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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

A detailed introduction to Hydroponics.

  • Develop a sound understanding of the theory and practice of hydroponics.
  • This is a serious grounding for working in the hydroponic industry and concentrates on the horticulturally valuable crops, such as cut flowers and vegetables.


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Study hydroponics with this great introductory course. Written and tutored by renowned experts in the field!  


We have been teaching and collecting information on hydroponics since the early 1970's.
Our principal John Mason, is author of one of the world's best selling hydroponic books (Commercial Hydroponics has sold over 50,000 copies and is in it's 3rd edition since 1990).

Our tutor, Dr Lyn Morgan, is an internationally renowned expert on hydroponics, and a consultant who has worked across the world on commercial installations.

Hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil. It is the perfect way to avoid heavy, back breaking work, such as digging. Pests, diseases and weeds are generally much easier to control. Over the past few decades hydroponics has proven an ideal method for both keen amateur gardeners and commercial growers looking for an alternative way of producing plants.

With our Hydroponics I course, you will learn:

  • How to grow using hydroponics.
  • How to set up hydroponic systems.
  • Nutrient use in hydroponic systems.

This is the starting point for anyone serious hydroponic grower who is relatively new to the discipline. This course provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most experienced hydroponic experts available. Our principal John Mason, is author of Commercial Hydroponics (now in its 8th printing) and tutors include Dr Lyn Morgan, author and commercial hydroponic consultant.

Hydroponic Production is in many respects far more environmentally friendly, and sustainable than many other ways of growing horticultural crops. It usually involves using closed systems (so waste products cannot escape, uncontrolled, into the environment); and even though it can be relatively costly to set up, it can produce a lot more per square metre than growing in soil (hence it doesn't have such a large footprint on the environment).

  • Hydroponic production can adapt to climate change if need be.
  • Hydroponic production is less likely to contribute to climate change than some other forms of horticulture.

If you are serious about hydroponics; whether as a business, or a step toward self sufficiency; this course can be an excellent starting point.


Course Duration: 100 hours

Start Date: Start studying Hydroponics I at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 10 lessons as detailed, below.

1. Introduction

  • Hydroponic systems.
  • The global industry.
  • Comparison to growing in soil.
  • Resources and contacts.

2. How a Plant Grows

  • Plant structure.
  • Biochemistry.
  • Biochemical cell processes.
  • Mechanisms of nutrient uptake.
  • Photosynthesis.
  • Minerals and nutrients.
  • The role of pH in plant growth.
  • Hydroponic nutrient solutions.
  • Preparing nutrient solutions.

3. Hydroponic Systems

  • Location.
  • Equipment.
  • Systems.
  • Soilless mixes.
  • Rockwool.
  • Rockwool manufacture.
  • Rockwool properties.
  • Development of propagating blocks.
  • Propagation applications.
  • Recommended practices for propagation.
  • Nutrient film techniques.
  • Alternative layouts for NFT.
  • Methods of solution dispersion.
  • Closed and open systems.
  • Techniques.

4. Nutrition & Nutrition management

  • Understanding nutrient formulae.
  • Atoms, elements and compounds.
  • Chemical names.
  • What does a plant need?
  • Calculating formulae.
  • Mixing nutrients.
  • Symptoms of nutrient deficiency.
  • Recommendations for nutrient deficiency.
  • Adjusting the pH.
  • Using electrical conductivity measures.
  • Conductivity and hydroponics.

5. Plant Culture

  • Flow charting the crop.
  • Controllers - salinity controllers; pH controllers.
  • Post harvest storage - cooling; drying; canning/bottling; controlled atmosphere storage; relative humidity; vacuum storage; freeze drying; freezing.
  • Pest and diseases in controlled environments.
  • Fungi, common fungal problems.
  • Cultural controls.
  • Current legislation.
  • Biological and integrated pest management.
  • Beneficial agents.
  • Economic thresholds.
  • Methods of introduction.
  • Major pests, diseases and disorders of crops identified.
  • Problem solving and identification of illness.
  • Difficult to diagnose problems; leaf hoppers; thrip; virus; bacteria; caterpillars; harlequin bugs and more.

6. Hydroponic Vegetable Production

  • Commercial cultivation of vegetables.
  • Propagation.
  • Temperatures required for seed germination.
  • Optimum monthly temperatures for vegetable growth.
  • Harvesting vegetables.
  • Growing vegetables hydroponically.
  • Vegetable families.
  • Fresh-cut herbs in hydroponic culture.
  • Nutrient solution.
  • Materials and handling.
  • Notes on selected crops.

