Irrigation - Crops

Learn all you need to know about irrigating crops and irrigation systems. Design, maintenance, operation and evaluation of irrigation systems ideal for use with crops.

Course Code: BHT204
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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A course that covers the design, installation, maintenance, operation and evaluation of simple irrigation systems. This course focuses on irrigation systems for row crops (eg. vegetables & cut flowers) and orchards.

“Whilst sharing similarities with other irrigation courses, this highly functional and practical course also has a specific focus on the irrigation of crops. It will be of interest to anyone who grows, or who wishes to grow, crops whether on a large or small scale. All aspects of irrigation from system types and design to pumps and filters are discussed, in light of soil characteristics, drainage, and plant requirements.”  - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
  2. Soil Characteristics And Problems
  3. Estimating Plant And Soil Requirements
  4. Drainage - drainage systems, dams, etc.
  5. Types Of Irrigation Systems
  6. Hydraulics - discharge and flow rates, etc
  7. Pumps And Filters
  8. Selecting The Right System For The Plant
  9. Trickle Irrigation
  10. Design And Operation Of Systems

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

  • Identify and consult appropriate sources of information for the irrigation industry.
  • Explain the significance of soil characteristics to irrigation.
  • Determine when to irrigate in a small scale situation.
  • Explain the drainage aspect of handling water.
  • Explain the operation and selection of irrigation systems.
  • Explain the operation and selection of trickle irrigation systems.
  • Determine specifications for the design of an irrigation system.
  • Explain the pumps and filters needed for handling water adequately for crops.
  • Supervise the installation of an irrigation system.
  • Design and operate an irrigation system for crops.

Choosing an Irrigation System to Suit the Crop

There are many different reasons why we select one irrigation system over another. The money available to set up a system is an obvious consideration, particularly for home gardens, but the cost effectiveness and ease of operation are also of major concern, particularly in commercial situations, or in a parks department where labour costs can be high.

Flood Irrigation

Has been used in orchards in the past extensively.  This method wastes water, but once set up is inexpensive to operate, outside of the cost of water (i.e. low equipment and labour costs).
Flood does not get the foliage of the plant wet.
Flood is thorough, wetting all parts of the ground.

Sprinkler Irrigation
Overhead sprinklers can be used to protect plants from frost, as well as irrigate.  Foliage can stop even distribution of water to some parts of the ground.
Wet fruit can be more susceptible to disease.
Sprinklers are expensive to install and need high pressure (often a pump) to operate.

Trickle Irrigation
Operates on low pressure, directs water to exactly where it is required, overall uses less water than sprinklers or flood.  Does not wet fruit.  Trickle is more effective at disposing (leaching) dangerous salts from the soil.

Your choice of irrigation system will depend on:

  •     Water availability (quantity and quality)
  •     Water pressure
  •     Labour available
  •     Money available to invest in a system
  •     Soil type
  •     Whether disease susceptibility is higher if foliage or fruit are wet
  •     Whether there is a need for frost control


Different Crops have different needs

Every type of crop will have it's own peculiarities with regards to irrigation needs. Adequate and appropriate irrigation for one type of plant may be too little, too much, or inappropriate for another.
Grapes for instance can be adversely affected by too much moisture on fruits, particularly when close to harvest. This can increase the chance of disease, and in turn reduce both the quality and quantity of the crop. For this reason, most parts of the world where vines are grown commercially have a relatively low rainfall (usually less than 700mm annual rainfall).
If an area has very low rainfall in autumn (eg. in parts of Germany), but higher rainfall in summer, vines can be grown quite successfully without irrigation. Drier climates however will need supplementary irrigation to ensure a good commercially viable harvest.

Water management is particularly critical with vines. Too much water can cause just as many problems as too little:

  • Overhead irrigation makes the fruit and foliage wet, and that promotes disease.
  • Rain or overhead watering is more of a problem in hot weather.
  • Flood, drip and other forms of irrigation while not directly wetting the foliage, can increase humidity and may in turn increase disease.
  • Overwet soils starve the vine roots of oxygen, causing an overall deterioration in plant health.
  • Too much water causes more leaf growth, which can shade fruit bunches and reduce both the number of bunches and the quality of wine which can be produced.
  • Water stress (ie. lack of water) must be avoided prior to veraison (Explanation: After flowering, fruit develops in three stages.
  • The first stage involves a burst of fast growth, the second stage is a slow period of growth, and the third stage is a final fast burst of growth. The final stage is called "veraison").
  • Heavy watering to bring the soil to field capacity prior to veraison will usually provide enough water to see the plants through to harvest.
  • Irrigation in very dry climates, or in drought years should usually only be done before veraison.
  • Vines can tolerate high rainfall and excess water in winter while dormant as long as they don't remain waterlogged for an extended period.
  • Water Stress on grapes is indicated by reduced growth, extra short internodes (ie. spaces between the buds on stems or shoots), reduced berry set (ie. young berries drop off), yellowing or dropping of leaves and uneven or imperfect ripening of berries.

WHY DO THIS COURSE?

When you enrol in a course with ACS Distance education you will have the experience and knowledge of industry experts at your finger tips.

This course will help you to gain the findamentals needed to apply irrigation efficiently and effectively.

If you are working in crop farming, looking to work in it or want to start off a an irrigation advisor then this course will help you towards your goals.

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

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

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

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.

ACS is a Preferred Member Training Provider with the Australian Institute of Horticulture. ACS students meeting AIH criteria can join AIH as a Category 2 student member.


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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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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

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Course Contributors

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

Jacinda Cole (Horticulturist)

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer.
She was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up her own landscaping firm. She spent three ye

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has





Tutors

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

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.

Rosemary Davies

B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

Parita Shah

M.Sc Horticulture, B.Sc Horticulture, Cert in Greenhouse management

Parita has a Masters Degree in Horticulture specializing in Plantation, Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic crops and Organic farming. She has worked as a freelance consultant, and in an Avocado nursery in NSW as grafting and preparing avocado clones.

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