Train for a career in commercial hydroponics!
course covers all aspects of hydroponics in the core studies. In the
elective studies, students can choose from a wide range of elective modules to tailor their learning to their own specific areas of interest.
This is an in-depth qualification suitable for hydroponic growers, manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and consultants.
- Develop your knowledge in hydroponics systems, designs, and applications
- Learn how set up hydroponic systems
- Learn how to grow crops using hydroponics
- Learn about nutrient use in hydroponic systems
- Learn how to manage hydroponic systems and equipment
- Learn about approaches to pest and weed control
- Understand the methods of irrigation
Note that each module in the Certificate in Commercial Hydroponics is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL
Amateur hydroponics may get away with a little guess work; after all, when growing for yourself, it won't matter that much if you have a little or a lot of excess produce
For a commercial operation though; optimum production may be the difference between profit and loss.
There are many things that can impact on productivity, but one of the most important is to properly manage nutrient levels.
How well a nutrient formulation performs in any given hydroponic systems depends on plant nutrient uptake, the suitability and balance of the formulation chosen, and the accuracy of weighing up the fertilizer salts and subsequent dilution for use. Most commercial growers carry out a process of regular nutrient solution analysis either on site with their own equipment or by sending solution samples to an agricultural lab. This analysis shows levels of each element in ppm, which can be compared back to the values provided in the original formulation. Any differences can be adjusted for so that the formulation often changes over time as required.
To collect samples of nutrient solution for lab analysis is relatively simple, but must be carried out correctly so that contamination does not occur and so that the sample is representative of the crop. Solution samples from recirculating systems such as NFT are easy to collect and just require a bottle of solution to be taken from the nutrient tank and sent off to the lab as soon as possible. The sample bottle should be clean and rinsed with solution before filling. For hydroponic substrate solutions, collecting a sample of nutrient solution requires a shallow container to be placed under a number of separate growing containers/bags/slabs to collect the nutrient drainage (or leachate) solution which flows from the base of the substrate at each irrigation cycle. This drainage sample or leachate solution is collected from several plants around the system and mixed to give a representative sample before being sent off to the lab. Lab analysis of nutrient samples test for the following parameters:
- pH, EC, NO3, NH4, Ca, Mg, P, K, S, Na, Cl, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, Zn,
- some labs may also test for Mo and Al.
As with water supply, these may be expressed in units of ppm, mg/l, mEq or mmol/l depending on the lab reporting system.
Once the nutrient solution analysis has been returned from the lab, this information can be used to make any adjustments required to the nutrient formulation. This allows adjustment of nutrient ratios, corrections of deficiencies, or allows for reductions in the levels of elements which may have been accumulating over time. Nutrient solution testing can also show up other problems such as the build-up of elements from the water supply (sodium in particular) or from the use of pH correction chemicals. In recirculating systems such as NFT, nutrient testing is a particularly valuable tool as it helps determine how long the solution can be run in the system before it becomes so out of balance that the solution must be replaced.