7. Hydroponic Cut Flower Production

  • Growing flowers in hydroponics.
  • Carbon dioxide.
  • Automation.
  • Flower varieties.
  • Indoor plants.

8. Solid Media vs Nutrient Film

  • Growing media.
  • NFT system choices; header tank or direct pumping; construction materials; solution delivery; capillary matting; channel width and length; slope; temperature.
  • Types of media; vermiculite; sand; perlite; expanded plastics; scoria; expanded clay; organic media; sawdust; peat moss; coir fibre; composted bark.
  • Indoor plants.
  • Plant directory.
  • Transplanting a pot grown plant into a hydroponic 'culture pot'.

9. Greenhouse Operation & Management

  • Growing crops in greenhouses.
  • Solar energy.
  • Greenhouses and other growing structures.
  • Nature of active solar heating systems; examples of solar greenhouse facilities.
  • Greenhouse management.
  • What you can grow.
  • Environmental factors that influence plant growth.
  • Plant needs.
  • Temperature control; heat loss; heaters; light factors; artificial light.
  • Horticultural management in a greenhouse.
  • Greenhouse benches.
  • Greenhouse cooling.
  • Fog.

10. Special Assignment

  • Plan a hydroponic enterprise.

On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain different hydroponic systems.
  • Select appropriate media for specified hydroponic crops.
  • Describe the equipment used in hydroponic systems.
  • Determine the management of nutrition in hydroponic systems.
  • Explain the management of a greenhouse in the production of a hydroponic crop.
  • Plan the establishment of hydroponic facility to satisfy specified criteria, both commercial and cultural.
  • Develop a management plan for a hydroponic facility.

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

  • Compare differences between open and closed hydroponic systems.
  • Differentiate between different types of hydroponic systems, including: NFT; Aeroponics; Aggregate culture; Rockwool; Manual systems; Automatic systems.
  • Compare the different characteristics, including: Establishment costs; Operational costs; Cultural practices; Appropriate plant varieties for three different hydroponic systems inspected by you.
  • Compile a resource file of forty sources of information regarding hydroponics, including: Publications; Suppliers of seed and/or planting stock; Industry associations; Hydroponic equipment; Hydroponic nutrients.
  • Collect samples of different types of hydroponic media available in a specified locality.
  • Compare the characteristics, including: Physical properties; Chemical properties; Unit cost, of different hydroponic media.
  • Select appropriate media to suit the cultural requirements of six specified types of plants.
  • Develop guidelines for growing a specified crop in three different types of media.
  • List equipment commonly used in hydroponic crop production.
  • Compare alternative equipment used in hydroponic systems, including: Two types of pH metres; Two types of EC metres; Three types of NFT channel; Two types of nutrient tanks; Two types of pumps; Two types of controllers.
  • Develop a procedure for the operation of equipment used to control the characteristics of hydroponic nutrient solutions.
  • Develop a procedure for the operation of equipment used to control the supply of hydroponic nutrient solutions.
  • Develop a routine maintenance program for hydroponic equipment, in a specified system.
  • Compare the differences between plant nutrient requirements in hydroponics with that of soil culture.
  • Compare the formulations of three commercially available hydroponic nutrient mixes.
  • Explain the reasons for keeping some components of concentrated nutrient solutions separated until ready for dispensing in a diluted form.
  • Determine the unique aspects of nutrient requirements, for six different specified plants.
  • Determine appropriate nutrient solutions to use, at different growth stages, for four different plants.
  • Describe factors that can cause different responses to the same nutrient, in the same plant.
  • Explain the significance of plant tissue analysis in determining a nutrient program.
  • Develop guidelines for the management of a nutrient solution in a specified hydroponic system.
  • Compare different greenhouses with respect to: Temperature control; Set up cost; Ongoing costs; Humidity control; Light transmission; Suitability for different crops.
  • Explain the operation of different environmental control equipment in a greenhouse, including: Heating; Cooling; Ventilation; Light control.
  • Develop criteria for selecting greenhouse crops for a specified hydroponic system in your locality.
  • Evaluate the viability of growing six specified crops hydroponically in a greenhouse, including: A vegetable; A fruit; A cut flower; A herb.
  • Determine criteria for selecting an appropriate hydroponic system for a specified crop and site.
  • Determine the components required to build two different specified hydroponic systems.
  • Design a hydroponic system for a specified situation.
  • Estimate the cost of constructing a specified hydroponic system.
  • Develop a work schedule for the installation of a specified hydroponic system.
  • Develop guidelines for starting up a new, specified hydroponic system.
  • Determine crops which have commercial potential in hydroponics for three different specified localities.
  • Prepare hydroponic production flow charts for different crops.
  • Produce a log book extract recording the growing of three different types of crops, in an hydroponic system
  • Analyse the unit cost of production for the crops grown.
  • Determine factors affecting the profitability of different crops grown in hydroponic systems.
  • Develop marketing strategies for specified hydroponic crops.

