College of Knowledge: Root Zone Management

Course Overview

This 2.5-hour class consists of pre-recorded lectures about the fundamental concepts about irrigation water, media, and their effects on plant nutrition. The course covers the latest practical information on root zone management techniques for ornamental crops in a greenhouse.

The course is instructed by Heidi Lindberg, Greenhouse and Nursery Extension Educator with MSU Extension. Dr. Kristin Getter (Academic Specialist, MSU) designed, authored, and updated the course, which was adapted and updated from the original College of Knowledge class developed by Dr. John Biernbaum (Professor, MSU) and later revised by Dr. Dean Krauskopf (retired Educator, MSU Extension).

Students enrolled in this self-paced course will take a pre-test and a final exam to gauge their progress on the topics of the course. Self-assessment quizzes will engage students with the material throughout the course.

Course Content

The 2.5-hours of pre-recorded lecture are divided into three units:

  • Unit 1: Irrigation Water
  • Unit 2: Media
  • Unit 3: Nutrition

Unit 1 covers topics about irrigation water including water sources, water quality, water treatment, and irrigation timing and methodology. Unit 2 discusses the physical and chemical properties of media as well as substrate components and amendments. The third unit covers the essential elements for plant nutrition, how to select a fertilizer, and how to monitor nutrition of greenhouse crops.

PreviewView a preview of the course here.

Cost: The cost is $129 per person.

Course Offerings: This course is offered once a year in the winter months

    • Registration period: November
    • Course available to students: December-February

Win a $75 gift card! The individuals have paid for the course, completed the pre-test, final exam, and the post-course evaluation, will be entered into a drawing for a $75 gift card! (Available to U.S. residents only)

Financial Need Scholarships: There are three scholarships available for those that are interested in the course but do not currently have the financial means to take it. Greenhouse growers interested in the scholarship will be able to apply for it upon registering by writing a short paragraph about why you feel you should be awarded this scholarship and how you plan to use the information you learn in your business or professional endeavors. The applicants and winners will be kept confidential. The cost of the course will be $39.99 for scholarship winners. Scholarship winners will be notified after the enrollment period has passed.

Registration Instructions

Registration for the Winter 23-24 Courses is now closed. This course will be open for registration again on November 1, 2024. To be added to a waitlist to be notified when it opens, take thissurvey. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is my username/NETID?

Your username (or NET ID) is the email address you used to create your account during registration (you use the same email address/password for registering and for taking the course).

What URL do I go to for logging into the course?

Go to: You will see the Michigan State University at the top of the page. Login with the email address and password you set during the registration process.

I received a “not authenticated” response when trying to login – what do I do?

A “not authenticated” message is typically an issue with a password not being entered correctly.

I forgot my password – where can I reset it?

If you need to reset your password at any time go to and select the option for "Need help Signing in."