Accredited Online Courses

This issue marks a special partnership between Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE (GOTAFE) and Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses magazine, to offer a series of TAFE-accredited online courses to our readers worldwide. The first online course, Certificate III in Production Horticulture, will be launched at the forthcoming Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA2015) in Abu Dhabi on 9 March 2015.

The successful completion of the Certificate III in Production Horticulture is the first step towards a Certificate IV in Production Horticulture—this qualification allows individuals to develop post-trade skills and knowledge to become specialists within the production horticulture industry.

The Certificate III in Production Horticulture is designed for both experienced people and new entrants employed in the production horticultural industry, in sectors such as hydroponic and protected cropping fruit, vegetable, berry and cut-flower production, to update and/or formalise their skills. It is particularly aimed at owner/managers and farm hands.

The core and elective training modules that make up the online course are so designed to allow participants to follow individual pathways relevant to job outcomes in the production horticulture industry. The core unit focuses on Occupational, Health & Safety (OH&S) policies and procedures that define the standards for on-farm operations. The three elective units cover topics such as the hydroponic environment and the nutrient solution, regulating crops (pruning, record-keeping, scouting etc), co-ordinating crop harvesting, and the process of controlling plant pests, diseases and disorders, taking into account integrated pest management options.

On completion of the online course, graduates will be able to install hydroponic systems, implement a plant nutrition program, install irrigation systems, operate fertigation equipment, implement a propagation plan, collect and record production data, operate/maintain machinery and equipment in a workplace-based environment, and co-ordinate work site activities, among other on-farm activities.

There are no admission requirements for this online course; however, participants should have basic literacy and numeracy skills and be employed or seeking a career path in a relevant horticultural business. The GOTAFE Certificate III is the first Australian accredited Production Horticulture course to be offered online to overseas participants.

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Our story on the unfolding frozen berry hepatitis A scare in Australia is not only about improving food labelling laws on imported produce, but also about food safety standards. It’s farcical that Australia’s clean, green image is being trashed by overseas food suppliers not subject to the same on-farm food safety standards as Australian growers, and jeopardising public health along the way.

These issues have long been on the table and it’s time for regulators to stop pandering to business and political interests and legislate for clear, unambiguous food labelling laws. With regard to food safety, we can only hope that farms overseas supplying Australian markets are meeting the same food safety standards as Australian growers. The safest guarantee is to buy locally grown produce!   Ω

PH&G March 20215 / Issue 153