Short Title:Organic & Sustainable Horticulture
Full Title:Organic & Sustainable Horticulture
Module Code:HTSC H3021
ECTS credits: 5
NFQ Level:7
Module Delivered in 4 programme(s)
Module Contributor:Michael Hagan
Module Description:This module gives learners an understanding of the principles of organic growing, with a particular emphasis the production methods employed both in the field and within protected structures, when growing organic fruit, vegetables and herbs. The student will learn to identify a range of native Irish flora, common weeds, fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals commonly found in an organic production setting, and develop a comprehensive set of practical skills associated with organic crop production
Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to
  1. Adopt the Principles of Organic growing to general horticultural practices, including their applications to domestic gardens and commercial cropping arrangements, including a variety of production methods such as field, protected cropping arrangements and general ornamental garden growing techniques and practices.
  2. Understand the implications of organic practice for species choice including vegetable and fruit crops, herbs and ornamental plants, and the full production cycle, including extended season crops.
  3. Have a comprehensive knowledge of the conversion process to an organic system
  4. Know the importance of good soil management in an organic production context and its relationship to plant nutrition; identify preventative and control methods for a range of common plant pest and diseases.
  5. Have a comprehensive knowledge of relevant EU and Irish legislation and the organic certification porcedures.
  6. Design and implement organic crop production plans, year-round production systems including out of season/extended season crops and crops produced under protection.
  7. Select plant species based on their characteristics suitable for use in an organic production setting

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
The Principles of Organic and Sustainable growing
The definition of organic growing and the IFOAM principles underpinning organic production; the underlying arguments and potential reasons for switching to this methodology. The concept of Sustainable growth and methods to improve sustainability. Examples of the impact of existing Horticulture practice on environments. The differing types of production, including field and protected crops, and the potential for the conversion process to a sustainable or an organic system. Techniques for soil improvement. Principles of plant nutrition influencing organic production. Preserving natural and wildlife habitats. Identification of a range of native plant species. Conservation of native flora.
The Organic sector and Legal definitions
Current Irish & EU legislation on organic growing; the relevant definitions and requirements to achieve Organic certification; up-to-date versions of the 'Organic Standards'. Organic Certifying Bodies in Ireland and abroad. The state organisations concerned with organic growing, and government policy and support for the Organic sector. Typical techniques for marketing organic produce and assessing consumer demand for produce.
Organic and Sustainable production in practice
Planning year round production systems including producing out of season and extended season crops. Planning crop rotation systems. Planning water conservation and the use of mulches within a facility. Identification of nutritional disorders of plants and potential remedies within the organic paradigm. Identifying organic fertilisers for a variety of crops, their origins, composition and suitability. Factors to be taken into account for crop rotation in an organics context. Potential increases in labour demands and machinery use under organic systems. Identification of common pests and diseases and evaluating possible organic control methods and practices. The impact of climate and weather on horticultural production. Harvesting methods to be used in an organic context. Evaluation of organic crop yields compared to conventional production yields.
Waste in organic production
Methods for sustainable use of resources and reducing waste outputs. The integration of composting facilities, wormeries into organic production facilities. Methods of production of organic liquid feeds and natural pest and disease control materials. Development, quality control and monitoring of peat-replacement and soil ammendment products from green and brown waste sources, including nutrient status, quality issues and potential hazards. Common sources of such products and their quality control standards.
Indicative Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work Assessment %30.00%
Final Exam Assessment %70.00%
Course Work Assessment %
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Lab work Examination of Irish & EU legislation and the published Organic Standards 5 5.00 Week 21
Portfolio Completion of the application process for certification of an organic enterprise 3 10.00 Week 27
Practical/Skills Evaluation Basic practical skills for Organic Production 2,6 10.00 Sem 2 End
Other Learners will prepare for and debate a range of topics around the conversion to organic growing to demonstrate their understanding of the issues involved. 1 5.00 Week 11
Final Exam Assessment %
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Formal Exam End of Semester unseen written examination covering the theory delivered and the learner's wider reading and understanding of the organic production systems. 1,2,4,5,7 70.00 End-of-Semester
Indicative Reassessment Requirement
Repeat examination
Reassessment of this module will consist of a repeat examination. It is possible that there will also be a requirement to be reassessed in a coursework element.
Reassessment Description
The repeat assessment will consist of a two-hours unseen written examination

ITB reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Indicative Module Workload & Resources

Indicative Workload: Full Time
Frequency Indicative Average Weekly Learner Workload
Every Week 2.00
Every Week 2.00
Every Week 4.00
Recommended Book Resources
  • Nicolas Lampkin 2003, Organic Farming (Revised Edition), 2nd Ed Ed., Old Pond [ISBN: 978-190336629]
  • Lampkin, Nicolas; Measures, Mark and Padel, Susanne (Eds.) 2014, 2014 Organic Farm Management Handbook, 10th Ed. Ed., The Organic Research Centre Newbury, UK.
  • Klaus Laitenberger 2013, Vegetables and Herbs for the Greenhouse and Polytunnel, Right Way UK [ISBN: 978-071602342]
  • Klaus Laitenberger 2010, Vegetables: For the Irish Garden, Milkwood Farm Publishing Leitrim [ISBN: 0956506305]
  • Margi Lennartson & Gareth Davies (Eds.) 2006, Organic Vegetable Production - A Complete Guide, The Crowood Press, Limited, Ramsbury, UK [ISBN: 1861267886]
  • Bob Flowerdew 2007, Organic Garden Basics: Five Easy Steps to Growing Organically, Hamlyn London, UK [ISBN: 0600615871]
Supplementary Book Resources
  • Julie A. Fossitt 2000, A Guide to Habitats in Ireland, The Heritage Council [ISBN: 1901137279]
  • Andrew Porteous, Dictionary of environmental science and technology, Chichester ; Wiley, 2000. [ISBN: 0471634700]
  • Roy Lacey 2004, The organic greenhouse & conservatory, David & Charles Newton Abbot, Devon [ISBN: 0715318446]
Recommended Article/Paper Resources
Other Resources

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
BN_SHTSC_8 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Horticulture [240 ECTS credits] 5 Elective
BN_SHTSC_7 Bachelor of Science in Horticulture [180 ECTS credits] 5 Elective
BN_SHTSC_D Bachelor of Science in Horticulture [NFQ level 7, Add on 60 ECTS credits] 3 Elective
BN_SHTSC_D Bachelor of Science in Horticulture [NFQ level 7, Add on 60 ECTS credits] 1 Elective