Improve your ability to manage the selection, operation and maintenance of tools and machinery, with particular reference to agriculture and horticulture. Farms, gardens, parks and plant nurseries are largely more productive today than ever before due to mechanisation.

Work that was previously done by many people can now be undertaken by one machine, but it is important to choose the right machine for the job, and use it appropriately.

Understanding machinery and equipment is pivotal to efficient and productive work output in modern horticulture and agriculture. 

This course improves your ability to do the job and in turn enhances your prospects for career advancement or business profitability.

Develop your ability to independently manage the selection, operation and maintenance of tools and machinery used in agriculture or horticulture.


There are eight lessons as follows:

  1. Engine Operation
  2. Hydraulics
  3. Machinery Components
  4. Hand Tools
  5. Power Tools
  6. Tractors
  7. Equipment Maintenance
  8. Specific Workplace Requirements

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the operation of different types of motors, including petrol and electric engines.
  • Explain the principles of hydraulics in relation to agricultural and horticultural use.
  • Explain the operation of the main components of machinery commonly used in agriculture and horticulture including cooling, lubrication, fuel distribution, ignition and transmission systems.
  • Explain the safe and effective operation of different hand tools commonly used in agriculture or horticulture.
  • Determine the safe and appropriate operation of power tools in horticultural and agricultural situations.
  • To explain the safe and appropriate operation of a tractor in horticultural and agricultural situations.
  • Explain the maintenance procedures for different equipment commonly used in agriculture and horticulture, including hand tools, power tools and tractors.
  • Determine appropriate equipment for minimum work requirements in an agricultural or horticultural workplace.

Electric Motors or Petrol Engines?
Power tools and machines may be driven by either petrol or electricity.
This course focuses more on petrol engines, because most machinery used outside, tends to be driven by petrol.

Electric motors powered by batteries are only going to be as good as the battery used. Batteries can have limited power. If plugged into mains power though; an electric motor is not so limited, and can be very powerful.

Electricity can be used with engines in two different ways:

  • Electricity can be used to power the engine itself (e.g. electric engines). 
  • Electricity can be generated by an engine. Example: Modern Petrol engines commonly incorporate an electric system into the engine. In essence, the explosions in the engine turn a shaft and the rotations of that shaft are used to do a range of things including generate electricity (e.g. Electricity is created by turning the generator shaft). The battery stores electrical energy in a chemical form. This energy can then be released when needed. Machinery such as tractors require a battery to operate the indicator and gauge lights, and for automatic starting. The battery on a petrol engine vehicle supplies power to the coil ignition system. 


The principle of an electric engine is to convert electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy (movement). 

In essence, an electric motor uses magnets to create movement.

A device that reverses this process is called an electric “generator”. Generators are found in cars, tractors and many other types of machines. Generators are also called dynamos. If you understand an electric motor; this can help you understand a generator.

Electric motors are classically divided into two types – AC and DC.

AC motors run on alternating current and DC on direct current. AC cannot be stored, it has to be used as it is generated, DC current can be stored in a battery.

This classification is not strictly as it would seem though, as many DC motors can also run on alternating current. 

Universal motors are another type which from the outset are designed to run on both AC and DC; though in practice they are usually run on DC.

The use of electric motors has been limited in farm and garden applications; but they are still used at times, and generators are also used in horticulture and agriculture.

A Simple Electric Motor

A simple electric motor may have the following six parts:

  • A Rotor (or armature) - is an electromagnet, being fed power from electric wires
  • A commutator 
  • Brushes 
  • An axle 
  • Field magnet 
  • DC power supply of some sort 

The rotor is surrounded by the field magnet, and when powered up the rotor rotates.
If one magnet (the rotor) sits inside the magnetic field created by another magnet, there will be an attraction of negative poles to positive poles of the magnet (also positive will repel positive and negative will repel negative)
The axle is a shaft that is connected to the centre of the rotor; so when the rotor spins, the axle also spins.

Understanding Electromagnets - If you wrap wire around a piece of metal (e.g. a nail) and connect it to a battery, running electric current from one end to the other, you will create a magnet.



Knowing how machines work makes you a valuable asset in any land based industry from farming through to turf management, the maintenance of parks and gardens, within the cropping sector, floriculture etc.

  • You can save time by selecting the right tool for the job the first time.
  • You can save money by learning to identify problems with machinery before they become a major breakdown or expense.
  • Knowing how to service the tools of your trade makes your daily work life safer and more efficient.

This course will help you to understand the basics of engineering and apply it to your everyday working life.