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Agronomy

Course CodeBAG306
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Agronomy Courses.

Agronomists are in short supply!

Improve your crops and growing capacity with this course on agronomy. Covering important broad acre crops such as sorghum, triticale and maize, this course is an excellent gateway into better growing practices and potential new markets.

 

In this course, you'll build a solid foundation in the principles and practices underpinning broad acre crop production. You'll also study:

  • Influences on crop growth
  • Good crop husbandry practices
  • Seed management
  • Arable cereal and broadleaf crops
  • Harvesting

 

You'll also develop your ability to interpret and apply information practically,for farms and other agricultural applications. The course culminates in a Problem-Based Learning Project, to help cement your learning.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. INTRODUCTION TO AGRONOMIC PRACTICES
    • Introduction
    • Crop Types
    • Plant structure and Function
    • Transpiration rate
    • Selection Criteria for Plants
    • Understanding monoculture
    • Row Crops
    • Cover Crops
    • Crop Operations
    • Planter types
  2. CULTURE - WHAT INFLUENCES CROP GROWTH
    • Soils
    • Problems with soils
    • Loss of soil problems
    • Erosion
    • Salinity
    • Soil sodicity
    • Soil acidity and alkalinity
    • Improving soils
    • Cultivation techniques
    • Plant nutrition
    • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Organic fertilisers
    • Soil life
    • Insect Pests
    • Diseases
  3. CROP HUSBANDRY PRACTICES
    • Operations
    • Identifying weeds
    • Ways to control weeds
    • Spraying
    • Irrigation
    • Chemical crop protection
    • Preparing plant pathogens for microscopic observation
    • Culturing Pathogens
    • Natural pest and disease control
    • Physical controls
    • Organic sprays and dusts
  4. SEED AND SEED MANAGEMENT
    • Seed storage
    • Types of seed storage
    • Seed vigour testing
    • Dormancy factors affecting germination
    • Germination treatments
    • Types of media
    • Media derived from rock or stone
    • Media derived from synthetic materials
    • Organic media
    • Diseases
    • Salinty build up
  5. ARABLE CEREAL CROPS
    • Cereal crops
    • Zadocks Growth scale
    • Wheat
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Triticale
    • Sorghum
    • Maize
    • Rice
    • Millet
    • Sugar cane
    • Ryegrass
    • Hay and Silage
    • Quality control
    • Storage and handling
    • Hydroponic fodder
  6. ARABLE BROAD LEAF CROPS
    • Characteristics of broad leaf crops
    • Oil crops
    • Chickpeas
    • Narrow-leafed lupins
    • Canola
    • Faba beans
    • Cover crops
    • Common legumes
  7. HARVESTING
    • Crop preparation for harvest
    • Crop harvest equipment
    • Forage harvesting equipment
    • Cereal harvesting equipment
    • Root crop harvesting equipment
    • Grain storage
    • Contract harvesting
  8. CROP MANAGEMENT - SPECIAL PROJECT
    • Crop management from planting to post harvest handling

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

  • Describe the nature and scope of Agronomic Practices within your country and beyond.
  • Discuss what is grown, where it is grown and the diversity.
  • Identify factors that affect the success of a crop, including soil condition, weather and biological influences such as pests and diseases.
  • Describe significant practices used by farmers in the growing of an agronomic crop.
  • Explain how to achieve successful seed germination for different agronomic crops under different conditions in the field.
  • Discuss and describe practices used to farm cereals for harvest and sale as cash crops.
  • Discuss practices used to farm broad leaf crops, for harvest and sale as cash crops.
  • Describe different harvesting equipment and techniques including post-harvest handling and treatments for a range of different crops.
  • Develop a management plan for a crop from planting through to post harvest handling.

What You Will Do

  • Go to your local department of primary industries (or equivalent), collect cropping guides on crops grown locally in your area. Ensure your information includes broadleaf, legume and grass (cereal crops). Collect fodder crop information also and find out what the main fodder crops are in your area.
  • Obtain pictures of the seed and mid season crop and mature crop. Become familiar with agronomic terms and start a glossary, use library, text and internet searches to complete this task.
  • Having looked at what crops are grown in your region, now look at the soil types. What type of soil is common to your region. What are the main features to these soils. That is, what colour is the soil, what texture is it, does it have a high sand or clay content, does the soil drain well, or waterlog? How did this soil form? Write these down as a reference.
  • Collect photos of the various planting, cultivating and harvesting equipment used in your country and write brief notes on when and where you would use which machine and for which crop. Do this for a maximum of 5 pieces of equipment.
  • Collect samples of your own seed (for 4 different crops), from a local farmer or produce store. Perform your own germination test using the cotton wool method. Take photos on day 2, and the final day. Record the number of seed germinating per day, and then the total number on the final day.
  • Develop a management plan for a crop from planting through to post harvest handling.

Tips for choosing a crop

 
The following tips will help in determining selection of a cover crop:
  • Type of crop - Perennial crops are generally preferred over annuals. With annuals, large populations of nematodes often move into the soil after maturing, causing problems for the root system of any subsequent plantings.
  • Effect on soil pH – Alkaline-tolerant plants such as sorghum and barley can be grown to reclaim alkaline (lime) soils. Growing a single crop of these plants may cause sufficient acidification to allow less lime-tolerant legumes to be grown, further acidifying the soil and allowing it to be used for livestock or a cash crop.
  • Timing - The crop should be incorporated (tilled) before maturity (i.e. before flowers and seeds form).
  • Water use - While cover crops, like any other crops, do use water, their root growth can lead to better penetration of water into the soil. Additionally, residual organic material left by the plants will lead to increased water conservation.
 

What is involved in planting a crop?

Planting is probably the most important agronomic operation in the life cycle of the crop.  Harvest is certainly an important consideration but without an established crop there will be nothing to harvest.  Before a crop can be planted, one needs to look at a number of criteria.  Firstly what are soil surface conditions like? 

  • Has the field been cultivated previously? 
  • Is there stubble present from the previous crop?
  • What sort of soil are you planting into, is heavy black clay, or lighter sandy soil? 
  • What is the ideal planting depth for the seed of the crop you intend to grow? 
  • Can the seed be deep sown, or does it have to be near the surface? 
  • What is the ideal plant population and row spacing? 
Having researched this information, a decision then needs to be made on the type of planter required to do the job.

Learning More Can Help!

This course can expand your perception of what is possible with broad acre crop production. When you see a wider choice of possible crops to grow, together with more ways to grow and market them, you will begin to see opportunities not only to farm in different ways, but also opportunities to work in providing services and goods to the agronomic farmer.

This course aims to open your eyes to possibilities, deepen your understanding, and set you on a path where your knowledge and understanding of agronomy will continue growing over the years that follow your study.

 
 

 

 



Meet some of our academics

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.
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) .
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.


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