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Qualification - Advanced Certificate In Applied Management (Horticultural Technology)

Course CodeVBS001
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate


 "Having completed the Advanced Hydroponics Course, I have since gone on to open my own successful hydroponics retail shop, now in it's third year of trading"

- Ted
This course is designed to fill the gap for those trained and experienced in hydroponics and horticulture but without the experience and knowledge for supervisory or managerial positions in a "specific" industry sector, covering both management and horticultural technology skills (including hydroponic management).
  • Increase your employabilty
  • Learn management skills to complement your industry knowledge
  • Increase profitability by sound and effective management
  • Study from home

This course is written and taught by leading international experts including John Mason, author of Commercial Hydroponics (now in it's 8th printing) and Dr Lyn Morgan, author and commercial hydroponic consultant.

The Advanced Certificate in Applied Management involves the areas of learning:

  • Core Studies - five units of compulsory subjects for all students. This involves 400 hours.
  • Elective Studies- stream units for the development of knowledge in a chosen specialisation or industry sector. This involves 300 hours of study.
  • Project - a "management in the workplace project" of 200 hrs involving approved work experience in a small business. The project specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.

All four of these modules must be studied and passed.

1. Office practices VBS102

Develops basic office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems (telephone, fax, etc) and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc.

2. Business operations VBS006

Develops knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (eg. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan.

3.  Management BHT203

Develops knowledge of management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety.

4. Marketing BHT304

Develops a broad understanding of marketing and specific skills in writing advertisements, undertaking market research, developing an appropriate marketing plan and selling.



There are ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. How a Plant Grows
  3. Hydroponic Systems
  4. Nutrition & Nutrition management
  5. Plant Culture
  6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production
  7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production
  8. Solid Media vs Nutrient Film
  9. Greenhouse Operation & Management
  10. Special Assignment


There are eleven lessons in this module as follows:

  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


There are seven lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Structures for Protected Cropping
  2. Environmental Control
  3. Cladding Materials and their Properties
  4. Irrigation and Nutrition
  5. Relationship between Production techniques and Horticultural practices
  6. Harvest and Post Harvest Technology
  7. Risk Assessment


This is normally done after completing all of the other modules. It is intewnded as a "learning experience" that brings a perspective and element of reality to the Modules you have studied. The school is very flexible in terms of how you achieve this requirement, and can negotiate to approve virtually any situation which can be seen as "learning through involvement in real life situations that have a relevance to your studies"

Some of the options, for example might be:


Option 1. Work Experience

This involves working in a job that has relevance to what you have been studying. For some students this may be a job they already have. (In some instances, credit may be even granted for work prior to studies). In other instances, this may be either paid or voluntary work which is found and undertaken after completing the other modules. Proof must be provided, and normally this is done by submitting one or more references or statements from an employer. It may also be satisfied by a discussion between the employer and the school in person or on the phone. The must be an indication that you have skills and an awareness of your industry, which is sufficient for you to work in a position of responsibility.

Option 2. Project

This project may be based on applications in the work place and specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.


Students will design this project in consultation with a tutor to involve industry based activities in the area of specialized study which they select to follow in the course. The project outcomes may take the form of a written report, folio, visuals or a mixture of forms. Participants with relevant, current or past work experience will be given exemption from this project if they can provide suitable references from employers that show they have already fulfilled the requirements of this project.


Students will be assessed on how well they achieve the goals and outcomes they originally set as part of their negotiations with their tutor. During a project, students will present three short progress reports. These progress reports will be taken into account when evaluating the final submission. The tutor must be satisfied that the work submitted is original.


Other Options

Workplace learning hours may also be satisfied through attending or being involved with meetings conducted by industry bodies such as professional associations; or attending seminars which are attended by industry professionals. Any opportunity for observation and networking may be seen as a valid option.

