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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE - BAG215

Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Home Study Sustainable Agriculture Course

  • Understand how to develop your produce using sustainable agriculture.
  • Develop your knowledge of the underlying principles.
  • A must for anyone wanting to develop their farm in an agriculturally sustainable way.
  • Taught by highly qualified and experienced tutors.
  • Study in your time and at your own pace.

Today the pressure is on for more and more farmers to work towards sustainable systems of farming which produce healthy, nutritious, affordable food and a dependable, secure food supply -without producing a negative impact on the environment. Sustainable farms should protect the environment, preserve open spaces, forests and wildlife and also encourage and conserve biodiversity, plus provide the farmer and farm workers with a good living.


Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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Sustainable Agriculture distance learning course - a detailed course looking at sustainable farming practices.

This course is aimed at those who want to help the world move towards the preservation of our natural resources and to maintain the delicate balance of our ecosystems. Economic, commercial, marketing and production techniques are explored in a multifaceted way to help move a farm towards improved sustainability.

Sustainable agricultural practices must not impact negatively on the environment therefore this course encourages:

  • The investigation of how farming practices impacts on and shapes the future of the environment
  • Farming practices that suit the local environment and reduce the impact on it
  • Examination of the best use of natural resources; the use of water in production; preservation of soil quality; responsible use of chemicals and fertilizers; reducing the potential for salinity and pollution of waterways.
  • The conservation of biodiversity
  • Long term improvements in productivity
  • Social improvement, through sustainable practices (both monetary and non- monetary)
  • Flexibility and risk management (in fluctuating markets and climate variations)

COURSE STRUCTURE

There are 8 lessons as follows:

Lesson 1 - Introduction
  • Sustainable ways of farming
  • Whole farm planning
  • Land Management programs
  • Sustainable ways of farming
  • Natural farming
  • Organic farming
  • Permaculture
  • No Dig techniques
  • Biodynamics
Lesson 2 - Soils
  • Growing media
  • Major types of soil problems
  • Soil structural decline
  • Erosion
  • Salinity
  • Acidification
  • Soil improvements
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Adding organic matter to soils
  • Cultivation techniques
  • Conservation tillage
  • Plant nutrition
  • Soil life
  • Cover crops
Lesson 3 -Water
  • Types of water storage
  • Livestock water requirements
  • Water problems
  • Water quality
  • Reed beds
  • Water saving measures
  • Recycling
  • Swales and keylines
  • Irrigation systems
Lesson 4 - Land Care
  • Weed Management
  • Preventative measures
  • Tree management
  • Timber lots/plantations
  • Wind breaks
  • Wildlife corridors
  • Wildlife habitats
  • Pest and diseases
Lesson 5 - Financial Sustainability
  • Economic principles
  • Developing a Farm Business Plan
  • Financial plan
  • Controlling growth
  • Value adding
  • Enterprise mix
  • Eco-tourism
Lesson 6 - Broad Management Strategies
  • Toward better planning
  • Land care or land management
  • New enterprises
  • Broad management categories
  • Marketing
  • Personal welfare
  • Plan drawing of farm
  • Looking at risk
  • Quality systems
Lesson 7 - Plant Enterprises
  • Crop management
  • Hydroponic fodder
  • Hay
  • Considering new crops
  • Nuts
  • Organic farming
  • Agro-forestry
  • Hydroponics
  • Herbs
Lesson 8 - Animal Enterprises
  • Deer
  • Ostriches
  • Emus
  • Alpacas
  • llama
  • Goats
  • Aquaculture
  • Wool and meat production
  • Horses

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

COURSE AIMS

  • Understand the broad possibilities for improving sustainability on farms.
  • Understand how to avoid serious degradation of soils on a farm through sustainable management.
  • Understand the broad possibilities for improving sustainability on farms.
  • Understand how to avoid too serious degradation of soils on a farm through water management.
  • Understand Economic Rules that apply to a farm Enterprise.
  • Crop management techniques for sustainability.
  • Minimising degradation through planning and management.
  • Evaluate the financial viability and potential of animal enterprises.

WHAT THE COURSE COVERS

 Here are just some of the things you may be doing:

  • Investigate what is being done for improving agricultural sustainability in your country or region.
  • Contact different organisations or farmers and find out what you can about attitudes & resources available to assist with improving sustainability in your chosen area/Country/region.
  • Investigate whether an organic certification scheme operates in your country, and if so, find out what is involved currently in attaining that certification for a farm.
  • Obtain either literature or advice relating to the management to soil degradation in your locality.
  • Identify the most important issues that farmers need to address in a region within approximately 100 km( or 50 miles )of your home; in order to remain financially viable over the next two decades
  • Distinguish between hydroponics, permaculture, biodynamics and certified organic farming.
  • Identify a farm situation where it might be appropriate to convert to either permaculture, biodynamics or certified organic system.
  • What is being done to improve sustainability of agriculture in the region, country or state of your choice.
  • Obtain information from your local government department or irrigation supply company. Find out what the local water quality is like and how it was measured.
  • Explain how you can test your local water supply for contaminants. What contaminants were found? eg. Bacteria, heavy metals, silt etc.
  • Outline how can these contaminants be removed from the local water supply e.g. filtration, chemicals, etc.
  • Identify cost effective means by which contamination can be prevented.
  • Identify types of water catchment in your local area. e.g. dams, streams, creeks etc.
  • Find out what types of conservation are being practised in your local area.
  • Outline methods of pest control being practised in your area.
  • Describe methods of weed control used in your area.
  • Identify and describe any natural control methods being used in your area.
  • Research tourism activities are available in your local area.
  • Investigate planning and advisory services in your local area.
  • Investigate existing animal enterprises in your local area and the economic impact.

