Certificate in Agriculture VAG001

A great foundation for working in Agriculture or running a farm

This is a 600 hour course comprising 3 core modules as listed below and 3 electives (choose from over 40 different options). 


 To obtain this certificate you must successfully complete assignments in all six modules and pass an exam for each module (additional exam fees apply). If you fail to meet any requirements, you are given the option of resubmitting or resitting exams, until requirements are satisfied.

Duration:  600 hours


Core Modules: Most applicants for this certificate are either adults or have successfully completed at least year 11 at secondary school. Younger students who have not completed year 11 may study this certificate, but should expect to take longer than the usual 600 hours to be successful.

Course Structure:

Core Modules:

Module 1. Farm Management (BAG104)

Learn to analyse, diagnose and make decisions related to management of a farm business. The course relates to managing all resources, including: Production; Staff; Physical Resources; and Natural Resources. You learn strategic planning, whole farm planning, and how to prepare a business plan.

Module 2. Agricultural Marketing (BAG304)

Develops the ability to analyse and manage marketing problems in an agricultural enterprise. There are eight lessons covering: Marketing and economic theories; Target marketing; Promotions techniques (including advertising; Handling (ie. transport and storage; Market Research methods; Customer service.

Module 3. Animal Health Care (VAG100)

Develops understanding of veterinary and animal health care practices. This course provides a starting point for someone seeking to develop a career in the veterinary industry, or a broad grounding for the health care of domestic pets or farm animals. The module covers topics such as various pest and disease problems, their symptoms, and treatments in a variety of animals; animal behaviour and handling; materials and methods used in professional animal healthcare; legal and administrative considerations.

Plus three (3) Electives (choose 3):

These can be any 100 hr modules that are relevant to agriculture and do not cross over with the core modules above. Normally the electives will be chosen from the following.

  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Agronomy
  • Organic Farming
  • Animal Anatomy & Physiology
  • Animal Health
  • Poultry
  • Pig Husbandry
  • Goat Husbandry
  • Sheep
  • Beef Cattle
  • Dairy Cattle
  • Aquaculture
  • Mariculture
  • Aquaponics
  • Horse Care I
  • Protected Plant Production 
  • Outdoor Plant Production
  • Soil Management
  • Herb Culture
  • Viticulture
  • Mushroom Production

Below is more information about some of the electives:

Sustainable Agriculture
This course presents many different techniques and general measures which may be adopted in part or full, in order to move a farm toward greater sustainability, whether the concerns are commercial, environmental or something else. Improving sustainability is sometimes as simple as changing what is being farmed or how it is being marketed; but it may also be a multi facet problem that requires changes in a whole range of farm management practices. This course was developed by our principal, John Mason author of the best selling book "Sustainable Agriculture 2nd ed." published by Landlinks Press (CSIRO)

Organic Farming

Organic farming has been adopted by some farmers for economic reasons, others for ethical or sustainability concerns. Whatever the reason though for going organic, there is no doubt this method of farming is here to stay.  Learn to manage both plant and animal production in a more natural and environmentally sensitive way. Lessons include:

  1. Introduction to Organic Farming
  2. Integrated Farm Management Systems
  3. Organic Management Issues
  4. Organic Soil Management and Crop Nutrition
  5. Weed Management
  6. Pest and Disease Management
  7. Livestock Management I
  8. Livestock Management II
  9. Pasture
  10. Management Principles
  11. Crops

Animal Anatomy & Physiology
Lessons are as follows:

  1. Introduction, Cells & Tissues
  2. The Digestive System
  3. The Circulatory System
  4. The Urinary System
  5. The Nervous System
  6. Respiration
  7. The Reproductive System
  8. Muscles & Meat
  9. The Skeleton
  10. Animal Growth, Development & The Endocrine System
  11. Comparing Different Animals

Animal Health

Learn to care for the health of any type of animal (focus is on mammals and birds) and understand the scope of services offered by animal care services, including in veterinary practices. his course is appropriate for anyone interested in working with animals including on a farm, a wildlife park or a veterinary practice. It is a sound foundation course and designed to cover most of what is found in a typical veterinary assistants course in many countries around the world.

Learn about: Terminology, Breeds , Nutrition, Diseases In Poultry, Layers, Broilers, Incubation, Brooding, Record Keeping, Economics & Marketing.
For farmers, farm workers, breeders, amateur enthusiasts or anyone seeking to develop a sound in depth foundation understanding of poultry.

Develop your ability to independently analyse and make decisions about the development and management of freshwater aquaculture enterprises. Aquaculture is the farming of water creatures for human consumption. This subject is concerned with the culture and care of fresh water aquatic animals.

