Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Alternative Agriculture)

Solid training program for working in alternative areas of agriculture as a technician or manager. Learn sustainable practices. Useful for farm managers, technical representatives, trainers and consultants.

Course Code: VAG054
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Become Skilled in Modern Farming Practices

Traditional farming practices have often left a legacy of damaged land through non-sustainable practices.

This course is aimed at people who wish to farm in ways that ensure land retains is useability through wise use of resources. 

Get ahead of the rest by planning for the future and making a difference.

 

Learn to Integrate Sustainability, Organics & Permaculture

Calling on innovative leaders who are prepared to meet the challenges of world-wide environmental degradation caused by broad-acre, chemical-based farming practices.

Agriculture today is a highly competitive, global market. Many traditional forms of agriculture are becoming more difficult to operate competitively, particularly within developed countries. Even in the most competitive economies, some agricultural enterprises still remain not only viable, but highly profitable. Success may be gained by value adding, or perhaps by filling a market niche not able to be readily filled by international or mass market competition.

This is course provides a solid foundation for people wishing to work in alternative areas of agriculture at a technician or management level; in positions such as a farm manager, technical representatives, trainers or consultants.

The looming food crisis has been created in part by energy-consuming, broad-acre systems that rely heavily on chemical inputs. These systems are environmentally destructive and need to be urgently dismantled and replaced by healthy, environmentally sustainable, alternative farming systems.

Modules

Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Alternative Agriculture).
 Farm Management BAG104
 Sustainable Agriculture BAG215
 Organic Farming BAG305
 
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Engineering I - Machinery & Equipment BSC105
 Soil Management (Agriculture) BAG103
 Workshop I BGN103
 
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 42 modules.
 Alternative Energy VSS102
 Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Business Studies BBS101
 Forestry Foundations BAG109
 Herbs for Home Gardeners AHT108
 Horse Care I BAG102
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Research Project I BGN102
 Workplace Health & Safety VBS103
 Animal Diseases BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Animal Health (Animal Husbandry II) BAG201
 Aquaculture BAG211
 Calf Rearing BAG207
 Cut Flower Production BHT221
 Engineering II - Engineering Applications BSC205
 Farm Tourism BTR205
 Forage Management BAG226
 Fruit Production - Temperate Climate BHT218
 Fruit Production - Warm Climate BHT217
 Goat Production BAG223
 Horse Care II BAG204
 Irrigation -- Agricultural Irrigation BAG213
 Natural Health Care for Animals BAG218
 Nut Production BHT219
 Pasture Management BAG212
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Pigs BAG209
 Plant Protection BHT207
 Poultry BAG208
 Research Project II BGN201
 Workshop II BGN203
 Advanced Permaculture BHT301
 Agricultural Marketing BAG304
 Agronomy BAG306
 Agronomy II - Grains BAG309
 Animal Breeding BAG301
 Aquaponic Production BHT319
 Horse Care III BAG302
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Alternative Agriculture) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Definitions of Organic Growing

Organic gardening and farming has been given a variety of names over the years - biological farming, sustainable agriculture, alternative agriculture, to name a few. Definitions of what is and isn't 'organic' are also extremely varied. Some of the most important features of organic production, as recognised by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), include:

  • Promoting existing biological cycles, from micro-organisms in the soil, to the plants and animals living on the soil.

  • Maintaining the environmental resources locally, using them carefully and efficiently and re-using materials as much as possible.

  • Not relying heavily on external resources on a continuous basis.

  • Minimizing any pollution both on-site and leaving the site.

  • Maintaining the genetic diversity of the area.

Practices which are typical for organic systems are composting, inter-cropping, crop rotation, fallowing, mechanical, hand weeding or heat-based weed control, green manure crops and the use of legumes to increase soil fertility. Pests and diseases are tackled with environmentally acceptable, sprays that have little environmental impact and biological controls (eg. predatory mites). Organic gardeners should avoid the use of inorganic (soluble) fertilisers, super-phosphate for example should not be used because it contains sulphuric acid, rock phosphate however is the acceptable alternative. Synthetic chemical herbicides, growth hormones and pesticides should also be avoided.  

One of the foundations of organic gardening and farming, linking many other principles together, is composting. By combining different materials, balancing carbon and nitrogen levels, coarse and fine ingredients, bacteria and worms act to break down the waste products. Composting produces a valuable fertiliser that can be returned to improve the soil. Natural biological cycles are promoted, 'wastes' are re-used and the need for external supplies of fertiliser are reduced or cut altogether.

Following are some further definitions of organic gardening: 

  "Organic Gardening is a method of growing vegetables, trees, shrubs, flowers and even lawns, without chemical fertilisers or poison sprays. You need not dig the soil, and yet you can still grow superior crops - organic means ‘like organism’. Gardening organically means treating the soil as if it is a living organism needing food, water, shelter and proper conditions.

‑ From Organic Gardening in Australia, by Roads.

  "The organic movement has its inception in the ideas and experiments of Sir Albert Howard - he noticed Indian farmers did not make use of artificial fertilisers - Sir Albert decided to use the methods of the natives, but with scientific management, to devise ways to recycle nutrients; to combine rough weeds and crop wastes in layers with high nitrogen manure making a pile which heated - resulting in multiplication of bacteria - to preserve the cycle of life by returning wastes to the soil."
‑ From Encyclopaedia of Organic Gardening, by Rodale Press.
 
