Intuitive Online Farm Safety Program

The Internet as an education tool continues to throw up new training concepts. The latest is a pre-employment 40-minute intuitive online farm safety induction program, which is targeted at field and seasonal workers, and backpackers working the harvest trail.

The SafeFarm HortCard course covers a range of topics needed to allow you to work safely in a horticultural environment as well as helping farmers, contractors and other employers to meet their legal obligations around employee induction and safety training. A growing number of employers are now insisting on potential employees having completed their HortCard training prior to working on their farming operations.

The HortCard induction program is presented in a multimedia style presentation and includes a professional voice narrative. The course covers farm safety awareness, sun safety, personal protective equipment, machinery safety, safe lifting, rural job safety, emergency response, food safety and good manufacturing practice basics, and good manners.

The HortCard is the brainchild of Queensland-based OTrain (, which offer fully hosted, Cloud-based learning management systems designed to create, host, deploy, assess, record and report all your training needs. The HortCard course takes about 40 minutes and includes a 10 question assessment upon completion. A pass mark of 70% is required and all participants who achieve the pass mark or more are issued with a Certificate of Completion for their own records.

The cost of the course is $30. The course is also available offline. What makes this cloud-based training system interesting, is that the concept can be easily adapted for workers in the Protected Cropping Industry, and across other areas of farm management including chemical user training.

Plants need the right combination of nutrients to live, grow and reproduce. However, nutrient deficiencies or excesses in soilless systems can occur for a variety of reasons, including too little or too much of any one nutrient, nutrient elements competing against each other and water stress (particularly pH factors). Recognising symptoms of deficiencies or toxicities is key to diagnosing nutritional disorders, sometimes made more difficult by similar symptoms between deficiency and toxicity, and between some nutrient elements.

The textbooks tend to publish acute symptoms for nutrient disorders; however, it’s a moot point that studies are almost always conducted in greenhouses or growth chambers where the plants are grown in hydroponics and the nutrients are readily available. In these conditions, nutrients are readily available while present, but when depleted the plant suddenly faces an acute deficiency. Thus, hydroponic studies favour the development of acute deficiencies or toxicities. In real life, experienced growers usually recognise a nutrient problem before acute symptoms become apparent. In this issue, we examine the symptoms of deficiency and toxicity for the micronutrient manganese. In future issues, PH&G will look at other nutrient disorders in plants.  Ω

June 2016 / Issue 168