Qualification - Certificate In Alternative Farming

Course CodeVSS003
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours


The world needs more food!
The human population continues to increase every year, and at the same time, our capacity to produce food keeps being eroded. The rapid expansion of industry in China (late 20th century). may have increased wealth and living standards; but studies have shown around 18% of agricultural land in China has been contaminated to the point of no longer being able to grow food safely. Other countries may not be degrading their land as fast; but there is a clear trend everywhere in the wrong direction.
Sustainable farming is set to become a boom industry in the future; if not by choice -out of necessity.
This course sets you up with a foundation to be part of the next agricultural revolution!
Agriculture has seen massive changes in most developed countries over recent decades due to changes in global economics, technology and environmental concerns. This course provides an foundation for dealing with those changes, whether on your own farm or to gain a broader understanding of new and alternative farming techniques. 



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate In Alternative Farming .
 Sustainable Farming (Agriculture) BAG215
 Organic Farming Practices BAG305
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 4 of the following 16 modules.
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Commercial Organic Vegetable Growing VHT241
 Cut Flower Production BHT221
 Fruit Production -Temperate Climate BHT218
 Fruit Production -Warm Climate BHT217
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Greenhouse Cut Flowers VHT239
 Hydroponic Management - Hydroponics II BHT213
 Nut Production BHT219
 Viticulture BHT220
 Aquaponics BHT319
 Berry Production BHT309
 Cut Flower Bulbs BHT317
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
 Hydroponics III BHT319
 Mushroom Production BHT310

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

How to Keep a Farm Going

In todays world it is a challenge for any farm to remain viable, while they keep doing things the same way they always did them.  It is an inescapable fact that the world has changed, and keeps changing (if not daily, at least monthly)
This presents a clallenge to any business; not the least farming. It also presents opportunities as well.

  • Farms that do not change, tend to get into more and more trouble.
  • Farms that make the wrong changes, can get into trouble even faster
  • Farms that make the right changes are in the minority; but those farms are actually improving in every sense, while their competitors degrade. 
Look After the Land, the Produce, the People and the Money
A sustainable farm needs to be managed in a way that sustains the wellbeing of everything on the farm. It is a mistake to only focus on finance for instance and neglect the land; or only focus on producing good crops or livestock; and neglect other things.

The Land
If the land is kept healthy, it will keep producing indefinitely. To do this, you must know your land, water and soil resources, and the plants and animals it sustains. All of these things interact to make up an ecosystem that needs to remain in balance. If you over use or poorly manage any aspect of your land, it will impact upon other aspects.

The People
Many farms are family enterprises. For a farm is to remain sustainable, it must offer some worthwhile reasons for the people to remain involved. If new generations are going to abandon the farm; that fact must be recognised and acknowledged. If they are going to inherit the farm, there must be an orderly transition of ownership.

Crops and Livestock
Do not overstock; as this can cause a slow degradation of the land and the financial worth of a farm. Do not persist with farming a type of crop or animal that is unprofitable or less profitable. Always be ready to change what you are growing, and how you are growing it.

Do not live beyond your means; and do not farm beyond your means. It costs money to not only plant a crop or buy livestock, but there are always ongoing costs involved before you can harvest anything and gert a financial return.

How to Manage Water Resources on a Farm

Managing the water resources of a property is becoming increasingly significant. An increasing population, and a decline in the quality of available water (e.g. increased sediment due to erosion, increased nutrient levels, other chemical impurities, etc.), has meant increased demand on our water supplies. In Australia, which is to a large extent arid to semi-arid, and has generally low fertility levels in it's soils, managing water, and the nutrients it may contain, to ensure it is used effectively, for both production and environmental purposes has become critical to the long term viability of our agricultural land.

Runoff is the term applied to the movement of water (especially rain) when flooding occurs. In the process of moving towards the line of least resistance the water builds up speed and begins to eat away at surface soil. Runoff can be controlled with a number of strategies:-

Cultivating on the contour
This refers to cultivating with the contour of the land rather than across the slope. By doing this, water is slowed down by the ploughed ridges giving it more time to soak into the ground.

Building contour banks
Again these should be designed to follow the land contour. Their purpose is to direct the flow of water into grassed waterways which can slow its movement down slope considerably reducing erosion, and carry the water to catchment areas such as creeks and dams without the loss of soil. This can be an effective way of catching runoff and directing it to a suitable storage site (dam) for later use. The grass will reduce the speed at which water flows over the ground, hence reducing erosion.

Strip cropping
The purpose of strip cropping is to spread flowing water. This tends to restrict erosion damage as the water cannot build up in volume and hence speed as it is dispersing. The slower movement of water allows more time for it to infiltrate into the soil, where it can be utilised by the plants growing there. 

Managing Plants can be Complex
Amongst one of the most significant reasons for land degradation is the practice of clearing indigenous vegetation from the land, predominantly to provide grazing for cattle and sheep and areas for cropping. Agriculture is an important primary industry, which is largely responsible for feeding world populations, and as a result, the economic prosperity for many nations. It has taken the very real threat of reduced yields, and such things as reduction in water quality, to provide the impetus for major land rehabilitation initiatives.
Trees (and associated understorey plantings) are seen as an integral part of a healthy environment, and it is for that reason that tree planting operations (to rehabilitate degraded land as well as prevent further damage) are being actively encouraged, by government, industry and community organisations. 
Maintaining the Sustainability of a Farm can indeed be Complicated
It may take a lifetime of study, innovation and experience to understand the task fully; but that task does become easier when you have a foundation upon which to build that understanding. This course will help you to build that foundation.
OTHER ELECTIVES -Other options including Poultry, Goats and Aquaculture may be available as options for electives in this certificate

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