Technical Management Course for Greenhouse and Hydroponic Systems

Industry Training 2

This is a 5-day practical and theoretical course that will enable participants to understand detailed principles of commercial hydroponic and greenhouse crop production.


Graeme Smith Consulting to deliver a packaged "Technical Management Course for Greenhouse & Hydroponic Systems" training course, for delivery to interested protected cropping entities in your local area under the stewardship of (your local company TBA).

This highly detailed course is suitable for any international locations wishing to fast-track their knowledge of protected cropping & hydroponic systems and can be adapted to local requirements if required.

Course Content

Course to be composed of 13 topics at certificate V level to be delivered over 4.5 days (approx 3 topics per day)

Each module to include both theory (classroom) and practical elements (local greenhouse workshops)

Selected modules to include:

  1. Workbook
  2. Supplementary notes on key subjects
  3. Practical demonstrations and calculations

Technical Presenters:

Course technical presenters will include:

Program Responsibilities:

Graeme Smith Consulting to be responsible for:

  • Overall program development
  • Program administration
  • PI Insurance
  • IT Tools (laptop, some consumables, greenhouse meters, etc)
  • Module development
  • Training delivery

Course Fees:

Graeme Smith Consulting fees for course delivery (maximum 5 days):

AUD$ POA (+ GST/VAT if applicable)

plus reasonable travel and accommodation expenses for 2 (Aust/Local/Aust)

Maximum Students:

Above offer limited to a maximum of 15–20 students per course.

(n.b. extra students may incur additional fees)

Local Area Facilitator Responsibilities: (Company TBA)

Local area facilitators are to be assigned for each course and are responsible for the following:

  1. Suitable location for course delivery (hall, meeting room, etc for up to 22 people)
  2. Food or drinks for students (if offered?)
  3. Introductions to suitable locations for delivery of practical elements (greenhouse or hydroponic farm, etc)
  4. Projection screen
  5. Whiteboard
  6. Workbook (inc printing of contents)
  7. Datashow projector
  8. 240VAC power outlets and extension cords
  9. Any necessary transport (e.g. to local greenhouse for practical demonstrations, etc)
  10. Misc consumables (pens, name tags, etc)
  11. Suitable Visas & accommodation for the 2 presenters

Course Topics

The course consists of the following 13 topics to ensure sound greenhouse and hydroponic principles are understood by all participants.

  • Greenhouse Plant Physiology
  • Water Quality, EC & pH
  • Greenhouse Environmental Management
  • Plant Structure, Nutrition & Nutrient Management
  • Irrigation Media's Manager, understanding irrigation in protected cropping and soilless culture
  • Media Types & Characteristics
  • Crop Registration & Plant Balance, A Professional Approach To Growing.
  • Common Greenhouse Pests, Diseases, & IPM
  • CO2 Enrichment of Greenhouses
  • Recirculation, How To Convert To A Closed Hydroponic System.
  • Greenhouse Crop Protection Principles
  • Implement a Hydroponic Maintenance Program
  • NFT Systems

 Other topics that could be covered (time permitting) could include the following:

  • Location, Siting & Layout of Greenhouse Systems
  • Greenhouse Structures & Environmental Management
  • Basic Hydroponic Systems & Components
  • Quality Assurance, OH&S, IT & Production Plan
  • Tomato Plant Management, Physical & Cultural Requirements.
  • Implement a Plant Establishment Program
  • New Greenhouse Investment & Technology Considerations
  • General Greenhouse Business Planning

 (n.b. The above 8 topics could be considered by newer entrants into the hydroponic & greenhouse industry)

Course Suitability

The course is developed for greenhouse or hydroponic growers with a number of years growing experience, or grower managers or crop advisors and has been developed for Certificate IV level. (however we also encourage newer industry entrants if they wish to fastrack their knowledge base)

Topic Contents

A brief description follows on the subjects covered in each topic (attached)

Main Course Topics

  1. Greenhouse Plant Physiology
    Explores the way light, temperature and humidity interacts with horticultural crops and there connection to greenhouse plant physiology and environmental management inc:
    light a plants eye view (UV, PAR, LUX, Global, uMol/m2/s, Radiation Intensity & Sum)
    basic plant processes
    temperature & photosynthesis
    plant transpiration principles
    mollier diagram (psychometric chart)
    relative humidity vs. humidity deficit
    plant development
  2. Water Quality, EC & pH
    participants will be able to assess water quality, characteristics of different treatment systems and their application, and understand the principal factors involving EC & pH inc:
    hydroponic system requirements
    types of hydroponic systems
    factors influencing water demand
    osmosis and other root influences
    EC & pH change thru systems
    practical management
    raw water treatment systems
    water treatment options (RO, UV, UF, Chemical)
  3. Greenhouse Environmental Management
    participants will be able to understand the principal factors affecting environmental management principles, systems and their management inc:
    outside conditions effects on inside conditions (temp, rH, wind, radiation, rain)
    growers tools to influence environment (heating, cooling, fans, screens, climate control systems, fogging, etc)
    ventilation principles
    practical grower examples (case studies)
    temperature integration
  4. Plant Structure, Nutrition & Nutrient Management
    participants will be able to assess plant structure, photosynthesis, nutrition, characteristics of different root-zone factors and their application, and understand the principal factors involving Nutrient Management (including basic formula calculations) inc:
    functions of nutrient elements
    nutrient uptake principles
    plant disorder symptoms, deficiencies & toxicities
    nutrient management
    difference between root zone & input solutions
    interpretation of root zone nutrient analysis
    adjusting input solution based on drain analysis
  5. Irrigation, Media Manager
    Explores the impact irrigation strategies have on growing media and crop production (includes EC, pH, Water Content & Drain %)inc:
    irrigation strategies to match growing media
    irrigation strategies to match water uptake and drainage
    irrigation strategies to control root-zone Water Content & EC
    plant evaporation & transpiration
    practical calculations for irrigation capacity, required pump capacity, maximum number of valves
  6. Media Types & Characteristics
    Participants will be able to assess media types, characteristics, and their application, and understand the principal factors affecting their selection inc:
    ideal media properties
    void space, porosity, aeration, CEC, pH, etc
    commercial hydroponic media types and their characteristics
  7. Crop Registration & Plant Balance, A Professional Approach To Growing.
    Explores the monitoring, recording & responding approach to good crop balance (includes “reading” a crop and tools to change balance)inc:
    managing plant balance
    crop assessment (evaluating a crop)
    crop steering (changing crop balance)
    crop reading (what a crop tells a grower)
    crop data collection and measurements
    plant vigour and balance chart
  8. Common Greenhouse Pests, Diseases, & IPM
    participants will be able to assess common pests and characteristics of different diseases, and understand the principal factors involving Integrated Pest Management and how to implement bio-controls to control common greenhouse pests (ie. spider mites, whitefly, thrips, fungus gnats, aphid, russet mite, broad mite, caterpillars, etc, inc:
    integrated pest management program
    sources of plant pests & diseases
    crop hygiene
    insect life cycles
    plant fungal, bacterial & virus conditions
    common physiological problems and their treatments
  9. CO2 Enrichment of Greenhouses.
    Explores the benefits, costs, geometry and equipment required to correctly enrich a greenhouse with carbon dioxide for maximum crop growth & quality inc:
    CO2 enrichment principles
    influence of light & temperature on CO2 enrichment
    enrichment technology options
    enrichment targets & strategies
    enrichment modelling with ‘Tomsim’ (CO2 crop modelling software)
  10. Recirculation, How To Convert To A Closed System.
    Explores how to convert a media based free-drainage system to a closed recirculation system. Demonstrates how growers can easily save 40% on water use, 60% on fertilizer use, maintain a balanced root-zone nutrition and become environmentally sound & responsible inc:
    design principles for closed systems
    savings and costs estimates
    calculate annual water and fertiliser savings
    pre EC setpoints calculations for various crops
    nutrition in closed systems
    comparing analysis with standard reference
    basis for corrective action
    sterilisation options costings
    sterilisation types (heat, UV, slow biological, Ozone and other chemical systems)
  11. Greenhouse Crop Protection Principles
    understand basic principles of crop spraying (calculate volume, speed and pressure) for high volume, low volume and ultra-low volume systems and a suitable vertical & horizontal spray system for greenhouses crops inc:
    chemical crop protection options (Dripping, Spraying / Fogging / LVM, Dusting, Sulphur Evaporators, Traps (lamps, lights, glue, pheromones)
    spray techniques and assessments
    calculate walking speed for vertical and horizontal spraying
    characteristics of a good greenhouse spray system

  12. Implement a Hydroponic Maintenance Program
    Monitor plant health, monitor the Hydroponic environment, monitor the nutrient solution, perform routine maintenance checks, maximising greenhouse efficiency and energy conservation inc:
    daily measurement schedule
    fertiliser measurement
    routine weekly, monthly & annual maintenance tasks
    preventative maintenance and frequency plan & log
    asset registers

  13. NFT Systems
    explores best practice model for modern Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) systems
    ‐ fundamental principles and system types
    ‐ Gulley Profiles (length, width, slope, etc)
    ‐ control & dosing equipment
    ‐ water, EC, pH, nutrition, oxygen management
    ‐ disease management & sterilisation options
    ‐ NFT system design principles
     Supplementary Course Topics

 13. Location, Siting and Layout of Greenhouse Systems
participants will be able to assess a site for suitability for hydroponic growing, and design a basic site layout plan.

14. Greenhouse Structures and Environmental Management
participants will be able to assess different greenhouse structures and their integration to environmental management.

15. Basic Hydroponic Systems & Components
participants will be able to identify basic hydroponic system types and their application, and understand the principal factors affecting hydroponic systems.

  1. Quality Assurance, OH&S, IT & Production Plan
    participants will be able to assess QA and OH&S programs, appreciate the management benefits of Information Technology and develop their own Production Plan
  2. Tomato Plant Management, Physical & Cultural Requirements.
    Explores best-practice techniques for best production (includes crop management planning, pollinating, de-leafing, truss pruning, cluster treatment, tying up, layering, picking, etc.)
  3. Implement a Plant Establishment Program
    Explores crop selection, plant populations, seedling propagation & marketing requirement
  4. New Greenhouse Investment & Technology Considerations
    Explore typical greenhouse technology, their costs and why they are used. Compare typical system prices for 1,000 and 10,000m2, and a Cost of Production worksheet for growers to calculate their costs versus income. (i.e. profit &/or loss expressed in both $/kg and $/m2)