Sustainable Protected Horticulture: Soilless Cultivation Systems and Hydroponics


Program Description

  • Period: July 6 to 31, 2020
  • Number of teaching hours: 8O
  • Coordinator / s: Dr. Miguel Urrestarazu Gavilán ( Universidad de Almería )
  • Knowledge area: Agronomy129486_lisa-pellegrini-XCvy_eufErI-unsplash.jpg


The Universidad de Almería has more than 25 years of experience in protected horticulture and especially in soilless and hydroponic cultivation systems, as well as sustainable fertirrigation and production with zero waste to the environment. It is a universal reference of these clean and environmentally friendly farming systems. It has international collaboration in more than 50 leading countries in this area. He has trained and maintains contact with researchers, doctors, professors and academics from all corners of the five continents. It continues to lead international projects of protected horticulture agroecosystems in both scientifically and technologically settled countries, as well as in developing countries. Account and use the latest trends in university teaching with the incorporation of the most modern ICTs.

Since the appointment of our Institution as Campus of International Agrifood Excellence (ceiA3), nomination granted by the Spanish Ministry of Education, the Universidad de Almería has become an international benchmark in the academic and scientific field of this branch of science. The course presented below covers, among others, the following fundamental aspects: Fundamentals of Protected Horticulture, cultivation systems without soil, hydroponics, fertirrigation, biological control, climate control in the greenhouse, sustainable agriculture, green chemistry.


  1. Train senior technicians capable of facing the most modern challenges in the field of protected horticulture and especially in soilless and hydroponic crops
  2. Train professionals in the sector to adequately address problems of climate control, fertigation and minimal pollution, maintaining maximum respect for the environment
  3. Learn the methodology and techniques to make a protected horticulture agro-ecosystem as competitive as possible
  4. Learn and use commercial climate control and fertirrigation software
  5. Visit commercial protected horticulture facilities representative of the Mediterranean side



Module 1: Introduction and fundamentals of sustainable protected horticulture

Thematic Unit I: Bases and systems to consider in sustainable protected horticultural production

  • Types of protected horticultural production systems: soil and soilless systems.
  • Basis of production: basic laws and limiting factors in a sustainable protected horticultural system
  • Characterization, uses and recommendations of substrates

Thematic Unit II: The basic tool: the dissolution of fertigation

  • Basic elements needed: water and nutrients.
  • Calculation Criteria
  • Nutritious and recirculating solutions, irrigation water and drainage.
  • Interpretation, management and analysis
  • Nutrition and diagnosis. Fertilizers
  • Fertigation management
  • Calculation of nutritional solutions: practical examples
  • Practical exercises depending on the cultivation, management and quality of irrigation water available

Thematic Unit III: Infrastructure of Fertirriego

  • Basic elements in a fertigation system: Filters Pumps and Emitters
  • Basic elements and designs of fertirrigation systems: Fertilizer dosing systems, Control devices and measurement of fertirrigation and automation of fertirrigation systems

Thematic Unit IV: Greenhouse Structures and Climate Control

  • Greenhouse structures: advantages and disadvantages.
  • Climate control elements
  • Energy efficiency

Module 2: How to prepare a comprehensive project. From seed to commercialization

Thematic Unit V: Implementation and Design of a project

  • Planning a comprehensive project
  • Project design
  • Execution and monitoring


Face-to-face teaching activities will be carried out in cabinet classrooms. For this, the most modern visual technologies and personalized tutoring will be used (with individualized access for each student), all activities must be participatory in nature regardless of the type and place of activity. Under the criteria of criticism and active participation of students and the teacher-tutor-student relationship.

Work activities will be carried out in teams of 5 people maximum. The practical activities correspond to:

  • Lab work
  • Field in protected horticulture facilities: (i) fertigation infrastructure, (ii), climate control
  • Telematic management of fertirrigation equipment with its slogans with remote terminals (Use TICs)
  • Cabinet work: Tutored resolution of numerical problems of climate control, fertirrigation and dosage and management
  • Seminar work: Problems of diagnosis, evaluation and management of the limiting factors of a Production Agroecosystem in Protected Horticulture
  • Exam activities in small and individual groups
  • Assistance in web tutoring via internet in virtual campus
  • Access at all times to interactive internet resources in all classrooms
  • Field visits to seedlings and experimental and commercial farms of the different intensive horticultural crops

Professional Visits and Complementary Academic Activities

This course is eminently practical and includes the following professional visits and complementary academic activities outside the classroom:

  • Visit to the Agricultural Region of Campo de Cartagena (Protected Agriculture Region of Levante Almeriense) and El Ejido (Protected Agriculture Region of Poniente Almeriense). Companies of the sector from Semillero to Fourth Range, through companies of feretirrigation and industries of the sector that give added value to the Horticulture Protected
  • Visit to the facilities of the UAL-ANECOOP Experimental Estate (
  • Laboratory and field practices at the UAL
  • Professional visit to automated fertirrigation head system
  • Professional visit to greenhouse facilities of different levels of technology and infrastructure
  • Visit to the UAL library and high-tech facilities


To complete this course an individualized formative evaluation will be carried out. The qualification will be necessary at least 80% of the attendance to the face-to-face sessions and the participation in class will be positively valued. The 10% will be individual or group work and the rest will be an objective test with computer means using ICTs.

Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

The University of Almería, Spain, organizes summer courses each July since 2013. They are designed by the most prestigious experts of the leading-edge fields of our University and are taught by Doctor ... Read More

The University of Almería, Spain, organizes summer courses each July since 2013. They are designed by the most prestigious experts of the leading-edge fields of our University and are taught by Doctors and Full Professors of proven expertise and experience in their respective areas of knowledge. All courses have an eminently practical focus and include visits to industries and companies of the field. Read less