Qualification - Advanced Certificate In Applied Management (Horticultural Technology)

Course CodeVBS001
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Management and Technology are the Future for Horticulture

Being able to grow good plants used to be all you needed to reach the top of your game in horticulture, but today's world is a very different world. 
  • Change is the norm - driven by new technologies that emerge every year  
  • Understanding and being aware of new technologies is critical to success
  • Being able to select and appropriately manage the business of horticulture is equally important.
This course is practical and focussed on things that make the biggest difference to success, productivity and for a business: profit!
It is far more than a theoretical study. It is designed by successful horticulturists, scientists and managers as a learning pathway that takes you through a sequence of learning experiences:
  • Exploring the possibilities for working in horticultural technologies
  • Expanding your perspective on what might be possible
  • Building your networking
  • Developing a foundation for understanding technological applications that you encounter after finishing your studies.
Horticultural technology is a world full of possibilities - provided you learn to select and apply technology appropriately as an aid to growing plants more effectively and in doing so improving the efficiency and productivity of a job.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Advanced Certificate In Applied Management (Horticultural Technology).
 Business Operations VBS006
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Management VBS105
 Marketing Foundations VBS109
 Office Practices VBS102
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 8 modules.
 Machinery and Equipment BSC105
 Engineering Applications BSC205
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Hydroponic Management - Hydroponics II BHT213
 Hydroponics I BHT224
 Aquaponics BHT319
 Hydroponics III BHT319
 Tissue Culture BHT306

Note that each module in the Qualification - Advanced Certificate In Applied Management (Horticultural Technology) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Hydroponics involves growing plants without soil; but it is different to tissue culture in that the plants have fully differentiated tissues (i.e. stems, roots and leaves) from the start; and the plants are larger and more able to grow without the level of protection and human intervention provided for tissue culture in a laboratory.

Both tissue culture and hydroponics share one thing in common – the grower is taking control over supplying nutrients to the plant. In doing so, the grower has the potential to manage the plant growth more effectively that what is possible when growing is soil.

Every plant species is different. The optimum nutrition required by each type of plant will be different. The nutrients made available by soil, or plant feeding can have a big impact on the status of a plant in many different respects:

  • Vigour
  • Tolerance to different types of adversity (eg. environmental extremes, disease)
  • Type of growth (eg. fruit, flower, foliage, roots)
  • The quantities of different chemicals found in the plant tissues

The nutrients which a plant absorbs and incorporates into its tissues will affect its chemical composition. Food crops can be more or less nutritious. Plants may develop more or less of one type of tissue.

How Plants Absorb and Use Nutrients in Hydroponics
Grown in soil, plants either source the nutrients they need from decomposed organic matter or by added fertiliser or both as described earlier. Decomposed organic matter is broken down by microorganisms into its elemental form and is comprised of a range of minerals needed in order for plants to grow.  The elements made available through the activity of microorganisms and other soils life are absorbed by the plant’s roots (as described earlier), but this absorption cannot occur without the presence of water; available nutrients need to be dissolved in water in order for a plant to uptake them. The same applies to added fertiliser – fertiliser is applied to improve the activity of soil microorganisms which break it down so that it can be used by plants. Fertiliser however needs to be added to soils in controlled amounts because too much fertiliser adversely affects the activity of (or may cause the death of) microorganisms.  

In hydroponics you circumvent the activity of soil microorganisms: firstly because you are growing the plants in a sterile, soilless medium and secondly because the hydroponic nutrients you supply are already dissolved in water and are much more directly absorbed by plants’ roots.  In hydroponics nutrients can be are added in far higher concentration than soil fertiliser because there are no microorganisms that need to be protected.

For the reasons described above you therefore cannot use fertiliser in a hydroponic system and you also should never use a hydroponic solution on garden soil.

Tissue Culture

Tissue culture is a method of propagating and growing plants from small pieces of tissue, sometimes so small that magnification is necessary when handling the small pieces of tissue. The tissue used does not contain roots, stems and leaves. It may contain only cells from a root, from a stem, from a leaf, or it may contain undifferentiated meristematic tissue (like stem cells from a human). Plants cultivated this way will require both a mixture of nutrients to feed them and other chemical additives: vitamins, carbon, sometimes hormones (growth regulators to encourage cell differentiation) sometimes specific reagents to restrict growth; to stimulate them to grow all the different types of cells needed to become a complete plant (i.e. roots, stems and leaves). This makes the culture medium and medium formula used the most crucial aspects successful tissue culture; the medium formulae vary depending on the purpose of the tissue culture. Because a plant grown this way is incomplete, and very tiny it is particularly vulnerable to diseases; hence it needs to be grown under laboratory conditions until it is large enough to resist disease, absorb nutrients through developing roots and continue to grow without a high level of assistance.

Developing Engineering Solutions in Horticulture

The task of making a production operation or any operation run more efficiently involves: understanding the processes that must take place - their level of importance to the overall operation and the possible alternatives that could perhaps be implemented instead. It also requires an open mind to potentialities that might at first seem unlikely options or have perhaps never been tried in that particular operation before.

Generally, there will always be more than one possible engineering solution to any given problem. The kind of factors that will be important to the final decision will include things such as cost, durability, complexity, implementation time-scale, or changeover period. Obviously, if an idea is not practical it will be discarded, however sometimes an idea which isn't initially appropriate can be manipulated to fit the problem with a little thought. The main thread here is - don't dismiss something until you’re completely sure of its unsuitability.
A plant nursery can be either of a retail or wholesale type. While they both are in the business of selling plants, the work processes involved vary accordingly. A wholesale nursery sells plants to a retail outlet which in turn sells to the general public. Therefore, as a general guide, the wholesale nursery is involved in propagation and nurturing techniques. A typical work procedure that could be refined or honed to its utmost effectiveness might be the placing of cuttings into tubes (very small pots which are approx. 6cm X 3cm) or liners as they are sometimes called. This task requires a number of steps to complete.
These steps should be detailed or noted:
  • Are there tasks that could be handled at the same time as one another?
  • Does the layout of the nursery slow down certain procedures? For example, are the primary greenhouses (where plants are initially kept after being potted) close or convenient to the potting shed?
  • Are the tertiary houses near to the dispatch area?
Little things like these which are only small percentage type problems can add up to rather large improvements. A retail operation might place stock into more ornamental pots (i.e. re-potting). It might also if business is brisk look into refining the processing of sales, detail staff procedure when dealing with clients, or book work perhaps. One of the reasons that engineering is viewed as an exciting career is the unlimited and undiscovered solutions that often exist to a single problem. As technology advances it can make previous solutions outdated or inefficient. Not all solutions need be of a high tech nature either but might merely require that a different perspective be placed upon the problem in order to find the most applicable solution.

Lateral thinking processes require that a problem be tackled from all angles and that all possibilities are entertained. Nothing is too ridiculous to propose in the planning stage although if time and money is being heavily invested then a line should probably be drawn.



This course is unique:
  • For anyone not already involved in horticulture; it can give you skills that are all too often lacking in the horticulture workplace; and that will strengthen your career prospects.
  • If you already know how to grow; but are struggling to advance your prospects; this course offers an opportunity to fill the gaps in your knowledge, that may well make a big difference to your future.



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