Courses

Summary of Apps Labs modules.

To see all the modules on one page with their connections please see Map of Apps Labs modules.

How the courses work.

New farm

Assessment and plan for a new farm. (Available)

Plant nutrition and soils modules

Plant growth and nutrition. (Available)

Soils and plant growth. (Available)

Introduction to plant growth, plant nutrition and soils. (Available)

Soil and water tests

Water test for farms. (Available)

Complete soil test. (Available)

Soil function test. (Under development)

Building healthy and productive soils

Investigating healthy soils. (Under development)

Building productive soils. (Under development)

Introduction to healthy soils. (Under development)

Pastures

Growing pastures. (Available May 22)

Managing pastures. (Under development)

Introduction to growing and managing pastures. (Under development)

Pasture systems. (Under development)

Integrated farm production. (Under development)

Cover crops and green manures. (Under development)

Farm animals

Farm animals – getting started (sheep). (Coming soon)

Farm animals – building integrated management skills (sheep). (Coming soon)

Integrated mixed farming. (Under development)

Forage crops, fodder and grazing. (Under development)

Homesteading / self sufficiency / garden

Homestead garden – getting started. (Under development)

Homestead garden – design and integration. (Under development)

Homestead self sufficient garden. (Under development)

Homestead nursery production. (Under development)

Greenhouse production. (Under development)

How the courses work.

* All courses are mentored. Someone who has actually done what you are learning will help you through the process.

* You study in your own time at home or through work. There are no formal classes although in some cases there may be online workshops or conferences. Your mentor will let you know details. All resources are online including web resources that your mentor may direct you to.

* Courses are broken up into smaller easy to manage Modules. You are free to choose individual Modules depending on your interests. Courses are a convenient way to picture your learning path through a topic.

Although you don’t enroll in Courses as such, just Modules, keep in mind that some Modules contain building-blocks topics for subsequent Modules. For example if you are interested in keeping animals on your farm then you may need to start with Modules on plant nutrition and soils. This can lead to Modules on pastures and then onto more advanced livestock Modules that cover topics like growing feed from pastures.

To help see how the Modules fit together we have prepared a Module map Map of Apps Labs modules.

Each module should take around 20 hrs of study time. You should aim to complete a Module within 6 weeks.

* There are practical outcomes for each Module. Typically this will be a plan of action based on what you have learnt that will help you move forward. Your mentor will help you.

* You will get a statement of completion at the end of each module that shows all the topics covered and the practical outcomes achieved.

* Just email Dr Tim Apps at info@appslabs.com.au to get started. You will get a link to detailed course notes and resources.

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Assessment and plan for a new farm. (Available)

This module is designed as a starting point if you are planning to purchase or move to a new farm or are planning to move into horticulture. Its also just as good for taking a new look at an existing farm or horticultural activity. Factors considered will include climate and weather patterns, micro-climate, topography, land capability, water supply and water quality, location, access and infrastructure, property history, soil health and fertility, biological hazards and potential. Other factors will be introduction to financial and production modelling, assessing and managing capital including financial capital, knowledge and skills and land and natural resources capital.

Outcomes: With your mentor assess the capabilities, problems and potential for a proposed farm or resources, progress and potential problems of an existing farm. Draw up a plan to develop the potential of a farm that will also take into account your objectives and capabilities. To guide you your mentor will take you through a case study of buying a dairy farm.

Module details: Assessment and plan for a new farm.

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Plant growth and nutrition. Available.

This module focuses on the building blocks of plant growth and nutrition. Therefore it is central to a deeper understanding of topics like the nature of healthy productive soils, soil management, growing garden plants, crops and pastures sustainably. Ultimately as you build on this module this will lead to a better understanding of farm scale production that integrates fertilisers, manures, growing crops of all types and animal production. It covers nutrients required by plants, nutrient deficiency symptoms, how plants take up and utilise nutrients, nutrient content of plants and options for supplying nutrients to plants.

Module details Plant growth and nutrition

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Soils and plant growth. (Available)

This module is the bridge between Plant growth and nutrition and the module Investigating healthy soils. In this module you will learn more about how soils work and how they naturally supply nutrients to plants. Examples can range from vegetables growing in a garden soil to pasture or crops on a farm. To do this you will look at components of soils and some of the physical properties of soils. A central part of the module is about how soils work, that is, how they supply nutrients to plants. You will look at soil processes, for example how organic matter breaks down to release nutrients.

