Plant Health (Horticulture III)

Course CodeBHT116
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Distance Learning Course -Learn about Plant Pest and Disease, and Maintaining Good Plant Health

A foundation course for all gardeners and horticulturists

  • Learn to identify pests and diseases
  • Learn to avoid pests and diseases
  • Learn to Manage Pest and Disease in Plants

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Pests
    • Diseases
    • Common terminology
    • Diagnosing problems systematically
    • Tell tale symptoms
    • Conducting an inspection: four steps
    • Pest or disease reviews
  2. Overview of Preventative Controls
    • Introduction
    • Methods of pest management
    • Integrated pest management
    • Cultural control
    • Using disease resistant varieties
    • Crop rotation
    • Timed planting
    • Mulching
    • Cleanliness
    • Biological control
    • Types of biological controls
    • Beneficial plants
    • Trap or decoy plants
    • Pheromone traps
    • Physical controls
    • Traps
    • REpellants
    • Mulching
    • Pruning
    • Wounds
    • Chemical controls
    • Understanding pesticides
    • Safely storing chemicals
    • Safely mixing chemicals
    • Legalities
    • Plant breeding for resistance
    • Sources and causes of resistance
    • Adaptability, resistance and pest variability
  3. Insecticides
    • Types of insecticides: systemich, stomach poisons, contact poisons, etc
    • Inorganics, botanicals, organophosphates, carbamates, synthetic pyrethroids
    • Characteristics of insecticides: toxicity, spectrum, LD50, persistence, volatility, etc.
    • Golden rules for handling pesticides
    • Terminology
  4. Other Pesticides
    • Chemical Pesticides: introduction
    • Review of common pesticides
    • Soil treatment for control of diseases
    • Soil pests
    • Types of fumigtants
    • Systemic fungicides
    • Comparative toxicities
  5. Spray Equipment
    • Types of sprayers
    • Uses of sprayers
    • Spray terminology
    • Sprayer maintenance and cleaning
    • Selecting a sprayer
    • Calibration
    • Using chemicals: agitation, clean up and disposal
    • Basic first aid with chemical pesticides
    • Response to liquid or powder spills
    • Keeping records
    • Misters, Dusters, Blowers
    • Pesticides and the environment
  6. Insect Biology
    • Insect classification: orders, sub classes
    • Insect anatomy: mouthparts, legs, etc
    • Lifecycle
    • Feeding habits
    • Practical project: Insect collecting, preserving, identifying, for an insect collection
    • Common insects that a gardener encounters
    • Ants
    • Aphis
    • Beetles
    • Borers
    • Bugs
    • Caterpillars
    • Cockroaches
    • Crickets
    • Earwigs
    • Fleas
    • Flies
    • Galls (caused by insects)
    • Grasshoppers
    • Ladybirds (good and bad)
    • Leaf hoppers
    • Leaf miners
    • Lerps
    • Mealy bug
    • Mosquitos
    • Scale insects
    • Termites
    • Thrips
    • Wasps
    • Whitefly
  7. Fungal Biology
    • What causes disease
    • Symptoms of disease
    • Lifecycle of a disease: inoculation, penetration, infection, growth and reproduction, dissemination
    • Fungi groups: obligate saprophytes, obligate parasites, facultative saprophytes, facultative parasites
    • Expanded concept of tree decay
    • Chemical pesticides in the UK and Europe
    • Common diseases
    • Anthracnose
    • Bitter pit
    • Blights
    • Botrytis
    • Canker
    • Cinnamon fungus
    • Club root
    • Damping off
    • Galls
    • Gummosis
    • Leaf curl
    • Leaf spot
    • Melanose
    • Mildews
    • Rots
    • Rust
    • Scab
    • Silver leaf
    • Spot
    • Smut
    • Sooty mould
    • Wilts
  8. Environmental Problems
    • Common environmental problems
    • Foliage burns
    • Pollution
    • Lack of water
    • Drainage problems
    • Frost
    • Hail
    • Shade
    • Temperature
    • Wind
    • Symptoms of nutritional deficiencies
    • Air pollution
    • The plant and water
    • Non parasitic problems in turf (lawns)
    • Ways to provide environmental protection to plants
  9. Viruses
    • Overview
    • Symptoms
    • Detection and diagnosis of viruses
    • Control
    • Examples of virus diseases
  10. Nematodes, Molluscs and Crustaceans
    • Overview
    • Millipedes
    • Plant nematodes
    • Nematodes in citrus
    • Red spider mites
    • Spiders
    • Slaters or wood lice
    • Snails and slugs

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 the characteristics of pests and diseases of plants.
  • Explain methods for the control of pests and diseases.
  • Describe the characteristics of a range of different pesticides, including insecticides
    • and fungicides.
  • Explain the selection and use of spray equipment appropriate for different
    • specified tasks.
  • Describe aspects of the biology of an insect which are relevant to pest control.
  • Describe aspects of the biology of an fungus which are relevant to disease control.
  • Explain how inappropriate environmental conditions can affect plant health.
  • Identify the characteristic signs of a range of non-insect pests,
    • and select apropriate control methods.