A Good Source of Nutrition is Important
The key to growing plants successfully in hydroponics is the nutrient solutions that are used. All hydroponic crops are provided with a carefully balanced mixture of primary or macronutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronutrients or trace elements. Although you will encounter different formulas for a variety of crops and environments they have been derived from the collective experiences of many different growers. Data has been collaborated from many different countries and as such it is possible to find tried and tested formulas for growing specific crops. Commercially available formulas are based on these findings. Many growers also like to create their own formulas by mixing their own ingredients.

It should be born in mind, however, that even precise formulas may not give the same results in different systems, or in different climates and countries, because it is impossible to control for all variables. Growers also need to realise that hydroponic plant nutrition is not a fixed science and nutrient formulations and working strength solutions often need regular `tweaking’ and fine tuning over the crops life if nutrition is to be maximised.

There are two main approaches to hydroponic nutrients:  Smaller growers often prefer to buy a pre-mixed product which are supplied in liquid concentrate or powered form.  These just need mixing with water to the correct strength for use.  Such pre-mix products, are fine for small growers who don’t want buy in large bags (20-25 Kg) of the individual fertiliser salts required to weight out and mix into larger volumes of nutrient stock solutions. General purpose formulations are available which contain a combination of nutrient salts intended to stimulate both good foliage growth and good flower and fruit development. Due to problems of “lock-up”, in particular of calcium, most formulations are available as a two-part mix, usually labelled Part A and Part B. More technically advanced formulations can be purchased which combine all essential salts in a single part concentrate as well as there being pre-mix products that come in 3 and even 4 separate parts.

Generally speaking, the two and three part mixes give better results for growers than single mixes because they allow the growers to have some control over the nutrient mix, meaning that they can adjust it according to what stage of growth their plants are at.

However, many commercial growers prefer to make up their own nutrient stock solutions from the individual fertiliser salts - firstly because this is a huge cost saving compared to premixed nutrient products, and secondly it gives the flexibility required to make adjustments to the nutrient formulation throughout the cropping cycle.

You can start the Hydroponics I 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.


  • Our courses are written and taught by experienced professionals, so you know you can expect a high quality of teaching and support.
  • 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.

"Having completed the Advanced Hydroponics Course, I have since gone on to open my own successful hydroponics retail shop, now in its third year of trading"

" I have never found the staff at any other learning institution as supportive as the staff at ACS. This gives one a lot of peace of mind and confidence to go on. The feedback on my lessons has always been really good and meaningful and an important source of my learning."
Student with ACS

Whether you want to start your own business in hydroponics or improve your existing job prospects, this is the course for you.


  • An excellent foundation course and introduction to Hydroponics.
  •  You are serious about hydroponics and want to start a business.
  • You want to become more self sufficient.
  • Learn from international experts in Hydroponics.

Enrolling is easy - just select your payment option and study method - choose the online option for a 5% discount on the course cost.

Any questions?

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 hydroponics - learn how to set up and use hydroponic systems and much more. Study by distance learning - fit your studies around your work. Why delay? Get started today.

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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 MasonWriter, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.
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

Getting Work in a Modern WorldGetting Work in a Modern World is a must read; for students, parents, the unemployed, careers advisors or anyone interested in changing or forging a sustainable career. This is realistic guide to getting a job or starting out in business and understanding different industries. Topics covered in this book include 1/Career Myths, 2/ Finding Your Path, 3/ Understanding Employers, 4/ Preparing for a Job, 5/ Jobs to Consider: Looking to the Future, 6/ Information Technology, 7/ Business, Management and Sales, 8/ Health and Wellbeing, 9/ Horticulture, 10/ Wildlife and Environmental, 11/ Animal Care, 12/ Agriculture, 13/ Hospitality and Tourism, 14/ Media and 15/ Education.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
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.
HerbsLearn to identify and grow dozens of commonly grown herbs. Explore how to use them. Herbs have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more.