In this module you will start to take an organised approach to investigating and diagnosis plant growth problems. This will include making observations and linking these to causes. By looking at examples and patterns of plant growth, and information like nutrient deficiencies, you will start to see how soil physical factors, seasonal factors and fertiliser or manure inputs work to supply the nutrients that plants need. Last you will select a plant growth problem to study. The first step is to map out the factors involved, relate the nutrient supply to soil factors and then work out a production plan for your plant or crop of interest that includes the type of soil that will provide or facilitate supply of the nutrients needed.

Module details Soils and plant growth.

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Introduction to plant growth, plant nutrition and soils. (Available)

This module combines foundation level topics from the modules Plant growth and nutrition and Soils and plant growth. It serves as quick and convenient introduction to plant nutrition, plant growth, healthy soil concepts, soil processes that supply nutrients, fertilisers and the connections between soil factors and plant health. It is a recommended foundation subject for the Module Introduction to healthy soils.

Outcomes: Collect resource material from the module on the range of plant nutrients, options for fertilisers, characteristics of healthy growth and deficiency symptoms for some selected plants or crops. Choose a crop or plant species of interest and summarise cultivation preferences including soil properties and nutrients.

Module details Introduction to plant growth, plant nutrition and soils.

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Water test for farms. Available

This module is for a Domestic, stock and irrigation test. This water test is carried out by ALS Global. Includes assistance with sampling and submitting sample (by negotiation, if required). Allow 4 hrs for sampling, discussing results and developing a preliminary management plan with your mentor. Mentor Dr Tim Apps

Complete irrigation water test for sensitive crops is also available. See module details.

Module details: Farm water test.

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Complete soil test. Available

This module is for a complete soil nutrients and physical factors test. It will be carried out by a third party lab Agvita in Devonport. Your mentor will work with you to interpret the results and develop a nutrition plan. Includes assistance with sampling and submitting sample (by negotiation depending on distance). The Module cost includes the cost of Lab analysis. Allow 4 hrs for sampling and developing the nutrient plan. Mentor Dr Tim Apps

Module details: Complete soil test

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Investigating healthy soils. (Under development)

This module focuses on understanding soils as living systems and how healthy soils underpin farm production.

Topics include:
Characteristics of healthy soil
Soil food web
Soil health indicators
Healthy and fertile soil characteristics and function.
Structural characteristics of healthy soils.
Soil types related to capabilities.
Qualitative on farm assessment. Seasonal impacts on soil.
Facilitating soil health.
Healthy soil function.
Fertility assessment.
Principles of regenerative agriculture applied to soils.

Outcomes: Assess the soil resources on a farm and develop a plan to monitor and manage those soils.

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Building productive soils. (Under development)

With an understanding of soil processes this module focuses on management practices designed to facilitate nutrient mobilisation and cycling.

Topics include:
Management aspects of soils
Facilitating soil health
Soil as a system
Building organic matter
Encouraging soil food web, role of organic matter in supplying nutrients.
Function of biological components.
Interpreting soil test results.
Interactions between functional groups to provide nutrients
Mineralization as a key function in soils that provides nutrients
Reason behind minimum or no till.
Importance of cover crops, continuous growth, soil protection.
Grazing and animals.
Manures, composts, additives.
Rotations eg for N inputs.

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Introduction to healthy soils (Under development)
Composite of foundation level topics from Investigating healthy soils and Building productive soils.

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Soil function test. (Available April 22)

Traditionally soil testing has focused on physical and chemical factors. This approach still has its place because it shows levels of nutrients and physical factors that make those nutrients more or less available. More recent trends in testing extend our level of understanding by focusing on soil health and function. These tests recognize soils as living systems and aim to show how the different processes are working. This test is carried out by a third party lab. Your mentor will work through the results with you and help you develop a preliminary soil management and nutrition plan.