  "Organic gardening is a collection of skills tempered with the ecological wisdom borne of experience and observation, which when applied, enhances and encourages the laws and rhythms of nature and so produce food of the highest quality".
‑ From Organic Gardening, by Peter Bennett.

INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE OF THE ORGANIC MOVEMENT

Lady Eve Balfour – farmer and organic farming pioneer. Born in the U.K. in 1899 she was one of the first women to study agriculture and at the age of 21 started farming in Suffolk England. For the next 70 years she worked as an educator, researcher (The Haughley Experiment – scientific experiment into organics) promoted organic farming, and published books, such as ‘The Living Soil’ in 1942. She co-founded the Soil Association in 1946 – an organisation that promoted sustainable agriculture and organic methods . This organisation still flourishes today and is one of the principle bodies dealing with inspections of, and awarding certificates to, organic farms and small-holdings in the UK.

Sir Albert Howard – Born in the U.K. in 1873 studied botany and became a principle figure in the organic movement. He is often referred to as the ‘father of modern organic agriculture’. He worked in Asia and India as an agriculture consultant and also developed and documented organic techniques that he also promoted throughout Europe. He wrote An Agricultural Testament – a classic organic farming text and published in 1940.

Jerome Irving Rodale born in 1878 in the USA was one of the first advocates of organic and sustainable farming in that country. Initially an accountant who set up an electrical firm, Rodale was later so influenced by the work of Sir Albert Howard that he bought a farm to test Sir Albert’s ideas. From then on he actively promoted an ‘organic life-style’ and also popularised the term ‘Organic Farming’.

With Sir Albert, as associate editor JI Rodale published (by Rodale Press, Inc.), the first edition of Organic Farming and Gardening in 1942 in order, to promote organic approaches to agriculture.

Rodale believed that the health of the soil and the plants living in it depended on introduction of organic matter in the form of decomposed animal and plant waste. He was also convinced that the use of chemical pesticides destroyed soil micro-organisms. These are the very organisms that are needed to breakdown plant and animal waste into usable nutrients, that promotes healthy plant growth. Rodale too is still flourishing today in the USA.

Where can this learning program lead?

Changes in the world’s natural resources, climate and economy all have a significant effect on Agriculture.  If being part of such a complex and dynamic industry is important to you, then developing your knowledge and skills through this course is ideal. 

This course is different to many others. It goes well beyond just teaching you the basic agricultural science skills, but incorporates a learning program that gets you involved with a variety of industry professionals to establish a network of contacts. 
The relationships developed through volunteer and paid work, hobbies and hands-on work experience will put you in a perfect position to follow your career dreams.

Possible roles within Alternative Agriculture Industry are:

  • Farm Management

  • Soil Testing

  • Food Safety

  • Food Processing

  • Technical and Sales Representative

  • Rural Trainers or Consultant

  • Livestock Feed Supplier

  • Pest Management

  • State/Local Government agency positions

  • Department of Agriculture positions

  • Alternative Agriculture Research positions


Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).

Long-term member since 1986.

ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).


What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.


Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.


How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.


What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.


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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Marius Erasmus

Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South

Cheryl Wilson

Cheryl has spent two decades working in agriculture, equine and education industries, across England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. She graduated with a B.Sc.(Hons), HND Horse Mgt, C&G Teaching Cert.
For several years, Cheryl managed the distance





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Maria Schmitz Fontes

Maria has extensive experience in Environmental Science working in the private and public sectors. She has 6 years of experience teaching graduate and post-graduate students subjects as Marine Pollution, Microbial Ecology, Geochemistry, Oceanography, Methods in Aquatic Science and Benthic Ecology. She has published over 20 scientific articles and book chapters. She has also coordinated an innovative project in bioenergy production using simple-cheap methods to isolate microbes in laboratory. She has collaborated with scientists of Climate Change Cluster Group from University of Technology Sydney and has current interests in areas such as: sustainability and clean energy.

Julia Mayo-Ramsay

Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay is a practicing environmental and agricultural lawyer. She holds a PhD in International Environmental Law, LLM, BLJS, GDLP, LLM (Environmental Law) and a Master of Applied Science (Agriculture).
Julia started out in agriculture working on various dairy farms in the 1980s before working as dairy manager / tutor at Hawkesbury Agricultural College Richmond NSW. Julia then went on to work at Riverina Artificial Breeders at Tabletop (Albury) NSW as an embryo transfer technician assisting vets with artificial breeding and embryo transfer in cattle, sheep and deer. This was followed by two years as a herd manager for a very large commercial dairy herd milking 3,000 cows over three dairies on the outskirts of Sydney before heading overseas. In 1994 Julia accepted a position in NE Thailand at the Sakhon Nakhon Institute of Technology (now a University) training farmers and students in cattle breeding and dairy farm management. On returning to Australia in late 1996 Julia completed a Master of Applied Science in Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (UWS) as well as law degrees and maritime studies. Julia now works as a Lawyer in the area of environmental and rural law.
Currently Julia teaches a variety of maritime subjects for Marine Rescue NSW.
As well as teaching Julia is working on a number of environmental research projects.

Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS Agriculture, Wildlife and Ecotourism students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, a Quality Assurance Manager, a Research Technician, and has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

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