Hydroponics I

Course CodeBHT224
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Hydroponics - A Great Introductory Course!

Develop a sound understanding of the theory and practice of hydroponics.

This is a course for growers, farm workers, hydroponic shop staff, horticulturists or anyone else seeking to lay a sound foundation in hydroponic growing.

This course introduces you to a wide range of systems, simple and complex, and how to grow many different types of horticulturally valuable crops, such as cut flowers and vegetables.

People Choose Hydroponics for Many Different Reasons

  • It can be highly productive (and profitable) where space is limited.
  • You can produce cleaner plants; without needing to use so many nasty chemicals
  • It appeals to 'technically' minded people, because they can manipulate and control plant growth better than is possible in soil.
  • It appeals to those who can't (or don't want to) do hard physical work; because the back breaking jobs can be eliminated from growing.

Our principal started experimenting with hydroponics in 1973, began extending that in 1974, wrote a best selling book on it in 1989, and has been gathering experience and information on hydroponics ever since. We have a team of tutors who have worked with hydroponics for decades. Let us help you build your own knowledge and experience.

Discover a wide range of systems, simple and complex, and how to grow many different types of horticulturally valuable crops, such as cut flowers and vegetables.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • hydroponic systems
    • global industry
    • comparision to growing in soil
    • resources and contacts.
  2. How a Plant Grows
    • plant structure
    • biochemistry
    • biochemical cell processess
    • mechanisms of nutrient uptake
    • photosynthesis; minerals and nutrients
    • the role of pH in plant growth
    • hydroponic nutrient solutions
    • preparing nutrient solutions.
  3. Hydroponic Systems
    • location
    • equipment
    • systems
    • soilless mixes
    • rockwool
    • rockwool manufacture
    • rockwool properties
    • development of propagating blocks
    • propagation applications
    • recommended practices for propagation
    • nutrient film techniques
    • alternative layouts for NFT
    • methods of solution dispensation, closed and open systems; techniques.
  4. Nutrition & Nutrition management
    • understanding nutrient formulae
    • atoms, elements & compounds
    • chemical names
    • what does a plant need
    • calculating formulae
    • mixing nutrients
    • symptoms of nutrient deficiency
    • recommendations
    • adjusting the pH
    • using electrical conductivity measures
    • conductivity
    • conductivity and hydroponics.
  5. Plant Culture
    • flow charting the crop
    • controllers
    • salinity controllers
    • pH controllers
    • post harvest storage
    • cooling
    • drying
    • canning/bottling
    • controlled atmosphere storage
    • relative humidity
    • vacuum storage
    • freeze drying
    • freezing
    • pest and diseases in controlled environments
    • fungi, common fungal problems
    • cultural controls
    • current legislation
    • biological and integrated pest management
    • beneficial agents
    • economic thresholds
    • methods of introduction
    • major pests, diseases and disorders of crops identified
    • problem solving and identification of illness
    • difficult to diagnose problems
    • leaf hoppers; thrip; virus; bacteria; caterpillars; harlequin bugs and more.
  6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production
    • commercial cultivation of vegetables
    • propagation
    • temperatures required for seed germination
    • optimum monthly temperatures for vegetable growth
    • harvesting vegetables
    • growing vegetables hydroponically
    • vegetable families
    • fresh-cut herbs in hydroponic culture
    • nutrient solution
    • materials and handling
    • notes on selected crops.
  7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production
    • growing flowers in hydroponics
    • carbon dioxide
    • automation
    • flower varieties
    • indoor plants.
  8. Solid Media vs Nutrient Film
    • growing media
    • NFT system choices
    • header tank or direct pumping
    • construction materials
    • solution delivery
    • capillary matting
    • channel width and length
    • slope
    • temperature
    • types of media
    • vermiculite; sand; perlite; expanded plastics; scoria; expanded clay
    • organic media; sawdust; peat moss; coir fibre; composted bark
    • indoor plants
    • plant directory
    • transplanting a pot grown plant into a hydroponic 'culture pot'.
  9. Greenhouse Operation & Management
    • growing crops in greenhouses
    • solar energy
    • greenhouses
    • nature of active solar heating systems
    • examples of solar greenhouse facilities
    • greenhouse management
    • what you can grow
    • greenhouse and other growing structures
    • environmental factors that influence plant growth
    • plant needs
    • temperature control
    • heat loss
    • heaters
    • light factors
    • artificial light
    • horticultural management in a greenhouse
    • greenhouse benches
    • greenhouse cooling
    • fog.
  10. Special Assignment
    • plan a hydroponic enterprise.


  • Explain different hydroponic systems.
  • Select appropriate media for specified hydroponic crops.
  • Describe the equipment used in hydroponic systems.
  • Determine the management of nutrition in hydroponic systems.
  • Explain the management of a greenhouse in the production of a hydroponic crop.
  • Plan the establishment of hydroponic facility to satisfy specified criteria, both commercial and cultural.
  • Develop a management plan for a hydroponic facility.

What are the Possibilities?

There are a bewildering number of choices to be made when deciding what type of system to use.


The first choice is whether to use water culture, aggregate culture or rockwool. All three are viable and used successfully with a large variety of crops in many different parts of the world.

Your choice should take into consideration the following:

  • What is the cost of each and how readily available are materials in your area?
  • Is rockwool made/sold locally? If not, what freight charges are involved in having it delivered?
  • Is there a local source of sand or gravel which can be used, or do you need to pay high cartage costs?
  • What types of plants will you grow?
  • Some plants require better aeration than others. Some systems provide better aeration than others, for example NFT systems.

Hydroponic Media: There are three main groups of hydroponic media, based on their origins:

  1. Media derived from rock or stone
  2. Media derived from synthetics
  3. Organic media

Hydroponic media must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Must be chemically inert.
  • Must be chemically stable.
  • Must be clean.
  • Must drain sufficiently freely not to create waterlogging problems.
  • Must have adequate water-holding capacity.
  • Must have adequate air-holding capacity.
  • Buffer capacity should be good – this is the ability of the media to resist changes in pH.
  • It is preferable that cation exchange capacity is at least moderate to good.

Plant Support
Plants grown in hydroponics tend to be more prone to falling over than plants grown in soil; and thus frequently need some type of trellis support. Water culture methods such as NFT and light weight materials such as perlite, vermiculite and rock wool do not provide firm anchorage of roots in the way that soil does.

  • Tall growing plants in particular need support.
  • Stronger supports are needed if plants are exposed to wind.
  • A greater bulk of plant will need a stronger trellis.

Nutrient Levels

Hydroponic systems are reliant on the composition and formulation of the nutrient solution to supply all the essential elements required for optimal plant growth and yields. However, nutrient solutions are complex and the composition of these changes as they flow through the root system and irons are extracted. Many problems in hydroponic systems are either nutrient or environmentally based, making these the main areas where troubleshooting skills need to be developed.


Working out if deficiency symptoms on a crop are actual or induced by other factors becomes the vital first step to solving such problems. The simplest way for a grower to determine this is to have a full solution or leachate analysis carried out to rule out any deficiency in the plant’s feed regime. Some deficiencies, particularly of the trace elements such as iron, benefit from foliar application of these nutrients to help correct the problem in the short term. These however are only a quick fix and the missing nutrient needs to be supplied in the root zone at the correct levels over the long term. Iron foliar sprays are particularly effective where cool conditions or root zone damage have limited iron uptake and caused the distinctive iron chlorosis symptoms on the new leaves.


  • Employees in the industry
  • People wanting to set up their own hydroponics farm or retail business
  • Hobbyist
  • Horticulturist
  • Cut flower farmers
  • Nurserymen

No matter where your ambitions lie - learn with the experts and set your career on the right path!




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