Organic Agriculture and Farming

Course CodeBAG305
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • Learn to farm organically.
  • Work on a farm, start a farm, improve a farm, or work in a farm supply or service business.

Organic farming is a boom industry in western countries, and is one of the fastest growing sector of the economy; outstripping everything from mining to tourism and banking to retailing.

Everyone knows that more sustainable farming practices are needed to ensure a future in global agriculture; and organic methods are central to solutions being pursued by many farms



Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Organic Farming
    • scope
    • nature
    • history
    • types of organic farming
  2. Integrated Farm Management Systems
    • rotation design
    • cash crops
    • managing waste
    • permaculture
    • polyculture
    • biodynamics etc
  3. Organic Management Issues
    • certification
    • environmental concerns
    • marketing
    • PR
  4. Organic Soil Management and Crop Nutrition
    • composting
    • mulching
    • green manuring
    • cover crops
    • organic fertilisers
  5. Weed Management
    • selecting appropriate techniques of control
    • weed identification
  6. Pest and Disease Management
    • Animals
    • Plants
  7. Livestock Management I
    • Beef
    • Dairy
    • Sheep
    • Pigs
  8. Livestock Management II
    • Poultry
    • Goats
    • Alpacas
    • Ostriches
    • Deer
  9. Pasture
    • Pasture Varieties
    • Management Principles
    • Intensive systems
    • nitrogen fixation
    • correct seed mix
    • risks with legumes
  10. Crops
    • Wheat
    • Plant Fibre
    • Hay and Silage
    • Mung Beans
    • Sesame seed, etc


  • Discuss the scope and nature of organic farming in today’s world.
  • Select appropriate organic management systems for different organic farms.
  • Understand the environmental, economic and political issues concerning organic farming.
  • Explain the role of living organisms and decomposing organic matter in creating and maintaining an appropriate soil condition for successful organic farming.
  • Contrive and apply appropriate weed management practices for an organic farm.
  • Select and apply appropriate pest and disease management practices for both animal and plant production on an organic farm
  • Design an appropriate system for organic production of cattle, sheep and pigs.
  • Design an appropriate system for organic production of poultry and other miscellaneous animals.
  • Design an appropriate system for organic pasture management.
  • Explain the broad-acre organic production of a grain or legume crop.

What You Will Do

  • Investigate Organic industry such as, Certifying Organisations, Producers or organic farming groups in your locality or region
  • Determine allowable inputs to an organic farm certifying in your area
  • Discuss how an organic farm requires more labour than a conventional farm
  • Visit an organic farm, either a real visit or virtual visit if that is not possible
  • Prepare a plan for an organic farm.
  • Describe the conversion process for one of the organic farms
  • Investigate organic market potential
  • Make compost
  • Prepare a diagram of a healthy soil food web
  • Prepare a weed collection of reviews and either pressings, photos or drawings
  • Determine appropriate weed control within allowable organic farming limits.
  • Describe the life cycle of three animal parasites
  • Describe habitat requirements of various predatory insects
  • Survey one or more farms regarding animal production systems
  • How can the animals above be integrated into a vegetable or fruit production system
  • Determine organic solutions to different farming problems
  • Investigate different pasture management systems.

Organic Farming is Becoming Mainstream

In the past organic farm production was often considered as being only for radicals or hippies. Now it is seen as a viable economic move - with benefits to the farm soil, to the environment, and to the purchasers of the products. An organic approach can contribute toward making a farm more financially viable in several ways:

  • First, it is a low input way of farming. You do not need to invest so much money in expensive chemicals and fertilisers. Any declines in initial production are balanced against these reduced costs.
  • Second, it is less likely to result in land degradation than many other production methods; hence the long term cost of sustaining production is less.
  • Thirdly, public demand for organic produce has markedly increased over recent years.

To be recognised as being an organic producer you need to abide by guidelines that are set by various bodies in different countries. Guidelines exist for vegetables, fruit, meat, etc. For contact details look in the directory at the rear of this book.

One of the problems with marketing organic produce, particularly fruit and vegetables, is that most people believe that slightly blemished looking produce indicates that it is of poorer quality. However, as organic produce has become more readily available, and more widely marketed, the public are becoming more aware that such superficial blemishes do not indicate poor quality, but in many cases may indicate better flavour.

Consumers will often pay a higher price for organic produce, than non-organic produce. Consequently profits can be improved. However, it should be noted that without good cultural knowledge of the crops/animals a farmer is producing, serious losses can occur.

Organic farming is not a 'lazy farmers' technique. A lot of work is involved in utilising integrated pest management and hygiene above and beyond most normal farm enterprises. Once an organic production management system is in place, however, and operating, it tends to stabilise over a period of time, and becomes easier to manage.  

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.
  • Minimising 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, intercropping, crop rotation and mechanical or heat-based weed control. Pests and diseases are tackled with naturally-produced sprays and biological controls (eg. predatory mites). Organic farmers generally avoid the use of inorganic fertilisers and synthetic chemical herbicides, growth hormones and synthetic pesticides.

Who Will Teach You
All of our Tutors are highly experienced and well qualified. Click here to meet our Tutors.

 Would you Like More Information?

Additional Reference

An ideal complementary reference is the book Sustainable Agriculture 2nd edition, written by our principal John Mason, and published by Landlinks Press (A division of CSIRO).

Click here to view an outline or to order a copy of this book

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