Qualification - Certificate In Agriculture

Course CodeVAG001
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours
  • Learn about farming
  • Choose to specialize in areas that are relevant to your needs
  • Improve a farm, Start a farm, Get a job in Agriculture


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate In Agriculture.
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Farm Management BAG104
 Agricultural Marketing BAG304
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 24 modules.
 Soil Management (Agriculture) BAG103
 Animal Behaviour BAG203
 Animal Disease BAG219
 Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202
 Beef Cattle Management BAG206
 Calf Rearing BAG207
 Commercial Vegetable Production BHT222
 Dairy Cattle Management BAG205
 Equine Behaviour BAG216
 Fish Farming & Aquaculture BAG211
 Goat Husbandry BAG223
 Irrigation (Agricultural) BAG213
 Nut Production BHT219
 Pasture Management BAG212
 Pig Husbandry BAG209
 Poultry Husbandry BAG208
 Sheep Husbandry BAG210
 Sustainable Agriculture BAG215
 Agronomy BAG306
 Agronomy II (Growing Grain Crops) BAG309
 Agronomy III (Root Crops) BAG310
 Mushroom Production BHT310
 Organic Agriculture and Farming BAG305
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate In Agriculture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Farm Management

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Strategic Planning - Develop strategic planning methods for an agricultural business.
  2. Business Plans - Learn how to prepare a Farm Business Plan.
  3. Business Assessment - Aim to develop methods for assessing the operations of a Farm Business.
  4. Viability Analysis - Analyse the viability of different production enterprises through assessing profits, risk analysis, cost efficiency, quality standards and financial records.
  5. Management Strategies - Aim to develop strategies for managing different farm production enterprises, covering workplace organisation and crop scheduling.
  6. Human Resources - Plan the management of human resources in a farm business covering supervision, types of leadership/managers, orders & instruction, motivating employees and recruitment.
  7. Physical Resources - Develop methods for managing the physical resources of a farm business including managing equipment, machinery and buildings.
  8. Natural Resources - Develop methods for managing the natural resources of a farm business, covering topics such as regulations & legislation, land space space care programs, erosion control, soil degradation, salinity, soil acidification, chemical residues and compaction.

Agricultural Marketing

This course is comprised of eight lessons, outlined below:

  1. Agricultural Marketing Concepts
  2. Farm Marketing Strategies
  3. Target Marketing
  4. Handling Produce
  5. Customer Relations
  6. Market Research
  7. Promotions
  8. Managing Marketing

Animal Health Care

There are twelve lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Animal Health Care  - To be able to describe the scope of services offered by animal care services, including veterinary practices.
  2. Common Health Problems in farm animals and pets  - Describe common health problems in various animals, including injuries & diseases.......causes of ill health ,problems in family pets
  3. Animal Behaviour - Explain the natural behaviour of different types of domestic animals in different situations.
    • natural behaviour of animals
    • problems in wild animals
    • behaviour in domestic animals
  4. Signs of Ill Health  - Identify common signs of ill health in different animals.
    • vital signs
    • the healthy animal
    • signs & symptoms of disease
    • Diagnosis & control of diseases
  5. Veterinary Facilities  - Describe the purposes of different facilities used in veterinary practice.
    • the first aid kit
    • enclosures for animals
  6. Safety Procedures  - Determine safety procedures for a veterinary practice.
    • workplace safety
    • health & safety for veterinary practices
  7. Administration of Animal Health  - Describe different administration procedures in a veterinary practice.
    • animal insurance
    • legal considerations
    • managing a veterinary office
  8. Animal First Aid  - Describe/select first aid procedures/treatments for different animals in response to common health problems in animals.
    • types of wounds
    • treatments
  9. Preventative Health Care  - Describe requirements for maintaining good health in domestic animals, including nutrition & preventative medicine.
    • preventing ill health
    • vaccinations
  10. Routine Health Treatments - To develop an understanding of routine treatments for healthy animals, desexing, managing a pregnancy, euthanasia
  11. Health Problems in Domestic Pets - To develop an understanding of routine treatments for healthy animals. To develop a broader awareness of health problems and their treatment in domestic pets.
    • ticks
    • Australian animals
    • birds
    • reptiles
    • fish
  12. Rehabilitation Care  - To develop skills in caring for animals prior to, during or after treatment.
    • planning a recovery
    • animal nursing


Livestock, Crops or Both?

The nature of farming has changed in many ways since the 20th century and it continues to change. One major area of change has been the type of livestock or crop being grown on a property.

With changes in marketing opportunities and competition both globally and locally; produce that may have been profitable in the past will sometimes be trending toward being unprofitable in the future. The better farmers are those who are always looking forward, looking for new animal or plant types or breeds to introduce and raise.

For large operations, produce is raised on a large scale and the things that are produced are usually mainstream crops or livestock such as wheat, cotton, rice, cattle, sheep, chickens or pigs.

