Learn about growing root crops, such as potatoes, yams, carrots, and turnips.
Root crops such as potatoes, yams, and cassava grains are some of the most important food stuffs in global agriculture. They provide vital carbohydrates all over the developing world.
Growing root crops will enable farmers to improve
their farm's output and sustainability, aid world food security (for
both people and animals) and grow crops that require less water than
- Learn important differences and growing practices for many root crops, including - potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, salsify, turnips, carrots, daikon.
- Understand the difference between culinary root vegetables and true root vegetables.
- Learn how to distinguish between different pests and diseases.
- Learn about managing soils, scheduling crops, and much more.
Agronomy III is a 100 hour course, comprising 10 lessons:
1. Scope and Nature of Root Cropping and the Botany of Roots
2. Cultural Practices A: Soil Management, Crop Scheduling and Soil Water
3. Cultural Practices B: Weed control, Pest Management
5. Carrots and their Relatives
6. Turnips and their Relatives
8. Taro, Yams and Sweet Potato
9. Other Root Crops
10. Harvest and Post-Harvest Management
Each lesson ends with set tasks and an assignment; assignments are submitted to our experienced, in-house academics for marking and feedback.
Start with Good Soil Conditions
As you progress through this course, you will discover that despite differences between the cultural needs of different types of root crops; most (generally speaking) will only crop well if drainage conditions are good.
Most root vegetables prefer a deep, sandy loam soil although potatoes and other tubers will grow well in other soils (loams, clay loams), as long as they are not too heavy. For root vegetables with a tap root, such as carrots, parsnips and parsley root, and also potatoes, you need a depth of 20- 30cm. For potatoes, you will need the ability to ‘hill-up’ the plants with soil as they grow to prevent greening. Some gardeners use a thick layer of mulch around potatoes and top it up regularly as the plant adds height.
Good drainage is vital for successful vegetable growing. Root vegetables in particular do not like badly drained soils – it causes rot and promotes bacterial root rot which, once established in the soil, is very difficult to treat and usually means years of fallowing. If you have clay soil or if your site is in a low-lying area, then prepare a raised growing bed (30cm above the natural ground level). You can do this by heaping the soil up into mounds and tapering the edges so that the beds remain stable during heavy rainfall. Alternatively use retaining materials such as sleepers, bricks, ACQ treated pine and hardwood timber. Provide sufficient drainage holes at the base of the bed so water can readily drain out from behind the retaining material. Slotted drains (agricultural pipes) may be needed if poor drainage prevails.
How to Prepare for Planting
- Destroy all weeds. Establishing weed control early will mean less work later and a better crop. Dig out and remove the entire root system of perennial weeds, particularly bulbs from weeds such as oxalis, knotgrass and onion weeds. Remove annual weeds as they appear and are just large enough to handle. Don’t let them flower, as this increases spread.
- Thoroughly cultivate the soil and incorporate well decomposed compost to a depth of 15cm – 20cm. Do not add manures as most root vegetables either tend to fork if the soil is too nutritious or develop scab or other problems in heavily manured soils. Root crops such as carrots and parsnips may need the soil cultivated deeper or a raised bed with additional soil.
- Leave for a week then ideally test for pH (simple pH test kits are available from your local nursery). The ideal pH for healthy vegetables is between 6 and 8. Later notes provide more information on the ideal pH for individual crops.
- Correct the pH if necessary (according to the root crop you are planting) by incorporating lime or dolomite into the soil to raise pH, or sulphur to lower it. Make sure you check first because some vegetables, such as potatoes, develop scab in neutral to lime soil (i.e. soils with a pH of and above pH7).
- Continue cultivation with a fork, cultivator or rake to kill all weeds and produce a fine crumbly-textured, open soil.
Note: In poor soils, it is beneficial to grow a cover/green manure crop to improve the soil fertility and structure. However, do not grow root crops i.e. carrots and parsnips after the addition of manure or a cover crop as it makes them fork. Grow and harvest leafy crops first then sow root crops such as carrots/parsnips (without any more additives) as the following crop.
HOW THE COURSE WORKS
You can start the course at any time.
It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies. Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.
Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor. The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading.
STUDYING WITH ACS
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Your 'learning package' includes:
- Course notes.
- Self-assessment quizzes.
- Assignment feedback.
- You can interact one on one with a professional tutor with decades of experience - just email, phone or log on to chat to connect with them.
Enrolling is easy - just select your payment option and study method - choose the online option for a 5% discount on the course cost.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM DOING THIS COURSE?
- Farmers and farm workers
- Farm equipment and service suppliers
- Agriculture students and professionals
- Small farm or hobby farm owners considering new 'niche' crops
- Livestock owners/managers, wanting to produce animal feeds
Our tutors are more than happy to help and advise you with any questions regarding the course. Please contact us if you have any questions at all.
Learn about growing root crops - learn about managing soils, crop scheduling, harvesting and much more. Study by distance learning - fit your studies around your work. Why delay? Get started today.
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