Good soil conditions are critical to the healthy growth of most plants.
Nutrient levels, pH, salinity, depth, texture (properties of sand and clay), structure (form and arrangement), porosity (air space), consistence (the ability of soil to withstand rupture) and even colour can affect plant growth independently or interdependently.
Over eight lessons this course will develop an understanding of physical and 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.
- To describe the significance of different physical and chemical properties of soil, in relation to the growing of plants.
- To correctly extract samples of soil, appropriate to different situations; and then conduct a range of simple tests to determine varying characteristics of the sample taken.
- To further explain the characteristics of a soil, scientifically; and relate those characteristics to the capacity of a soil to grow plants.
- To recommend appropriate selection and management of potting and other alternative media for growing plants in containers.
- To diagnose and recommend the treatment of a variety of soil degradation problems
- Understanding of the principles of sustainable soil management
- To determine appropriate management programs for different soils in horticultural situations.
- To recommend soil management practices which are not going to cause a degradation of soil quality.
- Explain the methods used in managing earthworks in a way which is sensitive to soil condition.
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Detailed Course Outline
This course is made up of a number of lessons or units. Each of these has self assessment questions, a set task (practical homework) and an assignment which you can upload online. Click below to read about each of the lessons and what you will learn.
There are 8 Lessons in this course:
Physical and Chemical Properties of Soils
- How soils develop
- The main rock forming minerals: silicates, carbonates, oxides and sulphates
- Types of rock: igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic
- Denitrification, immobilisation, mineralisation and ammonium fixation
- Understanding soil function: plant nutrition, support, water and air supply
- Naming a soil
- Improving soils for plant culture
- Organic matter
- Plant nutrition
- Nutrient availability and pH
- Cation exchange capacity
- Salinity build up
- The nutrient elements
- Major elements and minor elements
- Total salts
- Diagnosing nutrient problems
Soil and Plant Tissue Test Methods
- Soil sampling
- Common soil tests: pH, texture, structure, etc
- Tissue analysis
- Different methods of measuring pH
- Water content of soil
- Fertiliser solubility
- Testing the effect of lime
- Laboratory testing of soils
- Measuring salinity
- Bulk density
- Understanding soil analysis
- Deciding when and how to test
Soil Science and Health
- Organic carbon
- Available phosphorus
- Soil colour
- Texture and its affect on plant growth
- Structure and its affect on plant growth
- Consistence: affect on plant growth
- Depth of profile, pH, porosity and other things affecting plant growth
- Soil classification and description: different horizons
- Factors affecting soil formation: parent material, climate, ecosystem, etc
- Weathering processes in soil formation: physical, chemical, geochemical
- Pedochemical weathering
- What to grow
- Problems with containers
- Care of containers
- Comparing materials: plastics, terracotta, fibreglass, etc
- Aesthetics of containers
- Potting up
- Potting mixes
- Ideas for container gardens
- History of potting mxes
- UC mixes
- Soilless mixes
- Testing for toxins in potting media
- Propagating media
- Problems with Organic materials in media
- Components of potting media
- Cleanliness with soils and potting media
Land Degradation and Other Soil Problems
- Chemical damage to soil
- Builders rubbish in soils
- Dogs or cats urinating
- Growing plants in dry areas
- Soil degradation
- Chemical residues
Soil Management Applications
- Aims of soil management
- Soil management in orchards
- Fertilizer application
- Soil covers
- Soil management for Vegetables
Organic Techniques and Soil Management
- What is organic growing
- Organic principles for overcoming soil problems
- Natural plant nutrition
- Trace elements
- Types of mulch and its use
- Nutrition management in a plant nursery
- Applying liquid fertilizers
- Organic fertilizers
- Natural fertilizers
- Mineral rock fertilizers and soil conditioners
- Apatite phosphate rock
- Soil management in market gardens
- Crop rotation
- Determining kind and quantity of fertilizer to use
- Cover crops
Soils and Managing Earthworks
- Earth forming
- Creating mounds
- Sources of “fill”
- Improving drainage
- Improving surface drainage after construction
- Designing a drainage system
- Improving permeability during construction
- Layout of drains
- Types of drains
When you have completed your lessons you have the option of taking the optional exam. It's ok if you don't want the exam, we still issue your Careerline Certificate.
Barbara Tremain BSc. (Hons) Horticulture, RHS Adv. Cert,. RHS General, City & Guilds Garden Design, Permaculture Level 3 (UK)
Barbara brings to Careerline a wide range of horticultural experience and knowledge Barbara has a keen interest in herbalism, edible wild plants and has lead into studies of many plant based complementary medicinal systems, qualification as a Bach Flower remedy practitioner and studying Ethnobotany. Barbara has practiced and studied horticulture as well as combining it with her love of travel in many countries including the UK, US and Australia and has also studied Permaculture and runs her own horticulture business. Within the past two years she have also worked for Groundwork SW with 18-24 year old unemployed people, this work and the mentoring scheme has allowed me to teach informally. It has been a delight to nurture the interests of keen learners in horticulture and garden design. Meanwhile the business has covered a variety of Garden Design projects, from wildflower gardens to seaside situations, and has included some work with Chelsea Gold multi-winner John Moreland.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I pay in installments?
Yes! We offer great payment plans, however full payment up front is the cheapest. You can choose the best payment plan for you from the course page, or call us on 07 55368782 to talk to one of our course consultants for a custom plan.
Can I study from anywhere in the world?
We have many international students. Careerline's range of courses are suitable for any one, anywhere in the world.
Do I get a discount if I enroll in a second course?
Yes. You may claim a 5% fee discount when you enroll in a second course, and a further 10% off a three-course package.
Do I have to sit an Exam?
No. If you are enrolled in a Certificate course (100hrs), the exam is optional. You will be issued with a certificate which proves that you are competent in all units, if you choose not to sit the exam.
Do you have set start dates?
There are no set start dates, you may start at any time. Our courses are all self-paced. As our home page says, ‘Courses for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’. ‘Anytime’ includes the start time of your choice. However, we do encourage our students to submit assignments on a regular basis. Wherever possible, we suggest developing a study routine.