For smaller operations though; there are very real opportunities to produce something on a smaller scale and capture a niche market. This may be achieved by growing a different breed of a mainstream animal or plant (eg. ancient breeds of wheat or a high demand, different breed of cattle).


Consider Fibre Crops

Large scale fibre production is dominated by cotton, wool and timber. Cotton and wool are used to make fabric. Wood is used not only for construction, but also to make paper. There are many other options to these three crops though. In local niche markets, there are opportunities to produce a fibre crop that is unique and developing a niche market in something other than cotton or wool.

Fibre crops have great potential in many countries. Such crops are grown for the production of ex-tractable cellulose fibres for use in textiles.

Fibre crops have other uses as well though - ropes, threads and twine.

They provide an excellent alternative (a quick growing, renewable crop) to logging of diminishing forests for paper pulp production

With the increasing demand for paper and the reduction in usable wood material suitable for pulping, there is a need to develop non-wood pulp. Asian countries have long recognised the importance of non-wood pulp and many plan to increase production in order to meet the ever increasing demand. 

Crops that can be grown for fibre include:

  • Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus)
  • Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa)
  • Rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea)
  • Abaca (Musa textilis)
  • Jute (Corchorus spp.)
  • Sisal (Agave sisalana)
  • Flax (Linum sp.)
  • Ramie (Boehmeria nivea)
  • Henequen (Agave fourcroydes)
  • Bamboo (Bambusa sp or Sugarcane)
  • Other grasses including wheat, sorghum and rice

Due to expanding production in overseas countries and a high labour requirement, there is probably little potential for jute and abaca in Australia.

Bast fibre comes from the bark component of the stem of jute, kenaf, roselle, sunn hemp, industrial hemp, ramie and flax. Bast fibre is considered the best option for Australian production with the option to export raw material overseas for processing. In time, a pulp processing facility could be built in Australia once production is large enough to support it.
All fibre crops tend to be best grown during summer in the semi-arid and subtropics so that they can be grown quickly enough to harvest prior to flowering. In temperate districts, spring and summer production is recommended. Plant variety and temperature may influence the exact flowering time of the these plants.

Kenaf, roselle and ramie are very adaptable to soil requirements. Sunn hemp prefers well drained soils, either sandy or loamy alluvial.

Hemp is illegal in Australia due to the presence of hallucinogenic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), even though it is present at only 0.35% for industrial hemp. All Australian states presently allow restricted growing of low-THC seed for experimental evaluation. A hemp fibre industry may develop further in Australia if and when restrictions are relaxed. Farmers who remain aware of these developments will be best placed to take advantage of any opportunities that develop. Hemp needs a well drained clay loam or silt loam soil with pH of neutral or slightly alkaline. It is sensitive to drought.

Flax prefers abundant moisture during the growing season which commences in spring. Soil needs to be well drained and slightly acidic to neutral. There is little tolerance to salinity and flax does not have a high nutrient demand.

The perennial Ramie which lives 7-20 years needs about 1000 mm of irrigation spread evenly throughout the year. It prefers a well drained soil, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Rami is usually harvested three times per year by hand, however greater harvesting and yields are obtained under optimum conditions. Optimum yields are produced from plants 3-6 years old.
Sisal and henequen are perennial plants living 6-20 years. Planting rates are usually 1 metre apart in rows 3-4 m apart, carried out prior to commencement of the wet season. Excellent drainage is essential.

All fibre crops have a relatively high demand for weed control and fertiliser.

The optimum time for harvesting all fibre crops is once vegetative growth stops soon after the beginning of flowering. Consequently, a long growing season is important and early flowering is undesirable. Timing flowering to occur at the end of the raining season can maximise production.

Pests and disease seem to be relatively few in Australia compared to some other countries. The newness of these crops in Australia is possible the reason for such few problems. Noted problems include loopers, root knot nematodes and 'kenaf crinkle disease' on kenaf; and lucerne flea and black beetle on hemp.
Traditional harvesting techniques were carried out in countries with abundant and cheap labour. For developed countries like Australia, mechanisation is essential to reduce costs to be competitive in the world market. Recent developments in USA have produced a number of mechanised harvesting systems, that appear very promising.

Market potential
Many non-wood fibres have been successfully used as textiles. As fashion may vary from year to year and demand will vary accordingly, it is important to plan for alternative markets. As Australian demand is perceived as low, it is recommended to use any production for paper pulp or building materials, with textiles as a secondary product.

Pulp and paper production is very successful with kenaf, and exhibits great potential in Australia. Industrial hemp has been estimated as being more expensive than woodchip use, and the need for cutting the fibres into 2.5mm lengths tends to negate the characteristic benefits of longer and stronger fibres.

Kenaf bast fibres could be used for the same application as jute.

Industrial hemp appears to be more expensive than sisal and jute for similar uses due to higher production and preparation costs. As a substitute for fibreglass for reinforcing, industrial hemp is neither cost effective nor uniform in characteristics.


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