Hydroponic Management (Hydroponics II)

A hydroponics course for serious hydroponic growers - to improve commercial hydroponic knowledge and skills and understand managagement processes.

Course Code: BHT213
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Study Hydroponics at Management Level

A hydroponics course for serious hydroponic growers - to improve commercial hydroponic knowledge and skills and understand managagement processes.

Course developed and supported by:
John Mason: Author of the best selling book "Commercial Hydroponics"
Dr Lynn Morgan PhD,  renowned international hydroponic consultant and author.
  • ACS has been teaching hydroponics since the early 1980's and provides a unique network of support services from bases in both the UK and Australia.

“Even more in - depth than Hydroponics I, Hydroponics II takes a closer look at a few plant species in particular. This course will especially suit inclusion in a 'Design your own Certificate' study option.” - Tracey Morris Dip.Hort., Cert.Hort., Cert III Organic Farming, ACS Tutor.

 

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. How the Crop Plant Grows
    • Understanding how a plant grows in hydroponics, plant growth factors, manipulating and controlling growth, plant troubleshooting, resources, fruit set management, pollination issues, flower initiation, flower and fruit development etc.
  2. How to Run a Small Evaluation Trial
  3. Harvest and Post Harvest
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Capsicum
  6. Lettuce, Salad Greens and Foliage Herb Crops
  7. Cucurbits (Cucumber and Melons)
  8. Strawberries
  9. Roses
  10. Carnations
  11. Orchids

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Determine and explain factors that influence the growth of a crop.
  • Design and conduct a trial to evaluate the commercial prospect of growing a chosen hydroponic crop
  • Determine appropriate harvest and post harvest treatments for different types of hydroponic crops.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial tomato crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial capsicum crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial Lettuce, Salad Greens and Foliage Herb Crops in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial cucurbit crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial strawberry crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial cut flower rose crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial cut flower carnation crop in any given location.
  • Determine an appropriate procedure for hydroponic production of a commercial cut flower Orchid crop in any given location.

How to Run a Hydroponic Trial 

 
 

Many hydroponic growers make the basic mistake of not testing and perfecting their method for growing a crop, before they invest a lot of time and money in a full scale project.  Running a small trial may take time; but it is the best way to minimize the risk and reduce the chance of wasting a great deal of money and time.

Hydroponic grower trials attempt to simulate conditions under which a crop might be grown commercially, but on a much smaller, and less costly scale.

They often compare the success of growing a number of different plants, or groups of plants.

There are many different variables that can affect the success or failure of a hydroponic crop. These fall into different categories, including:

  • Type of system
  • Nutrition supplied
  • Water supplied
  • Plant cultivar being grown
  • Environmental conditions (eg. Temperature, light, air quality)
  • Exposure to pest and disease
  • Cultural Management (eg. Pruning, spacing, harvest time, etc).

A useful trial is generally designed to compare one type of factor, and in order to do this effectively, all but that one type of factor must be kept the same.

For example: Four different tomato varieties are all grown in the same system, each being exposed to identical growing conditions (ie. same nutrition, same hydroponic system, same nutrition, etc).

The same variety of tomato is grown in four different hydroponic systems, but using the same nutrient, pruned and trained the same way, fed the same nutrient at the same rate, etc).

RUNNING A CROP TRIAL

 

Growers are advised to conduct a field trial before growing any new crop or cultivar on a commercial basis. Too often growers spend a lot of money, time and effort setting up a system only to find the crop under performs or even fails. A field trial avoids many such problems by allowing the grower to assess and compare different crop treatments on a small scale before embarking on a full-scale effort.

Examples of crop trials commonly used by growers include trialing different crops, evaluating new cultivars, and comparing growing media or feeding strategies. 


Basics of setting up a comparison trial

A crop trial is basically an experiment that allows the grower to make comparisons between different treatments. The treatment might be an adjustment to a nutrient solution, trialing a new cultivar, trying out a different growing medium, etc.

