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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Study soil management for crops and learn more about the importance of good soil management and nutrition

  • Soils are the foundation for any good horticulture; and this course as such is an essential training for anyone who seriously wants to grow crops.
  • Our tutors are there to help you every step of the way.
  • Learn from our highly experienced tutors.

  • This course is similar to our other soil management courses, but relates specifically to crops.

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Learn about soil maintenance and management for crops.  
  • We offer exceptional tutor support. Our horticulture faculty includes a dozen university trained professionals with decades of industry experience.
  • You have unlimited access to tutors over the phone or email during the course. 

Course Duration: 100 hours of self paced study.  Start at any time and work at your own pace.



There are 7 lessons as follows:

  1. Physical & Chemical Properties Of Soils
  2. Soil Testing Methods
  3. Sustainable Soil Management
  4. Soils & Managing Earthworks
  5. Land Degradation & Other Soil Problems
  6. Soil Science & Health
  7. Soil Management



  • Develop a broad understanding of the physical and chemical properties of soils.
  • Develop skills in sampling and field testing soils for basic physical and chemical properties.
  • Understand the principles, methods and techniques of sustainable soils management.
  • Understand the principles and practices of earthworks.
  • Understand causes and remediation methods of land degradation and soil problems.
  • Develop a broad knowledge in the use of growing containers for agriculture.
  • Develop strong understanding of soil science and its impact on plant growth.
  • Develop practical knowledge about managing soil for particular cropping uses.



  • Define terms related to the production and management of agricultural soil, such as manure, micorrhyzae, ameliorant, pore space, micro-nutrient, denitrification, ammonium fixation, chemo autrophic organisms, colloids, buffering capacity, leaching, compaction.
  • Create a compost heap.
  • Discuss ways that human activity can destroy soil structure.
  • Explain how pH affects nutrient availability.
  • Explain the function of different nutrients in soils/growing media, such at nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Analyse a soil test report in order to evaluate the soil for horticultural or agricultural use.
  • Describe appropriate soil testing methods for different situations.
  • Compare the use of organic and inorganic fertilisers in different situations.
  • Develop a detailed nutritional management plan for a particular crop, following organic principles.
  • Identify suitable earth moving equipment for different tasks, and the conditions of use.
  • Explain various methods for assessing drainage at a site.
  • Evaluate the use of earthworks to refurbish or improve a specific site.
  • Research Environmental Protection Agency (or equivalent) recommendations for cleaning up chemical spills and for disposing of old household chemicals and their containers.
  • Discuss advantages and problems of importing soil from elsewhere for crop production.
  • Explain appropriate methods of stabilising an unstable or erosion-prone slope.
  • Remove a soil profile, describe the different soil layers, and compare the effects of different soil treatments on the soil profile.
  • Report on prevention and control methods for soil degradation, and development of sustainable soil management practices in a case study.


Soil Quality Can Change without You even Realizing

To the untrained eye, soils can undergo big changes, without looking much different at all. If you don't understand the soil fully; you can find that crop production quantity or quality, can change over the course of a year or two, before it is even noticed.

Consider Chemical Changes

Chemicals can end up in crop areas, often without us realising it. These can get there in several ways including:

  • Spillages e.g. petrol spilled when using machinery or pesticides spilt during mixing. 
  • Leaching e.g. pesticides sprayed elsewhere may be washed off roads, driveways, footpaths, through water, etc. into other areas.
  • Leaks e.g. machinery such as cars and ride on mowers, etc. may leak oil.
  • Discards e.g. used water thrown out onto a crop growing are
  • Overspray e.g. weed killer sprays carrying further than you want.

Overcoming Chemical Damage

The first step to overcoming chemical damage is to prevent it occurring in the first place. Leaky machines can be fixed. Spills can be prevented by taking more care, or by filling machines and preparing chemicals, such as weed killer, in an area where a spill won't be a problem. For example, on a driveway where any spilt petrol would evaporate before being washed into a growing area. Overspray damage can be avoided or minimised by being careful about not spraying on windy days and by making sure you use well maintained and suitable spray equipment. Damage from discarded chemicals can simply be avoided by being careful about what you throw out, and where you throw it.

Once damage occurs, however, there are a number of ways to overcome or control the amount of damage that might occur. These include:

  • Carefully following any instructions relating to spills, etc. that may be supplied with the container in which the chemical was supplied.
  • Seek further advice from the product manufacturer or from a local Environment Protection Authority (or its equivalent in your country).
  • Leaching or flushing the contaminated area thoroughly with water. If the chemical is present in small quantities then this may reduce the concentration of the chemical to a level which will cause little or no damage. In some cases, however, particularly when heavy concentrations of the chemical are present, flushing the area with water will simply spread the problem.
  • Replacing damaged soil - areas can be carefully dug up and removed. Fresh topsoil is then used to fill in the excavated area and the area replanted, seeded or re-turfed.
    The soil removed from the damaged area should be disposed of carefully so that any chemicals won't create further damage. 
  • Contact your local council health officer or your state Environmental Protection Agency or your country's equivalent to find out where contaminated soil may be safely disposed.
  • Soaking up spilt chemicals with absorbent materials e.g. sawdust, sand.   
  • Growing tolerant plants. Growing a plant can help extract and break down some types of chemicals. 

When you understand soils and nutrition better, you will have improved your capacity to grow crops better. You ability to be a profitable and sustainable farmer of horticultural crops will be improved.


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.


  • You can start the course at any time and study at your own pace.
  • Fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support for all the time you are studying.
  • Study where you want to - online studies offer the flexibility for you to determine where and when you study. 




Go to “It’s Easy to Enrol” box at the top of the page and enrol now.


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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

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.
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.

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