What is the Future of Farming?

First there was subsistence farming. Then there was a technological revolution: developments in machinery and chemicals allowed us to clear and cultivate land faster, feed plants and animals quicker (and grow them faster); and kill pests or diseases quickly. These new found abilities seemed like a godsend to mankind; and throughout the 20th century we have used them to their fullest, generally with little regard for any unforeseen repercussions.

Gradually, time has revealed a variety of problems caused by this modern agricultural development; including; chemical residues affecting plant and animal life on land and in the sea, soil degradation in the form of soil structural decline, erosion, salinity, soil acidification, loss of fertility, nutrient loading of waterways, dams and lakes and more. 

As we move into the 21st century; and concern about our environment grows, there is an obvious move towards more sustainable farming.

Sustainable farming is in essence concerned with anything that affects the sustainability of a farm. You cannot keep farming a property indefinitely, if there is a degradation of resources (environmental resources, financial resources, equipment, machinery, materials, or any other resources). In the short to medium term, the problem of sustainability is overwhelmingly a financial one; but in the long term, environmental sustainability will have perhaps more impact than anything else upon the whole industry.

Why Change?

The world is changing. You cannot avoid change. If we can't sustain agricultural production, we will eventually see a decline in production; hence a decline in food and other supplies. There is no escaping the fact that people need agricultural products to survive; for food, clothing, etc. Science may be able to introduce substitutes (e.g. synthetic fibres); but even the raw materials to make these will generally be limited. The world’s population is increasing (or at best remaining stable in some places); hence demand for agricultural produce is increasing. Poorly maintained farms produce less in terms of quantity and quality. Profitability decreases means that surplus money is no longer available for repair and improvements. Farm land can become contaminated with chemical residues, weeds or vermin. The amount of vegetation produced (i.e. the biomass), may reduce, resulting in less production of carbon dioxide, and a greater susceptibility to environmental degradation.

We have created a world that relies heavily on technology to produce the food needed to sustain its human population. There is a worldwide dilemma. To abandon modern farming methods could result in world wide famine, but to continue current practices will almost certainly result in long term degradation of farmland; and eventually, the inability to sustain even current human population levels, without even considering future increases in the human population. 

Today the pressure is on for more and more farmers to work towards sustainable systems of farming which produce healthy, nutritious, affordable food and a dependable, secure food supply -without producing a negative impact on the environment. Sustainable farms should protect the environment, preserve open spaces, forests and wildlife and also encourage and conserve biodiversity, plus provide the farmer and farm workers with a good living.

This course is aimed at those who want to help the world move towards the preservation of our natural resources and to maintain the delicate balance of our ecosystems. Economic, commercial, marketing and production techniques are explored in a multifaceted way to help move a farm towards improved sustainability.

Sustainable agricultural practices must not impact negatively on the environment -

This course encourages:

  • The investigation of how farming practices impacts on and shapes the future of the environment.
  • Farming practices that suit the local environment and reduce the impact on it.
  • Examination of the best use of natural resources; the use of water in production; preservation of soil quality; responsible use of chemicals and fertilizers; reducing the potential for salinity and pollution of waterways.
  • The conservation of biodiversity.
  • Long term improvements in productivity.
  • Social improvement, through sustainable practices (both monetary and non- monetary).
  • Flexibility and risk management (in fluctuating markets and climate variations).

Enrol on Sustainable Agriculture Today

You can enrol at any time, but if you have any questions or want to know more about the course - get in touch with us today,

Phone us on (UK) 01384 442752 or (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Submit your questions to our specialist Agriculture tutors, they will be happy to answer your questions or help you in choosing which course to study with ACS.

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (general)P.G.Cert. Ed., M.Ecotourism, S.Sc. (Hons). Alison has held many positions including: University Lecturer, Writer, Quality Assurance Manager, Research Technician, Vet Nurse and stockwoman. Over 30 years industry experience, mostly in Australia and the UK.. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has managed veterinary operating theatre, responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.


Check out our eBooks

Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Farm ManagementThe Farm Management ebook is a valuable piece of equipment for any farming student or current farmer. Improve your farm management skills or learn new skills and techniques. The topics covered within this Farm Management ebook include 1/ Scope and nature of the farm industry, 2/ The farm site, 3/ Production systems, 4/ Managing livestock, 5/ Managing pasture, 6/ Managing crops, 7/ Managing equipment and materials, 8/ Computer applications, 9/ Farm structures and buildings, 10/ Financial management, 11/ Marketing, 12/ Farm planning, 13/ Staff management, 14/ Water management and 15/ Diversification.
Commercial HydroponicsThe Commercial Hydroponics ebook is ideal for students, professional horticulturalists and those who want to build a strong foundation knowledge in hydroponics. The commercial hydroponics ebook explains how to set up a commercial hydroponics system, including growing techniques and equipment that you will need. The topics covered in this book include an introduction to hydroponics, site considerations, alternatives, plant nutrition, nutrient film technique culture, rockwool culture, aggregate culture, other techniques, hydroponics equipment, greenhouse operation, plant culture in hydroponics, Vegetable crops, berry and other fruit crops, flower crops, other crops, managing a commercial hydroponic farm and a troubleshooting guide.
Profitable FarmingDiscover new ways to make money from your farm and broaden your perspective on the farming industry. A few things in life are certain; change is inevitable and people need to eat. Learn to embrace change as an opportunity and improve your ability to forge a sustainable career in farming.