Certificate in Small Acreage Farming (Crops)

This is a course intended for people who like the lifestyle of living on perhaps one to 5 or 10 acres. They may aspire to earn part or all of their income from their property; or even just to be largely self sufficient.
There are a lot of possibilities for anyone who is managing a small holding such as this, for example:
  • Producing their own food by growing vegetables, nuts, berries and/or fruit
  • Producing things to sell (eg. cut flowers, berry fruit, vegetables, herbs, potted plants)
  • Growing grapes and making wine; or fruit and making preserves.

It is possible to earn a living farming as little as a few acres; but only if you are selective about what produce you are farming.

Compulsory Modules
You need to study the following four modules first; and then choose a further two from the flist that follows:
Crops I (Outdoor Plant Production)
This module is made up of the following lessons:
  1. Crop production systems
  2. Organic crop production
  3. Soils and nutrition
  4. Nursery stock production
  5. Tree fruit production
  6. Soft fruits production
  7. Vegetable production
  8. Cut flower production
  9. Herbs, nuts and miscellaneous crops
  10. Crop production risk assessment
Irrigation (Crops)
This module is made up of the following lessons:
  1. Introduction to irrigation
  2. Soil characteristics and problems
  3. Estimating plant and soil requirements
  4. Drainage
  5. Types of irrigation systems
  6. Hydraulics
  7. Pumps and filters
  8. Selecting the right system for the plant
  9. Trickle Irrigation
  10. Design and Operation of Systems
3. Protected Plant Production
This module is made up of the following lessons:
  1. Structures for protected cropping
  2. Environmental control
  3. Cladding materials and their properties
  4. Irrigation
  5. Nursery nutrition
  6. Relationship between production techniques and horticultural practices
  7. Horticultural management in a greenhouse: pests and disease
  8. Harvest and post-harvest technology
  9. Greenhouse plants
  10. Risk assessment
4. Soil Management (Agriculture)
This module is made up of the following lessons:
  1. Soils and soil classification
  2. Properties of soils and plant nutrition
  3. Soil testing methods
  4. Land degradation and other soil problems
  5. Soil management on farms
  6. Crops - soil and nutrient requirements
  7. Soil investigation and report
Elective Modules
After completing the compulsory modules above; you need to choose two more from those that follow.
  • Seed Propagation
  • Viticulture
  • Berry Production
  • Herb Culture
  • Nut Production
  • Commercial Vegetable Production
  • Weed Control
  • Organic Farming
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Organic Farming
  • Fruit Production (Temperate OR Warm Climate)

Some of the learning aims from Soil Management (Agriculture):

  • Define terms related to the production and management of agricultural soil, such as: manure, micorrhyzae, ameliorant, pore space, micro-nutrient, denitrification, ammonium fixation, chemo autrophic organisms, colloids, buffering capacity, leaching, compaction
  • Explain how pH affects nutrient availability
  • Explain the function of different nutrients in soils/growing media, such at nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Analyse a soil test report in order to evaluate the soil for horticultural or agricultural use
  • Describe appropriate soil testing methods for different situations
  • Compare the use of organic and inorganic fertilisers in different situations
  • Develop a detailed nutritional management plan for a particular crop, following organic principles
  • Explain various methods for assessing drainage at a site
  • Evaluate the use of earthworks to refurbish or improve a specific site
  • Discuss advantages and problems of importing soil from elsewhere for crop production
  • Explain appropriate methods of stabilising an unstable or erosion-prone slope
  • Remove a soil profile, describe the different soil layers and compare the effects of different soil treatments on the soil profile
  • Report on prevention and control methods for soil degradation and development of sustainable soil management practices in a case study

You want to study more than two of these electives...why not go for an Advanced Certificate or Diploma instead and learn so much more! Speak to one of our course advisors today about upgrading to more extensive study in this area.



IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
If you look carefully at the above six ways of managing pest and diseases you will see that the list starts with the control method that will have the least impact on the environment. Today most countries, adhering to ‘World’s Best Practice’ guidelines will encourage the use of the IPM system. Integrated Pest Management is a means of controlling pests without relying totally on chemical insecticides. In the past farmers and horticulturists main approach to pest and disease control was to either wait until there was evidence of a problem and then eradicate the pest or disease with the application of chemicals, or implement a pest control program with regular and routine chemical treatments before there was any sign of damage.

The approach that IPM takes is to look carefully for pests throughout the season and make decisions on what to do based on the results of the monitoring process
Through the implementation of an IPM system pests are more likely to be found when they are still only in low numbers due to the fact that the plants are being checked regularly for signs of infestation or disease. The problem will be dealt with early before the outbreak becomes too big.

There will always be some pests present in a crop or on plants. This does not necessarily mean that a control method needs to be implemented that quickly kills the pest, in IPM the best control method will also take into account control measures already in place i.e. biological control and not jeopardise their effectiveness. It must be ascertained just how many pests can be tolerated without damage to the plants or crop In and this is dependant on the location, variety and other crops growing nearby.

Using an IPM strategy farmers and horticulturists need to be able to identify the many different insects including pests and those that are not pests as well as diseases found on their crops or plants, they should know when action is needed by ascertaining whether an infestation is at a level so as to be of concern, and to ascertain the number of beneficial insects present. They also need to know how many pests can be tolerated before they need to take action; resistance to insecticides is an outcome as a result of chemical overuse in the past. Monitoring crops on a weekly basis will enable you to determine what the pests and beneficial insects are doing and whether the beneficial insects are controlling the pests, intervention should only occur when biological and cultural controls are not sufficient.

Insecticide use in IPM
If the cultural and biological controls are not performing the job of preventing unacceptable levels of damage, insecticides may be appropriate, but ideally it would be best to use chemicals that kill the pest and do not kill beneficial insects. With the broader application of IPM more selective products are coming onto the market and this is a continuing trend. For example, virus to control heliothis caterpillars is being sold as GemStar, bacteria to control many caterpillar species is sold under many names, including Dipel and XenTari. Chemicals that kill aphids but not most beneficial species include Pirimor and Chess. If pests are seen in numbers that can cause damage, or introduce disease, should insecticides be used? It must be understood that use of insecticides can make some pest problems far worse, although they can solve other pest problems. Extreme care must be made in the selection, timing and application of any insecticide. The treated crop should be monitored to make sure that the insecticide did what was asked. In addition, the potential losses hopefully saved by insecticide application should be weighed up against other insect or disease problems that can be created by the treatment.

What Does IPM Involve?
Knowledge of the organism’s life cycle, its habits, environmental requirements and natural predators forms the basis of all IPM programs. IPM treatments use a combination of strategies including biological, mechanical, physical and chemical tools as well as other common-sense cultural and managerial practices. Education is central to the overall success of an IPM program.

In an IPM program, chemical controls are generally considered a last resort, unless there is a genuine emergency requiring a rapid response. When a chemical control is needed, the hazard associated with that chemical, which includes its toxicity and the potential for human and environmental exposure, must be assessed and the least hazardous chemical control chosen. A range of preventative measures should be used in an integrated system.


  • At ACS we value students: if you succeed then we also succeed.
  • At ACS we support our students: our tutors are on hand to answer your questions. In fact we like our students to ask questions because that means that they are taking their studies seriously. We also know that distance learning can be isolating, so contact can help you to get through your course and we are here to help you to do that. Make sure you contact your tutor if you have a problem or a question - no matter how small, don't sit on it!
  • At ACS our courses are based on Experiential Learning and developing problem solving skills - we have found that combining practical set tasks with problem solving based assignments helps your students to gather, retain and recall knowledge far better than if they are just reading textbooks and only regurgitating and referencing information written by others. Problem Based Learning also develops problem solving skills which are extremely useful in everyday life as well as on a farm.
  • ACS courses are written by people who have actually worked in the industry - they are not just pure academics.


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Fee Information (CT)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $3,425.51  1 x $3,114.10
B 2 x $1,848.61  2 x $1,680.55
C 4 x $996.93  4 x $906.30

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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