Horse Care I
Learn to manage the daily requirements of a horse at grass. The course aims to develop:

  • The ability to handle horses using a range of different procedures
  • Skills to evaluate a horses conformation
  • An understanding of diet
  • Knowledge of grooming procedures
  • An ability to develop appropriate management procedures
  • Knowledge of commercial opportunities, including trading horses. Protected Plant Production

Soil Management (Horticulture)
Good soil conditions are critical to the healthy growth of most plants. Over eight lessons this course will develop an understanding of physical & chemical properties of soils, the ability to carry out simple tests and determine soil characteristics, and to decide ways of treating a soil to improve its ability to grow plants.

Outdoor Plant Production
Designed to gain broad knowledge on outdoor crop production, from flowers to fruits and vegetables, this course is a basic step to start a commercial venture on many types of crops. The course consists of ten lessons that cover site selection, crop selection, soil management, cut flowers, vegetables, berries, nuts, herbs, tree fruits, other crops, managing a market garden and more.
Student comment (M.Simpson): "This course has been excellent.... I would be willing to recommend this course to any of my friends and colleagues"

Herb Culture
This is designed to develop a solid grounding in herb growing and the herb industry. An average student will take around 100 hrs. Half of the course deals with general herb culture, including identification, soils, mulching, feeding, watering, propagation, pest & disease control, harvest, storage, processing, companion planting, nursery management and herb farming. The remainder of the course involves detailed studies of major groups of herbs such as: mints, thymes, lavenders, scented geraniums, garlic, roses, artemisias and parsley.

This includes lessons on the history of viticulture, the modern wine industry, grape varieties and their characteristics and uses, cultural practises, soils, vineyard design, planning and layout, improving crop quality, harvest & post harvest procedures, winemaking, marketing and more.

Mushroom Production
This is a comprehensive 8 lesson course covering how to grow mushrooms on either a small or large scale. Emphasis is placed on the Agaricus species (the Champignon), though other commercially important edible fungi are also considered. Growing, harvesting, marketing, storage, pest and diseases and even ways of cooking and using mushrooms are covered.



Everything in this world constantly changes.  There is no guarantee that markets that were open to a farm today, won't dry up next year. The most profitable livestock or crop this year might be different to the most profitable next. As science and technology develops, the possibilities for smarter more efficient farming will constantly increase.

With all of this change in today's world, anyone who works in agriculture needs to stay informed of change, and be ready to adapt and embrace new opportunities, and discard redundant ways promptly and with minimal fuss. This requires you to always think ahead, and plan for the future.

Every farm needs a different type of plan; different in emphasis, different in content and different in structure. Given that each farm has different priorities, and operates under a different set of circumstances, it is impossible to follow a "generic" or standard approach to planning.

You do need to plan all aspects which are important to your operation; including production, finance, land care, facility and equipment management, marketing, product processing (if relevant), and physical layout (ie. design of the farm).

Planning in each of these areas will involve:

  • Determining decisions which need to be made in order to prepare for the future.
  • Gathering information upon which to base those decisions.
  • Analysing that information.
  • Considering the options, and the likely outcome of each option.
  • Selecting the most appropriate option, based upon the information available.
  • Acting on the selected option.
  • Reviewing the situation periodically, and accordingly modifying the action being taken.

A well organised and experienced farmer might not need to be too rigid in adhering to a procedure like this; however, many farmers will find a real benefit in working through such a systematic procedure "on paper".

The surest way to succeed is to move through this procedure step by step; writing down everything as you go. This gives you a chance to ponder over what you have written, add new thoughts, or make alterations.


Farms have always been product based industries (ie. They make their money out of producing a product such as milk, fruit, meat, vegetables, or grain).

They have sometimes partially processed their products (eg. a dairy farm separating cream from milk); but rarely to a stage where the product is ready for retailing. Some farmers do go the extra “value added” step (eg. a small town butcher using his own stock).

A financially struggling operation may be able to increase their economic viability by turning their attention towards deriving more income by processing their produce, or by providing income generating services such as farm tours or accommodation (eg. farm stay).

To remain financially sustainable; a farm may need to reconsider the enterprises it is undertaking, from time to time.

If a particular crop or animal product is becoming less profitable, it may be time to change to providing a different service or product.

There are two things farms can sell:

  • Products: plants or animals (either as raw produce, or processed to add value and increase income).
  • Services: generating income from either your property or manpower resources (eg, charging for farm tours or events such as weddings, operating an on farm school, providing accommodation, renting land , etc).


  • Farmers & Farm workers
  • Anyone providing farm services, materials or equipment
  • Teachers, agricultural journalists, etc
  • Anyone with a passion for agriculture



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Fee Information (CT)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $3,080.00  1 x $2,800.00
B 2 x $1,663.20  2 x $1,512.00
C 4 x $878.90  4 x $799.00

Note: Australian prices include GST. 
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