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Growing pastures. (Available May 22)

This modules builds on previous modules on plant growth, nutrition and soils, so to get the most from this module please consider taking the modules Plant growth and nutrition and Soils and plant growth. Topics include methods of sowing and fertilising pastures, pasture species suitable for your area, choosing a species mix, balanced pasture nutrition, sources of nutrients, growth cycle of pasture species, seasonal production of pastures, maintaining fertility in pasture soils, fertiliser calculations and fertiliser mixes.

 

 

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Managing pastures. (Under development)

Choosing pasture species and species diversity, introduction to pasture cropping, introduction to nutrient cycling and nutrient budgets, above and below ground growth, managing carbon : nitrogen ratio to build soil organic matter. Other topics are carrying out soil testing, soil test factors eg cation exchange and fertility, more on soil organic matter, how soils function under pastures, Management processes likely to impact soil biological processes including grazing, nutrients contributed by grazing animals, role of clovers. N supplied by legumes. Case studies of grazing strategies.

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Introduction to growing and managing pastures. (Under development)

This module provides a convenient introduction to growing pastures by combining core topics from the modules Growing pastures – building blocks and Managing pastures. It is recommended that you take the modules Introduction to plant growth and nutrition and Introduction to healthy soils before taking this module.

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Pasture systems. (Under development)

This module builds on the modules Growing pastures – building blocks and Managing pastures to introduce cropping in general, understanding changes in pasture systems and optimizing for production. It introduces concepts of pasture cropping, managing soil fertility, planning soil testing and interpreting results, building a farm scale view of nutrient dynamics, seasonal feed base planning and nutrition planning. More advanced topics include planning an ongoing monitoring strategy using appropriate methods, design of a multipart production system.

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Integrated farm production. (Under development)

This module focuses on the links between animal, crop and soil components of a farm. It takes a deeper look at the central role of soil organic matter in soil processes and how nutrients enter and are transformed within the plant – soil system. It also introduces grazing management and soil management approaches such as minimum-till to show how they can be used to build soil fertility. Case studies showing how other farmers have worked to make their farms more resilient and profitable are an important part of this module.

Outcomes: In this module you will bring together your plans from studies in previous modules including those on plant growth, soils, animal production and crops and pastures to design and make a plan for an entire farm.

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Forage crops, fodder and grazing. (Under development)

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Cover crops and green manures. (Under development)

Topics include contribution of green manures to nutrient supply, Nitrogen fixing species and their contribution to soil fertility, contribution to soil health and fertility, sowing, fertilising, processing, choice of varieties, integration with other crops.

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Farm animals – getting started (Sheep). (Under development)

This module introduces concepts and tasks common to keeping all farm animals. Introductory level. It includes options for for choosing farm animals, housing and fencing management. It also covers basics of nutrition, feeding, breeding and health. Depending on individual interests the focus can be on specific groups such as dairy, beef, horses or sheep.

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Farm animals – building integrated management skills (Sheep). (Under development)

For this module the focus can be dairy, beef, horses or sheep or other animals. Advanced level. Includes animal production and products, more advanced topics in nutrition, feed-base, breeding and health.

Outcomes: With the help of your mentor draw up a plan that includes housing, grazing and feeding strategy, supplying balanced feed, breeding program, strategies for dealing with common health and disease issues, yearly health, breeding and maintenance program.

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Integrated mixed farming. (Under development)

Designing, implementing and managing a farming enterprise that integrates pasture / cropping, fodder and livestock components. Includes grazing, on farm and supplementary feed and fodder.

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Field crops. (Under development)

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Row crops. (Under development)

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Homestead garden – getting started. (Under development)

Choice of site, get to know your soil, plants to grow, growing vegetables and edible crops, composting, fertilisers, building your soil, designing your garden, multiplying plants.

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Homestead garden – design and integration. (Under development)

Year round planning, rotations and companion planting, nutrition, pests and diseases, greenhouse growing, watering.

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Homestead self sufficient garden. (Under development)

Adding animals, how to encourage bees, small fruits, build a fruit garden, encourage diversity, manures and compost, handling produce, how to set up a produce outlet.

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Homestead nursery production. (Under development)

Propagation methods and propagation setup, potting mixes, growing out, varieties to grow, plant nutrition for planter stock, production planning.

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Greenhouse production. (Under development)

Producing vegetables and fruits in a managed greenhouse environment.

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