Certificate In Hydroponics

Train for a business or career in hydroponic farming, supplies or services. Expert tutors led by John Mason, author of the best selling book, Commercial Hydroponics

Course CodeVHT013
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Hydroponic Distance Education Certificate

  • Learn to apply horticultural knowledge to hydroponic culture
  • Discover opportunities for business and employment; building contacts within industry
  • Self paced, 600 hour course, guided by an international team of expert tutors

What Skills and Knowledge are Needed for Success in Hydroponics?

Industry experts often quote the 20/80 rule : 20% hydroponic skill, 80% general horticulture skill. A common reason for failure is not knowing enough basic horticulture!

“A great course for those with some general horticultural knowledge – all aspects of hydroponics are covered in this well-rounded course from growing to marketing!” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort, ACS Tutor.

Course structure

This subject has 30 lessons, each requiring about 12-15 hours of study:

1.  Introduction to Hydroponic Technology

2.  Plant Growth Requirements – Light , artificial light, light balances

3.  Plant Growth Requirements - Nutrition- nutrient requirements, deficiencies, toxicities, pH, conductivity, salinity, growth regulators

4.  Plant Growth Requirements - Temperature

5.  Hydroponic Growing Systems  - basic concepts and designs, site considerations.

6.  Growing Media - types, properties, uses.

7.  Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions - nutrient formulae, preparing solutions.

8.  Hydroponic Equipment - componentry, nutrient delivery, pumping, testing

9.  Growing Structures - Design and Construction - types

10. Environmental Control A - Heating, Cooling

11. Environmental Control B - Lighting, Shading.

12. Environmental Control C - Carbon Dioxide Enrichment

13. Plant Culture In Hydroponics A - trellising, pruning, pollination, transplanting.

14. Plant Culture In Hydroponics B

15. Aggregate Culture

16. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Culture

17. Rockwool Culture

18. Other Techniques - wick systems, flood & drain, bag culture, aeroponics, etc.

19. Irrigation - Soil Requirements

20. Irrigation Systems

21. Plant Propagation - seed & cutting propagation & tissue culture

22. Market Gardening - Cut Flowers

23. Market Gardening - Vegetables

24. Other Plants In Hydroponics - herbs, grasses, indoor plants

25. Pest and Diseases - identifying the problem, pests and diseases in hydroponics

26. Weeds - identification and control

27. Managing A Commercial Hydroponics Farm - crop scheduling & selection standards

28. Management - Organisation and Supervision

29. Marketing - Promotion and Selling

30. Special Project -Prepare a detailed report of at least 2,000 words, plus photos or diagrams, on a particular aspect of technology which you have studied that significantly assists growing.

Exams: There are two exams for the course - one after Lesson 15 and another after Lesson 30.

General Course Objectives:

1. To provide a sound basis of knowledge in horticultural principles as they apply to the culture, use and management of plants in various production situations.

2. To provide new and existing employees who are unable to undertake on campus training with the opportunity to gain appropriate knowledge in the field of plant culture, use and management.

3. To prepare employees for supervisory and managerial positions in the field of plant culture, use and management.

4. To provide horticultural business owner/operators (or those contemplating ownership) with appropriate training to apply technical skills to the management of the physical, financial and human resources in which they have made, or will make, a substantial investment.

5. To provide an understanding of modern technology and its application to growing plants, with emphasis being placed on hydroponics production of commercially valuable plants.


What Can Be Grown?

Just about anything can be grown in hydroponics, from fruit and vegetables to herbs and indoor plants. Even animal feed can be produced hydroponically.

Certain Crops are more widely grown hydroponically though. These include:

  • Lettuce and other salad greens
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Capsicum
  • Mint and other herbs
  • Carnation
  • Rose
  • Orchids

This course is relevant to it all these, and a lot more.

How Will You Grow?

One of the first choices is whether to use water culture, aggregate culture or rockwool. All three are viable and used successfully with a large variety of crops in many different parts of the world.

Your choice should take into consideration the following: 

  • What is the cost of each and how readily available are materials in your area?
  • Is rockwool made/sold locally? If not, what freight charges are involved in having it delivered?
  • Is there a local source of sand or gravel which can be used, or do you need to pay high cartage costs?
  • What types of plants will you grow?
  • Some plants require better aeration than others. Some systems provide better aeration than others, for example NFT systems.

What Will the Roots Grow in?

There are three main groups of hydroponic media, based on their origins:

 1. Media derived from rock or stone
 2. Media derived from synthetics
 3. Organic media

Media is the term given to the solid material(s) used to replace soil in aggregate culture and rockwool culture.
Hydroponic media must fulfill the following criteria:

  • They must be chemically inert.
  • They must be chemically stable.
  • They must be clean.
  • They must drain sufficiently otherwise roots can receive too little oxygen.
  • They must have adequate water-holding capacity.
  • They must have adequate air-holding capacity
  • Buffer capacity should be good – this is the ability of the media to resist changes in pH.
  • It is preferable that cation exchange capacity is at least moderate to good.

Tips for Growing Hydroponic Fodder

Fodder crops have been successfully grown under intense cultivation using hydroponics. Hydroponic fodder may have some advantages:

  • It can be produced under controlled conditions (eg. inside a greenhouse) all year round, and during abnormal conditions such as drought or extreme cold.
  • It makes more efficient use of water supplies.
  • Protein content of hydroponic food may be significantly higher than the same plants grown in paddocks.
  • Plants may be grown in tiers (with artificial lighting), allowing much greater production per unit area.
  • Growth rates can be accelerated, allowing greater production per unit area, per year.
  • Hydroponic production can be designed to need less manpower.

The main disadvantage of hydroponic fodder cropping is that the establishment costs can be relatively high. Though hydroponic fodder production is not yet widely practiced, it has been used successfully for growing a variety of fodder plants including oats, wheat, rye, barley and sorghum.



Students choose this because it is our longest and strongest course on hydroponics. If you want to learn the most over the longest period of time; this could be ideal. If you are just starting out with learning about hydroponics and want to get up to speed as much as possible; and if you have the time to do this -it may be a very good choice.

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Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
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