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New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production (Level 3)

Level 3

Increase your knowledge of organic farming principles in UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production (Level 3).

A close up photograph of a man holding potatoes in his hand.
Quick info

Level: 3

Locations: Blended delivery from anywhere in New Zealand with three block courses*

Duration: 17 weeks, full-time

7 Aug 2017 - 1 Dec 2017

Domestic Fees:*
$2,258.93Scholarship info

International Fees:*
To be confirmed.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

Learn how to create a balanced and diverse farming system where plant, animal and soil health are of primary importance in UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production (Level 3).

The aim behind the design of organic farm systems is to create a functional diversity that replicates those found in natural systems, which allows sustainable and profitable organic production. 

This course is ideal for people throughout New Zealand who have an interest in creating regenerative and organic farming systems that offer a sustainable alternative to farming in New Zealand. This may be people interested in initiating education or gardening projects within their community, creating an abundant edible backyard, transforming their lifestyle block into a highly productive small farming system, or creating commercial farming systems. 

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production is structured for students to attend three weekend block courses. A diverse range of farming systems are explored, including: orchards, vegetable crops, grazing systems, integrated forestry and aquaculture. You'll learn about the ideas behind the design of organic farms systems, practices involved in production, and the science behind plant, animal and soil health. 

You'll study organic principles in context of:
  • Soil health, biological food webs and recycling of nutrients
  • Plant health, reproduction, nutrient density and cultivation
  • Animal health and reproduction and husbandry techniques
  • Design of regenerative farming systems
  • Health of farming ecosystems
  • Organic standards in New Zealand
  • Weed, pest and disease control

 Career & Study Outcomes

Successful graduates will be able to apply basic knowledge of organic principles and organic compliance requirements when carrying out routine day to day operational tasks. Employment opportunities in an organic context may include:

  • orchard worker
  • vineyard worker
  • greenhouse worker
  • crop worker
  • nursery worker
  • farm assistant

 Course Information

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production (Level 3) will cover the following:

  • Principles of Organic Primary Production
  • Production on Organic Farms
  • Science of Organic Production

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 1 (including 10 Literacy and 10 Numeracy Credits at Level 1)


Equivalent academic achievement on a case-by-case basis;


At the discretion of the Executive Dean.


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements the following applies to international student applicants.

English Proficiency Requirements
International applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS General or Academic (or equivalent including TOEFL) Level 5 with no band lower than 5. IELTS scores must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre.

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

 Advice & Guidance

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Organic Primary Production (Level 3) comprises 50 credits.

Students need to be aware of the physical requirements for operating in the rural workforce. Students will be advised to put any special needs or requirements in writing and advise the Programme Leader before the programme begins.

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a weekly commitment of:

  • 17 hours of lecturer supported learning 
  • 16 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent on research and study to complete your written assignments)

This is a blended learning course based on an online platform supplemented by three block courses over a long weekend. You can study this course from anywhere in New Zealand. You'll need access to a computer and Internet to complete on-line learning requirements. You can use the computers from any UCOL campus (Palmerston North, Whanganui, Wairarapa, Auckland).

The online component consists of informative ebooks and video lectures, supported by online resources. Progression through this content is tracked by quizzes that contribute towards the assessment of the course.

Block course attendance
Attending the three block courses is a compulsory part of the course. UCOL will provide transport to the farms from Palmerston North.

The certificate course has three topics: principles or organic production, production on organic farms, and science of organic production. Each part is supported with online video, ebooks, tutorials and quizzes from the lectures and ties in with three practical block courses to apply learning to practical tasks associated with organic production on New Zealand farms.

Each topic is assessed by portfolio (80%) including quizzes, a test, practical skills, and a research assignment and the other 20% from a report that applies this learning to a research task.

Work experience
There are no work experience hours for this programme.

Recognition of Prior Learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course or unit standards have already been met.

Application checklist

It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email.

Additional costs

While some personal protective equipment is provided by UCOL, students must supply:

  • Raincoat $50.00
  • Waterproof pants $40.00
  • Gumboots $30.00 


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under section 249 of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to provide it under section 250 of the Act.