Are You Suited to the Complexities of Hydroponic Growing? 
Hydroponics is a complex growing system requiring sophistication in all facets of the system to achieve optimum production and return on investment. Attention to controllable factors such as heating, cooling, light, humidity, nutrition, and CO2 levels will generally lead to more efficient and economic production. An extensive range of equipment is available to control the growing environment.
Factors that influence plant growth include:
1. Atmospheric Temperature   the air
2. Root Zone Temperature   in the soil or hydroponic media which the plant roots are growing in.
3. Water Temperature   the water which you irrigate the plants with.
4. Light Conditions   shaded, full light, dark.
5. Atmospheric gas   plants give off oxygen but take in carbon dioxide.  Animals do the reverse. Normally they balance each other, but when plants are locked in a closed room or house by themselves, they become starved for carbon dioxide as the oxygen level in the 'room' rises.
6. Air movement   mixes gases, evens out temperature.
7. Atmospheric Moisture   humidity
8. Root Zone Moisture   water levels in the soil or media.
Each year with new research and technology, the greenhouse system is becoming more complex. To effectively manage the interior environment within the greenhouse consideration must be given to a range of factors including:
  • Temperature
  • Irrigation
  • Shading -both natural and with blinds/curtains
  • Light-including supplemented light if needed
  • Levels of CO2
  • Mist/fogging.
Sophisticated monitoring and control systems such as analogue controls, thermostats and computerised environmental management equipment are often used in large set-ups to enable the grower to accomplish the monitoring process.  
Example: Controlling Watering
If intermittent sprays of water mist can be applied to the top of plants, then a temperature differential will develop between the root and leaf zones. If the root zone can be kept warmer than the leaf zone there will be a tendency towards greater growth in the root zone. In other words the warmest part of the plant will grow the fastest. In addition the increased humidity created by the misting reduces water loss from the cutting. Misting systems generally have a solenoid valve between the water source and the misting system. To make sure that cuttings will never dry out this will remain open. When electricity is applied the valve is closed and water is shut off. The solenoid valves are generally controlled by: 
a) Simple timers: which will turn the system on to give a short pulse of water (e.g. for 15 seconds) at regular intervals (e.g. 2-5 minutes). Intervals can vary according to season, local conditions, type of plants grown, etc. This type of control is very dependable and can be used to control a lot of individual systems at the one time. Their major disadvantage is that they do not respond to fluctuations in local environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, light intensity. etc). 
b) Some sort of sensor: such as a pair of carbon electrodes set in an ebonite block (known as electronic leaf or carbon block sensor) placed under the mist with the cuttings. As the top of the block dries, the current between the sensors is broken. This causes a solenoid valve to open releasing water into the misting system. The mist then settles on the sensor connecting the electric circuit, which in turn closes the solenoid valve cutting off the water supply. Another common sensor is the screen balance (or balance arm) control, which has a small stainless steel screen on one end of a balance arm or level to which is attached a mercury switch. When the mist is activated, water lands on the screen which causes it to drop. This trips the mercury switch which turns off a solenoid causing it to close. When water evaporates off the screen it raises causing the mercury switch to connect turning on the solenoid and so releasing water. The screen balance should be placed in a position where it will not be affected by wind. Salt deposits and algal growth can affect the balance of the screen, so a regular cleaning program should be carried out. This type of sensor is commonly used in areas where there are considerable fluctuations in conditions during the day.
c) Computers: controlled systems that monitor a wide range of environmental variables are increasingly being used in some countries to control misting. 
The mist droplet size should ideally be in the vicinity of 50 to 100micrometres (0.002 - 0.004 inches) diameter. The type of spray nozzle selected will govern this. 

Career Opportunities

Study alone can never guarantee career success; but a good education is an important starting point.

Success in a career depends upon many things (eg. Whether you seek to start your own business, seek employment in another commercial enterprise, or persue an academic career) . A course like this is an excellent starting point because it provides a foundation for continued learning, and the means of understanding and dealing with issues you encounter in the workplace.

When you have completed an ACS course, you will have not only learnt about the subject, but you will have been prompted to start networking with experts in the discipline and shown how to approach problems that confront you in this field.

This and every other industry in today’s world is developing in unforeseen ways; and while that is unsettling for anyone who wants to be guaranteed a particular job at the end of a particular course; for others, this rapidly changing career environment is offering new and exciting opportunities almost every month.

If you want to do the best that you can in this industry, you need to recognise that the opportunities that confront you at the end of a course, are probably different to anything that has even been thought of when you commence a course.


All of the courses mentioned above can be studied as standalone modules. But other courses that may interest you are -

Meet some of our academics

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; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS 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 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.

Check out our eBooks

Commercial HydroponicsLearn to grow vegetables, fruit, cut flowers, herbs and other plants hydroponically. A classic, republished with new images, a new layout and revised text. Contains unique advice on growing 102 different plants hydroponically! 74 pages
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more. This book has nine chapters covering the following topics: an introduction to herbs, cultivation, propagation, pest and diseases, herb gardens, an A-Z plant directory, using herbs, features for herb gardens, herbs in pots - 113 colour photos 61 pages
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages