Keen to grow your own veggies and herbs, but have no room for a garden at home? Then hydroponics is your go-to solution! Derived from the Greek words “hydra” meaning water and “ponos” meaning labour, hydroponics is essentially the process of growing plants without soil. But in order to do this, you need a good understanding of how plants grow, so you can control what Mother Nature does so well — controlling light, water, humidity, oxygen, nutrients and temperature.
Ideal for home gardeners who are keen to set up a basic hydroponic system (and limit the heavy labour many gardens require!), the Certificate of Hydroponics will teach you how to grow everything from flowers and berries to vegetables and herbs.
In hydroponics courses like ours, you will learn how to manage a plant’s nutrition, control pests and diseases, and dry, cool, freeze and store plants. You will also study how to operate and manage a greenhouse, plan your own hydroponic enterprise, and grow plants for longer periods of the year … without soil, but with H2O!
Outcomes achieved by undertaking hydroponics courses online include:
- Learning about hydroponic systems
- Exploring the global hydroponic industry
- Studying its comparison to plants growing in soil
- Gaining insights into resources and contacts
- Examining how a plant grows
- Understanding plant structure
- Learning about biochemistry and biochemical cell processes
- Exploring the mechanisms of nutrient uptake
- Studying photosynthesis, minerals and nutrients
- Gaining insights into the role of pH in plant growth
- Examining hydroponic nutrient solutions and how to prepare them
- Understanding hydroponic systems, location, equipment and soil-less mixes
- Learning about rockwool – its properties and manufacture
- Exploring propagating blocks – recommended practices, application and development
- Studying nutrient film techniques (NFT)
- Gaining insights into alternative layouts for NFT
- Understanding the methods of solution dispensation and closed and open systems
- Learning about nutrition, nutrition management and the nutrient formulae
- Exploring atoms, elements, compounds and chemical names
- Gaining an understanding of calculating formulae
- Studying how to mix nutrients and the symptoms of nutrient deficiency
- Gaining insights into adjusting the pH
- Examining conductivity and how to use conductivity measures
- Understanding plant culture and how to flow chart the crop
- Learning about controllers – salinity, pH and atmosphere
- Exploring post-harvest storage – cooling, drying, vacuum storage, freeze drying
- Studying pests and diseases in controlled environments
- Gaining insights into fungi and common fungal problems
- Examining legislation and biological and integrated pest management
- Understanding major pests, diseases and disorders or crops
- Learning about leaf hoppers – thrip, virus, bacteria, caterpillars, harlequin bugs etc.
- Exploring the commercial cultivation of vegetables and vegetable families
- Studying propagation, temperatures for seed germination and optimum monthly temperatures
- Gaining insights into harvesting, materials and handling
- Learning about greenhouse cooling and fog
Best Plants to Grow Hydroponically
As you will learn in hydroponics courses, with adequate lighting and the right plant nutrition many plants can be harvested faster than those grown in an outside garden. But if you’re a novice and a little nervous about starting your hydroponic journey, what sort of plants are best grown hydroponically?
- Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus
- Peppermint – Mentha piperita
- Green mint – Mentha
- Oregano – Origanum vulgare
- Basil – Ocimum basilicum
- Sage – Salvia officinalis
- Stevia – Stevia rebaudiana
- Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis
- Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis
- Lettuce – Lactuca sativa
- Spinach – Spinacia oleracea
- Bok Choy – Brassica chinensis
- Tomatoes – Solanum lycopersicum
- Peppers – Capsicum
- Cucumber – Cucumis sativus
- Celery – Apium graveolens
- Devil’s Ivy – Epipremnum aureum
- Arrowhead Vine – Syngonium podophyllum
- Philodendron – Philodendron bipinnatifidum
- Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum
- Chinese Money Plant – Pilea peperomioides
- Female Dragon – Dracaena draco
- Leopard Lily – Dieffenbachia
- Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema commutatum
- Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum
Hydroponic Farming in Australia
Undertaking hydroponics courses has become increasingly popular, and given the advancement of the industry in Australia, it’s not surprising! The industry’s capacity to grow crops during different seasons and under varied weather conditions has enabled it to thrive, despite fluctuating rainfall.
Sundrop Farms in South Australia is a leading (and award winning) horticultural player in Australia producing high-value fruit using renewable sources. In fact, in 2020, it won Sustainability and Business Excellence awards in the SA Premiers Food Awards, and was one of Coles Fresh Produce Suppliers of the Year.
The Sundrop Farms’ system uses the sun’s energy to produce fresh water for irrigation, which is then turned into electricity to power their greenhouses require to heat and cool their crops. Key elements of the system include:
- Sun – Sunlight is the vital first step of the process, from harvesting its energy and running their solar energy systems to providing the light needed to produce their high quality produce.
- Sea water – Seawater is drawn from the nearby Spencer Gulf to provide water for their evaporative cooling systems and to feed their desalination plan.
- Solar energy systems – Their Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system reduces the reliance on fossil fuels by producing water, heat and electricity for greenhouse use.
- Electricity – Steam generated from their CSP system is fed into a steam turbine to provide the electricity needed to power critical equipment in their greenhouses.
- Desalination – Using seawater drawn from the Spencer Gulf and heat from their CSP system, their Multi Effect Distillation system produces fresh water to irrigate their
- Fresh water – This is produced on-site, supplemented with town water and combined with nutrients to irrigate their
- Greenhouses – Their best-in-class greenhouses provide the ideal growing environment to produce high quality fruit and provide barriers to disease and pests that are more prevalent in open field farming.
History of Hydroponic Farming
When you study hydroponics courses like our Certificate of Hydroponics, one of the topics you will cover is the history of hydroponics. As a farming system, many believed it started in the ancient city of Babylon with its famous hanging gardens — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built in the 6th century, they relied exclusively on the Euphrates River as their source of irrigation, as soil was devoid in the arid desert.
In the 10th century, the floating gardens of the Aztecs of Central America are another example of early hydroponics systems. Denied land by their more powerful neighbours, they built rafts of reeds and rushes (called Chinampas), dredged up soil from the bottom of Lake Tenochtitlan and piled it onto these rafts. Because of the variety of organic debris, the rafts produced abundant crops of vegetables.
By the 16th century, Belgian Jan van Helmont was recording the earliest known science-based research on hydroponics, noting that water delivered nutrients to plants. In 1699, Englishman John Woodward built on van Helmont’s work by creating the world’s first hydroponics nutrient solution. He concluded that the beneficial nutrients in water essential for plant growth was more accessible than in soil.
In the late 1920s, American Dr. William F. Gericke extended laboratory experiments to further studies on nutrition in commercial crops growing outside. He coined the term “hydroponics” and his work is the basis for modern hydroponic growth.
In 1936, Gericke and J. R. Travernetti published an account of the successful cultivation of tomatoes in a water and nutrient solution.
During the late 1940s, Alice P. and Robert B. Withrow developed a more practical hydroponic method using inert gravel as a rooting medium. This method later is sometimes referred to as “nutriculture”.
During World War II
During World War II, this method of hydroponics became a viable source for fresh vegetables for the U. S. Armed Forces. One of the first of several large hydroponics farms was built on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. The techniques developed on the island were used in later installations on various islands in the Pacific such as Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
During this same period, the Air Ministry in London took steps to commence soilless culture at the arid island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf and the desert base of Habbaniya in Iraq.
After World War II
After World War II, the military command continued to use hydroponics. They also established one of the world’s largest hydroponic installations, a 22-hectare project in Chofu, Japan. Covering 55 acres, it was designed to produce both seedlings and mature vegetables and it remained in operation for over 15 years.
Advances in hydroponics have grown tremendously in the last century, and we now fully understand that healthy plants require water, carbon dioxide, sunlight and nutrients to thrive.
Technology has advanced to allow the monitoring and automation of many aspects of the modern hydroponics greenhouse. Utilising environmental controllers allows growers to monitor essential data like carbon dioxide, heat, and light levels. Combining these with the full automation of airflow and irrigation, the “smart” hydroponics farm is far more efficient than their predecessors.
The use of agricultural technology (or Agtech) including machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) is also increasing hydroponics’ benefits, including increased yields, quicker growth cycles and a reduction in resource waste.
Use you passion for applying technology to grow vegetables, herbs and other plants with hydroponics courses, such as ourCertificate of Hydroponics.