What You Will Do

  • Develop a checklist for determining the significance of pests and diseases, which addresses different criteria including:
    • short term impact
    • long term impact
    • economic impact
    • aesthetic impact.
  • Distinguish between the main types of plant diseases, including:
    • fungal
    • viral
    • bacterial.
    • Create a standard worksheet for reviewing pest and disease problems of plants.
  • Diagnose different problems (ie. pests or diseases), documenting the problem on a standard pest/disease review worksheet.
  • Describe different ways to control pests and diseases, including:
    • Application of chemicals
    • Plant selection
    • Companion planting
    • Cultural techniques (i.e. improving ventilation, improving drainage)
    • Physical control (i.e. pruning, hand removal, trapping, hosing off).
  • Explain how plant breeding has been used to improve pest/disease resistance in different plant species.
  • Explain three biological control methods for dealing with specific problems.
  • Develop an IPM strategy for a specific situation such as a crop or garden, considering:
    • application procedures, remedial action and monitoring.
  • Describe plant hygiene practices for a specific situation such as a crop, nursery or garden, in line with industry practice, enterprise guidelines and sound management practice.
  • Recommend control methods for different pest and/or disease problems diagnosed.
  • List safety procedures to follow when handling pesticides.
  • Distinguish between the main groups of pesticides, including:
    • organo-phosphates
    • synthetic pyrethroids
    • carbamates
    • chlorinated hydrocarbons.
  • Explain the difference between the action of systemic and non-systemic pesticides.
  • Explain maintenance practices, including cleaning, for a specified sprayer.
  • List different uses for several types of sprayers, including a motorised pump sprayer, a knapsack and a PTO driven tractor mounted sprayer.
  • Compare different sprayers, in terms of:
    • cost
    • applications
    • maintenance
    • spare parts
    • ease of use
    • safety.
  • Explain the application of chemicals in a given situation, including:
    • Calibration
    • Mixing chemicals
    • Equipment operation
    • Safety measures
    • Post spray procedures such as cleaning, and storage of chemicals).
  • Describe the minimum records which should be kept when spraying pesticides.
  • Prepare a labelled diagram showing the structural parts of an insect.
  • Prepare an insect collection of different insects of significance to agriculture or horticulture.
  • Identify to genus level, the insects collected.
  • Compare the structural differences between different types of insects.
  • Describe the life-cycle of an insect species.
  • Explain how an understanding of insect life-cycle can be applied to pest control.
  • Describe the life-cycle of a fungal disease species.
  • Explain the physiology of tree decay processes, including compartmentalisation.
  • Explain aspects of fungal biology, for different types of fungi, which are of horticultural significance, including:
    • Phytophthora
    • Sclerotinia rot
    • Peach leaf curl (Taphrina deformens)
    • Powdery Mildew
    • Pythium.
  • List environmental problems which affect plant health and their symptoms.
  • Describe the affect of air pollution on different plants.
  • Identify nutritional deficiency symptoms in specified situations.
  • Develop a fertiliser program in response to a specified nutritional problem.
  • Distinguish between the affects of water deficiency and water excess on plant health.
  • Explain how to diagnose damage by various non-insect pest problems, including:
    • Nematodes
    • Slugs and snails
    • Mites
    • Millipedes
    • Larger animals such as rabbits, possums or birds.
  • Explain how to control different non-insect pests with both chemical and non-chemical methods.

It can be like Learning a Whole New Language

Part of learning about plant health involves learning the words that are used to describe problems with plants. Here are some examples:

 

Rot

Decomposition or decay of dead tissue

Spot

Well defined grey or brown dead tissue surrounded by purplish margins (or margins of some other dark colour).

Shot Hole

Dead tissue in a spot cracks and falls, leaving a hole in the leaf

Blotch

Where fungal growth appears on the surface of a dead spot

Blight

Quick death of complete parts of a plant. The disease pathogen develops very quickly e.g. leaves die & fall.

Wilting

Drooping of leaves and/or stems

Scorch

Similar to blight but leaf veins are not affected. Leaf tissue dies between the veins, or along the margins.

Scald

Whitening of surface (or near surface) cell layer on fruit or leaves.

Blast

Unopened buds or flowers die suddenly.

 

Die Back

Death of growing tips, moving down through the plant (i.e. the terminal buds die, then the stems below them die, then parts below that die) Die back can occur to part of the plant, or in severe cases can continue moving through the plant right to the roots.

Damping Off

Sudden wilting & falling over of young plants, due to tissue being attacked by fungal disease near the soil line.

Mummification

Diseased fruit dries up, becoming wrinkled and hardened as it shrinks.

Canker

Death of a restricted area of woody tissue ‑ usually a callus of healthy growth forms around the edge of the canker.

 

Bleeding

A substance is exuded from a diseased part of the wood, where the exudation is not resinous or gummy.

Gummosis

Bleeding where the exudation is resinous or gummy (Gummosis is called resinosis on conifers).

Firing

Leaves suddenly dry, collapse & die.

ROSETTING

Spaces between leaves on stem do not develop....buds & leaves become squashed together all within a short section of stem.

MOSAIC

Mottling of yellow & green on leaf surfaces.

DWARFING

Plants not growing to full size.

FASCIATION

Round plant parts such as stems become distorted & turn broad & flattened.

 

It can be Easier than You Think

Once you get a handle on the terminology; and the fact that there is in fact a system to identifying plant problems; it can become a lot easier than what you might have thought to inspect a plant, identify a problem, and decide on a reasonable course of action.

This course will enable you to do just that:

  • inspect a plant,
  • identify a problem,
  • decide on a reasonable course of action.

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