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Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate

Develop crop growing and management skills

For farmers or those looking to run a horticulture business.

  • Develop the skills required to manage a horticultural business, such as market gardens and orchards.
  • Develop your knowledge to identify, grow, process and market crops and crop related products.
  • Specialise in an area of interest to you - choose a Crops Module from a selection in order to specialise in part of your studies.
  • Undertake projects to test your skills and apply what you have learned.
  • Students are supported at every stage of their studies by our highly experienced and friendly tutors.

It's easy to enrol...

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Learn about crop production and business management

Study by distance learning, with the support and guidance of our specialist tutors. Learn more about -

  • Outdoor plant production
  • Plant protection
  • Marketing
  • Administration
  • Management

Focus part of your studies in areas of interest to you - select from a range of crops to study, such as berries, nuts, mushrooms and vegetables.

Do you want to manage or own your own farm producing crops? Then this course will help you to learn more ...


The Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Crops) comprises 3 parts:

  • Core Studies (4 Modules) - develop your knowledge in business, management, and marketing.
  • Stream Studies (3 Modules) - learn about plant production, and specialise with your choice from a selection of crop type modules.
  • Project - Problem Based Learning; this brings together what you will learn from Core and Stream studies. Workplace Projects give students the opportunity to build upon and strengthen their understanding of how to manage crop production in the real world.


There are 4 Core Modules, as listed below. Follow the links in the Module title to find out additional information on each.

Office Practices

Develop office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc. Eight lessons:

  1. The Modern Office
  2. Communication Systems
  3. Interpersonal Communications
  4. Phone Skills
  5. Writing Letters and Other Documents
  6. Computer Applications
  7. Office Organisation and Procedures
  8. Health and Safety in the Office

Business Operations

Develop your knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (e.g. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc.) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan. 6 lessons:

  1. Introduction
  2. Finance
  3. Financial Records
  4. Financial Management
  5. Business Planning
  6. Mistakes to avoid

Marketing Foundations

Gain a broad understanding of marketing and specific skills in writing advertisements, undertaking market research, developing an appropriate marketing plan and selling. 10 lessons:

  1. Marketing and the Business
  2. Scope of Marketing
  3. Target Marketing
  4. The Marketing Mix and Managing the Marketing Effort
  5. Product Presentation and Packaging
  6. Promotion Communication Skills
  7. Product Pricing and Distribution Pricing
  8. Customer Service
  9. Market Research
  10. Organisations


Learn about management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety. 7 lessons:

  1. Introduction and Organisational Structures
  2. Management Theories and Procedures
  3. Problem Solving and Decision Making
  4. Management Styles and External Influences
  5. Employing People and Interview Skills
  6. Staff Management
  7. Ethics and Equity


The Stream Modules comprise 3 specialist units. Students study Outdoor Plant Production,  and Protected Plant Production, and then select a third module to specialise in. Details of the Stream Modules are shown below, along with the specialist option for the third module. Follow the links in each of the module titles for more detailed information.

Outdoor Plant Production

10 lessons:

  1. Crop Production Systems
  2. Organic Crop Production
  3. Soils and Nutrition
  4. Nursery Stock Production
  5. Tree Fruit Production
  6. Soft Fruits Production
  7. Vegetable Production
  8. Cut Flower Production
  9. Herbs, Nuts and Miscellaneous Crops
  10. Crop Production Risk Assessment

Protected Plant Production

10 lessons:

  1. Structures For Protected Cropping
  2. Environmental Control
  3. Cladding Materials And Their Properties
  4. Irrigation
  5. Nursery Nutrition
  6. Relationship Between Production Techniques And Horticultural Practices
  7. Horticultural Management In A Greenhouse: Pests And Diseases
  8. Harvest and Post Harvest Technology
  9. Greenhouse Plants
  10. Risk Assessment

Elected Module Option

Students are to select one module from the following. Follow the link in the module title for more detailed information on each one.

Cut Flower Production
Fruit Production - Temperate Climate
Fruit Production - Warm Climate
Commercial Vegetable Production
Nut Production
Mushroom Production
Berry Fruit Production

Please note course fees do not include exam fees.


This is the final requirement that you must satisfy before receiving your award. There are various options available to you to satisfy this requirement, including the following:

Option 1

If you work in the cropping industry that you have been studying; you may submit a reference from your employer, in an effort to satisfy this industry (i.e. workplace project) requirement; on the basis of RPL (Recognition for Prior Learning), achieved through your current and past work experience.

The reference must indicate that you have skills and an awareness of your industry, which is sufficient for you to work in a position of responsibility.

Option 2

Workplace Projects I and II. These each involve a series of three Problem Based Learning projects. With problem-based learning, students are assessed on their ability to go through a well-structured problem solving process. Often, for example, the student is provided with a hypothetical problem, and a clearly designed pathway to follow, step by step, in order to work through that problem and produce a final report.

Research shows that PBL gives the learner greater long-term benefits than traditional learning, and many successful and progressive universities around the world use it in their courses. Graduates of courses including PBL elements advance faster and further in their careers.

Other benefits of PBL:

  • Develops critical and creative thinking
  • Creates effective problem-solvers
  • Increases motivation
  • Encourages lateral thinking
  • Improves communication and networking skills
  • Is based on real-life situations.
Option 3

If you do not work in the relevant industry, another option is to undertake a Workplace Project. Students will design this project in consultation with a tutor to involve industry based activities in the area of specialised study which they select to follow in the course. The project outcomes may take the form of a written report, folio, visuals or a mixture of forms.

