience and understanding of hydroponics.


There are a number of different hydroponic methods and systems which can be used successfully both on a small scale and commercially. In commercial ventures, the choice of system will often be dictated by factors such as crop to be grown, the local climate, weather conditions, proximity to skilled labour, availability of materials, and so forth.

When planning a commercial or large scale hydroponic operation choosing a suitable site is probably the most important decision to be made. Obviously climatic factors and topography will vary depending on the area under consideration but there are some factors which are relevant to all locations:Choose a site which is relatively flat and preferably cleared
  • Choose a site which is close to markets or scrutinise cost of transporting crops to markets
  • Choose a site with good road access directly to the greenhouse and pack house
  • Choose a site which is not surrounded by buildings or built up residential areas
  • Choose crops for which there is a demand
  • Check the availability of labour
  • Make sure there is a suitable water supply available
  • Make sure there is power to the site
  • Check to see if there is a local horticultural supplier of substrates, system equipment and nutrient fertilisers, if not estimate freight costs from the nearest supplier.
  • Select equipment in accordance with the local climate e.g. greenhouses for cooler regions
  • Check local regulations regarding allowable land use on the site – this includes waste management, noise, waste water and discharge regulations.


Although all the various components of a hydroponics enterprise can be bought readymade and imported to the site for use, some components such as grow beds or benches for NFT channels, reservoir tanks, sump tanks and crop support can be made on site. It very much depends on your budget and the availability of materials. Other components such as pumps and pipes will need to be purchased but these can be installed by the grower to save on outside labour costs if required. Your choice of materials will also be governed by the type of system you are going to install.
    The way you manage a hydroponic installation is affected not only by the type of system, and what you are growing; but also where you are operating. In tropical and subtropical regions the temperatures can be quite excessive and prolonged. Spring and summer is also the wet season when plentiful rainfall causes high humidity levels. Although the days are longer during the wet season compared to the dry season (autumn and winter), there is little variation in the number of hours of sunlight. This is because the extra rainfall during the wet season is in short and intense spells. The clouds clear up very quickly afterwards to reveal sunny blue skies.

    Many of these countries are in regions around the world which have a certain percentage of affluent inhabitants and/or large tourist populations who demand food crops which are ideally suited for growth in temperate regions. Other problems faced by agriculturists in these regions include the fact that land in valleys, which has traditionally been developed to grow crops due to the richer supply of water, is often polluted by runoff from nearby towns and so crop diseases can become widespread. Warmer temperatures all year long also boost insect pest populations. Pests can also be a big problem in outdoors hydroponics systems.

    In temperate climates, hotter and longer summers coupled with intermittent rain and an already moister atmosphere, can also cause problems for growing outdoor temperate climate crops. In hydroponics systems, diseases in water can be controlled by applying appropriate treatments to the source water and through methods such as slow sand filtration.
     

    Lesson Structure

    1. Options for Managing Plant Culture
      • Different approaches to cultural operations in hydroponics
      • Organics vs. hydroponics:Nutrient differences in food products
      • Is hydroponic food more or less healthy than organic?
      • How feasible is organic hydroponics?
    2. Planning a Hydroponic Operation
      • Site and crop selection
      • Matching a system with a crop, materials, resources & services required.
    3. System Design Components
      • Pumps, hardware, media, pipes, size, type, and so forth.
      • Components for different types of culture.
    4. Managing a Hydroponic System in Hot, Humid Conditions
      • Tropical and subtropical climates or summer in temperate areas.
    5. Water Management
      • Water quality measures
      • Treatments
      • Runoff
      • Testing
      • Purifying water
      • Water in recirculating and run-to-waste systems.
    6. Nutrient Formulation
      • Standard formulations
      • Detecting toxicities & deficiencies.
    7. Controlling Nutrient Levels
      • Using EC and pH measures of concentration levels
      • Solution temperatures
      • Maintaining nutrient levels.
    8. Pest & Disease Control
      • Nutrient and pH manipulation for control of pests & diseases
      • Integrated pest management
      • Common pests and diseases.

    Aims

    • Describe different approaches to cultural operations
    • Demonstrate an awareness of similarities and differences between organic and hydroponic production techniques
    • Descrobe how to plan a hydroponic operation through site and crop selection, matching a specific crop, materials, resources and services required, and site layout; for different specific crops.
    • Discuss system design components such as pumps, grow beds, solution tanks, media and pipes in terms of size, type, and options for different cultures and specific crops.
    • Provide details of how to manage a hydroponic system in hot, humid conditions such as in tropical or subtropical areas, or in summer, in temperate areas, for specific crops.
    • Explain options for water management such as water sources, quality, testing, treatments, and use in recirculating and non recirculating systems.
    • Recommend awareness of natural and other methods of pest and disease control such as biological controls, as part of IPM and nutrient and pH manipulation for different pests and diseases.
    • Explain and recommend different standards of nutrient formulation, and advanced methods of detecting toxicities and deficiencies in specific crops.
    • Recommend methods to control nutrient level concentrations by taking EC, pH and temperature measurements, and maintaining nutrient levels for different specific crops.

     

    WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM DOING THIS COURSE?

     
    This is a course for experienced hydroponic growers who feel they can improve their success by learning more about those subjects covered by these lessons.
     
    Our tutors and course developers have created this course based on common problems that we have seen experienced by both experienced commercial growers and amateur hydroponic enthusiasts. You may know most of what you need to know; but sometimes, without some formal studies, there could be something you are "missing", that is having more of an impact than what you are prepared to persist with. Sometimes finding a deficiency in how you manage your hydroponics can be more difficult than it is worth, for a "consultant" who doesn't have the intimate knowledge of your operation, which you have.
     
    When you systematically learn about "all" the important aspects of managing a hydroponic system; and combine that with your own intimate knowledge of your system; you can see things that might not have otherwise been seen. You can also see possibilities for future plant growing, that you may not have previously considered.
     

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