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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn to Grow Oil Crops:

  • Arable Farms
  • Small holdings
  • Oils for cooking, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and more

It's easy to enrol...

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Learn to Grow Oil Crops:

  • For Arable Farming
  • On Small holdings
  • or anywhere else

Plant oils are used for:

  • Edible oils
  • Biofuels
  • Cosmetics, personal hygiene and pharmaceuticals
  • Cleaning products, lubricants, repellents and more

What can this course do for you?

Develop a broader and deeper understanding of plants that are viable to grow for oil production

Make better choices about what to grow and how to grow it, in a more holistic understanding of not only how different crop options are grown, but how they are processed, managed (post-harvest) and marketed.



This course has nine lessons:

Lesson 1: Nature & scope of oil crops

  • What are plant oils?
  • Essential oils
  • Plant oil crops & uses
  • Vegetable oil uses
  • Essential oil uses
  • Economic value of oil crops
  • What crops can be grown where?

Lesson 2: Oil Extraction

  • Introduction
  • Oil seed processing
  • Mechanical processing
  • Chemical processing
  • Other processing methods
  • Distillation
  • Simple distillation
  • Steam distillation
  • Fractional distillation
  • Vacuum distillation
  • Molecular distillation
  • Extractive distillation
  • Membrane distillation

Lesson 3: Canola and Rapeseed

  • Characteristics of canola
  • World production
  • Growing canola
  • Using seed
  • Soil types
  • Soil preparation
  • Sowing
  • Growth stages
  • Environmental stresses
  • Nutrition
  • Irrigation management
  • Weeds
  • Pest control
  • Diseases
  • Harvesting
  • Storage
  • Processing

Lesson 4: Olive Oil

  • Characteristics of olive oil
  • World production
  • Growing olives
  • Using seedlings
  • Soil types
  • Soil preparation
  • Planting
  • Pruning
  • Growing conditions
  • Varieties
  • Nutrition
  • Irrigation management
  • Weeds
  • Pest control
  • Diseases
  • Organic production
  • Harvesting
  • Storage
  • Processing

Lesson 5: Other Edible Oils

  • Growing conditions
  • Organic matter
  • Soil texture
  • Subsoil PH
  • Soil water available to plants
  • Slope of the topography
  • Natural soil drainage
  • Maintaining good soil structure
  • Growing edible oil crops
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
  • Flax/linseed (Linum usitatissimum)
  • Soybean/soya bean (Glycine max)
  • Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea)

Lesson 6: Herbal and pharmaceutical oils

  • Introduction
  • Pros and cons of herbal medicine & nutraceuticals
  • Essential oils
  • General guidelines for growing herbs for essential oils
  • Planting
  • Agronomy
  • Improved herbs and essential oils
  • Growing select crops for cosmetic or pharmaceutical oils
  • Avocado (Persea americana)
  • Mint (Mentha arvensis)
  • Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)
  • Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis)

Lesson 7: Biofuel and other Industrial Oils

  • Biofuel production
  • Vegetable oils and genetic modification
  • Extraction of oils from plants
  • GMO crops
  • Oleic acid
  • Oil palm trees
  • Novel fatty acids
  • Chemical and biotechnological transformations of basic industrial oils
  • Key targets for future industrial oil crops
  • Unusual fatty acids
  • Industrial importance
  • Growing select crops for biofuels and other industrial uses
  • Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
  • Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
  • Camelina (Camelina sativa)
  • Crambe (Crambe abyssinica)

Lesson 8: Issues, Risks, Optimising success

  • Successful farming
  • Capital
  • Profitability
  • Risk management
  • Succession
  • Entrepreneurial skills of farmers
  • Production management
  • Developing a farming business plan
  • Goals and mission
  • Asset planning
  • Land
  • Irrigation water
  • Livestock
  • Farm management
  • Labour and machinery
  • Capital
  • Soil testing
  • Produce selection
  • Integrated pest management
  • Integrated weed management
  • Grain storage

Lesson 9: Product Development and Management

  • Oilseed production and extraction yields
  • Oil fatty acid composition and biodiesel
  • Oil extraction and biodiesel processing
  • On-farm oil seed processing


Learning is a Process

You can read a book about oil crops but reading alone doesn't ensure you remember or remain alert to what you read.

This course is a carefully designed learning journey, fashioned to take you through a series of encounters with oil producing plants, gradually building, then reinforcing and deepening your understanding and awareness of the subject so that you will eventually appreciate and remember how to grow and manage oil crops for many years beyond completing these studies.


The biggest choice confronting any grower is what species and cultivars to grow. Making such a decision must always start with knowing the options to consider. Some crops can be eliminated from consideration quickly, because they do not suit the locality, or the economic viability of that crop in the market is poor.

Taking this course can be a way to fast track your awareness of the options, and your capacity to make better, faster choices of what to grow.

Consider costs of production and processing in particular. You might be considering integrating oil crops into an existing farm growing system by way of crop rotations, or perhaps changing direction towards growing only oilseed crops. Maybe you have plans to start a new oilseed farm or you are a farm manager looking at new opportunities. Whatever the situation, having a good idea about costs is necessary to minimise risks and make wise decisions.

Why Study Agronomy V?

  • This course is ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about producing oil crops.  You might be someone new to farming and agronomy or someone already working in agronomy, this course will provide you with specialist and useful knowledge.
  • Specialist training in agronomy can be useful for promotion and career prospects in the agricultural industry.
  • Improve your job and career prospects by studying a specialist course in agronomy and oil crops.
  • The course is also studied by online or distance learning, so you can study at a time and location to suit you, studying this self-paced course.
  • Learn with industry experts with real world agricultural experience.

Any Questions?

Our agronomy tutors are happy to answer any questions you may have about the course.

Please click here to contact a tutor


Request a course handbook here.




Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
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) .
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.

Check out our eBooks

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.
Starting a BusinessBusinesses don't need to fail! This is concise, easy to read, and alerts you to all of the things that commonly make a difference to business success or failure. Seven chapters are: “A Reality Check”, “The Product or service”, “Managing a Business”, “How to Find Customers”, “How to Make a Sale”, “Delivering the Product or Service”, “Pitfalls to Avoid”.
WeedsThis book helps you understand different types of weeds, and how to control them. Many of the more commonly occurring weeds around the world are both illustrated and described.
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.