Further information can be found on our Workplace Project page. Do not worry if you are not sure how this can be completed at this stage, as our tutors will provide all the assistance you need to help you in completing a Workplace Project totalling 200 hours (either one project or two 100 hour projects).


Some crop managers are good at the horticulture, but poor at business management, whilst others are good at business management, but lack an understanding of horticulture.

You need to be able to do both, and this is where this course will help. To succeed in a crop management business you will need to be able to:

  • Identify the resources available to you; and the limits of those resources (i.e. land, water, manpower, money, climate, marketing opportunities).
  • Make your crop selection choices based upon those which best fit the resources you have available.
  • Have the ability to grow what you choose. Some managers learn, others hire the right experts.
  • Have the ability to harvest, handle and sell what you produce.

Different types of crops have different needs in terms of light, water, sensitivity to strong winds, soil, nutrition, soil pH (acidity/alkalinity) etc. Some plants need cool soil and weather to grow well (such as the cucurbit vegetables) others must have warmth and mild temperatures or heat for the crop to ripen. Some fruits ripe on the plant only, others can be picked early and allowed to ripen on or off the parent plant. 

The size of the production garden or farm will depend both on how much space you have available, how much you want to produce, and the techniques you choose to use for production.

If land space is limited, and you want to optimise production, you will need to select plants that are highly productive in smaller spaces and use the appropriate techniques to grow them.

For Example:

  • You can grow more roses as cut flowers, using hydroponic methods, in a greenhouse per square metre than what can be grown in the open air in soil.
  • If you choose to grow walnuts, you are restricted to a minimum area per tree, and will need to wait many years before harvesting anything.
  • If you only want a small quantity of cabbages for home use, you might only need a tiny amount of land, but growing a commercially viable crop will require acreage.

People can grow viable commercial crops on as little as 500 sq. metres, but crop choice and growing methods can be limited due to space restrictions.

Light is Important

All plants need light to grow, but some do better with lower intensities or duration of light than others. Light can be important both in terms of how long the day is, and how bright the light is.

Some plants are burnt by too much direct sunlight over summer (particularly in warmer climates) or in hot spots (e.g. pots sitting on hot paving or plants in an unprotected greenhouse).

With many crops, the length of daylight affects the time at which the plant forms flowers or fruit. This is sometimes why vegetables go to seed before they are ready to harvest.

There are other reasons too:

  • Water shortage - that can cause plants to run to seed early.
  • By planting varieties out of season - it is very important to choose the right variety of vegetable to plant for the light conditions at any particular time of year; fruit might not form or ripen properly if it doesn't get adequate light.
  • Spacing - it is important to leave enough space between plants to allow adequate light to get in between them when the plants are fully grown.
  • Shade - in shaded areas, near buildings or large trees, you are restricted to shade loving crops, so either remove the trees or choose your crops carefully.

Temperature Can Be Critical Too

Most temperate climate herbs, vegetables and fruits grow best at temperatures between 15° and 25° Celsius, but need lower temperatures to trigger key aspects of their annual growth cycle. For example, most deciduous fruit trees require a period of cold weather to cause flower buds to form.

Excessively hot or cold weather can cause many vegetables to stop or start flowering or fruiting.

Tropical crops generally prefer temperatures between 22° and 30° Celsius, depending upon the crop, and often these will not tolerate low temperatures at all.

Learn Management and Horticultural Techniques from Our Experts

Our experts are here to share their knowledge and help you develop your own skills and understanding. Our courses have been extensively developed to be relevant to real world applications, and your learning is enhanced with the projects and practical elements included with this course.

You study by distance learning, and have the support of our specialist tutors at all times whilst you are studying. You can enrol on the Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Crops) at any time, and with online and eLearning study options as well as the flexibility of studying at your own pace you can fit your studies around existing work commitments.

Enrolling is easy - just go to the top of this page and select your study method and payment option.

If you have any questions about studying with ACS, or want to know more about any of our courses, get in touch with our specialist tutors today. They will be happy to answer your questions and look at different study options to fit in with your goals.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Towergate Insurance welcomes Professional Liability insurance applications from ACS graduates across all disciplines. Click here for more details.

Meet some of our academics

Dr Lynette Morgan (Horticulture)Lyn worked with Rivendell Mushroom Farm between 1986 and 88; and then as a research assistant and technician for a few years while undertaking university studies. In 1991 she graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Hons) which covered broad horticultural sciences, as well as nursery vegetable and fruit production. Throughout the 90's she worked in both the nursery industry and horticultural crop production, before establishing her own business "Suntec" which has built an exceptional international reputation providing consulting services; particularly in hydroponic crop production. Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
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.

Check out our eBooks

Food PreservingA great supplement for students of nutrition, self sufficiency or even horticulture, the Food Preserving ebook is a great introduction into all things preserving.
Growing and Knowing NutsDiscover the many different varieties of nuts that you many not have ever heard of. Learn unique ways of using nuts and cooking with nuts.
Growing & Using Capsicums & ChilliesDiscover the ideal growing conditions for the plants that will see you producing healthy plants and bumper crops. Learn to identify different varieties of chillies and capsicums and cook some great recipes with the fruit.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmIt's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. To work efficiently and profitably, a nursery or herb farm must be both well organised and properly managed. As with any business, it is essential to be confident enough to make firm decisions as and when needed. This e-book is your ticket to a fragrant future.