The design and analysis of a meaningful crop trial will often require the help of a professional horticultural consultant. Before setting up the trial, the grower needs to decide on the size of the trial and the number of treatments (e.g. comparisons between new cultivars or different levels of a nutrient) to be tested. It is preferable to keep trials simple with minimal treatments to be tested.

All plants in the trial are divided into ‘plots’, with each plot consisting of a group of plants in the same location receiving the same treatment. For each treatment tested, one group of plants is a control plot, which receives the grower’s usual management program. The other groups of plants also receive the identical management program, except for the actual treatment itself. The purpose of the control plot is to enable a comparison to be made with the treatment plot(s).

‘Guard plants’ are placed are used around the edge of outside of the trial area. Their purpose is to prevent edge effects that may influence growth of plots on the outside of the trial. The guard plants do not form a part of the trial – they are part of the materials used to carry out the trial.

Plot positions must be done randomly to exclude experimental bias. Bias can be introduced into an experiment if the grower selects conditions for the treatment and control plots in a non-random fashion. A simple way to allocate plot positions is to number the plots, and then use a random number generator on a hand calculator to allocate plots.

 

Running the trial: records and recording

There are many measurements that may give valuable data, including solution analyses, foliar mineral analysis, plant height, leaf area and leaf area index (LAI), root dry weight, plant dry weight versus fresh weight, fruit quality assessment, water uptake, yields, marketable yields, taste quality assessment, shelf life and photographs. There may be a number of characteristics that the grower wishes to assess.

 

Evaluating the trial

The crop trial is evaluated by comparing the control plot against a treatment or a number of treatment plots. The assessment of the trial usually depends on statistical analysis which determines whether observed differences between control and experimental plots are likely to be due to real differences or chance occurrence.

Replication of plants and plots is commonly used to improve statistical evaluation. The higher the number of replications, the lower the margin for error in the trial.

In evaluating the trial, standard statistical analysis should be used to determine the true result of the trial. Simply looking at the plants and drawing a conclusion from them can be misleading. It is much more useful to quantify the trial by counting plants and carrying out a statistical analysis of the data in order to determine whether any observed effects are significant. In order to do this, the grower may need to employ the services of a statistician or horticultural consultant.

Prerequisite: Hydroponics I or significant experience.
 

What are the  Assignments like?

 
Examples:  
Interview two different people who have experience seriously growing plants in hydroponics. These might be hydroponic shop owners, commercial growers, or even just keen amateurs. They should be people who can answer the questions below from experience.Ask each of these people the following questions and make notes of their answers:
 

What has been the most difficult plant variety you have grown in hydroponics? This should be something you have succeeded with, but have had to put extra effort into succeeding with; and perhaps success has only come after a second or third attempt.
What type of system did you use to grow this in?

What do you think was the most critical factor in manipulating the growth of this plant; how did you control that factor, and how did your action affect the plant’s growth?

What type of commercial crops are most suited to commercial hydroponic farming in your locality, and why? Locate information on hydroponic trials that have been conducted by others.

Information you find might include evaluations of particular crops or varieties, evaluations of particular technology for hydroponics, or evaluation of various systems or methods for particular crops.  You should try to find information from sources such as hydroponics magazines and journals, hydroponics books, the Internet, hydroponics experts, and any other sources you can think of.

WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM DOING THIS COURSE?

If you already work in hydroponics but want to take that next step into management then this course covers those much needed management basics. It is a natural progression from Hydroponincs 1 but may be studied as a stand alone course if you are already working in the industry and have sound basic knowledge.

 
  

 

ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

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


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.

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

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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 has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

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).

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

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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 exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. 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.

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Who are ACS Distance Education?

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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.
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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.

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Course Contributors

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

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.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c

John Mason (Horticulturist)

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.





Tutors

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

Lynette Morgan

B. Hort. Tech., Ph.D. in Horticultural Science

Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. 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.

Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt.

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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