Agricultural Engineering

Agricultural Engineering is the area of engineering concerned with the design, construction and improvement of farming equipment and machinery. It incorporates many science disciplines and technology practices to the efficient production and processing of food, feed, fiber and fuels. It involves disciplines like mechanical engineering (agricultural machinery and automated machine systems), soil science (crop nutrient and fertilization, etc.), environmental sciences (drainage and irrigation), plant biology (seeding and plant growth management), animal science (farm animals and housing) and much more.

Agricultural engineering integrate technology with farming. For example, the Agriculture Engineers design new and improved farming equipment that may work more efficiently, or perform new tasks. They design and build agricultural infrastructure such as dams, water reservoirs, warehouses, and other structures. They may also help engineer solutions for pollution control at large farms. Some agricultural engineers develop new forms of biofuels from non-food resources like algae and agricultural waste. Such fuels could economically and sustainably replace gasoline without jeopardizing the food supply.  Agricultural engineers attempt to solve agricultural problems concerning power supplies, the efficiency of machinery, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Agricultural engineering typically involves the following:

  • Using computer software to design equipment, systems, or structures
  • Modifying environmental factors that affect animal or crop production, such as airflow in a barn or runoff patterns on a field
  • Testing equipment to ensure its safety and reliability
  • Overseeing construction and production operations
  • Planning and working together with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to ensure effective and desirable outcomes

Agricultural engineers work in farming, including aquaculture (farming of seafood), forestry, and food processing. They work on a wide variety of projects. For example, some agricultural engineers work to develop climate control systems that increase the comfort and productivity of livestock whereas others work to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of refrigeration. Many agricultural engineers attempt to develop better solutions for animal waste disposal. Those with computer programing skills work to integrate artificial intelligence and geospatial systems into agriculture. For example, they work to improve efficiency in fertilizer application or to automate harvesting systems.

Areas of interest to Agricultural Engineers

  • Design of ag. machinery, equipment, and structures
  • Environmental control systems, cooling and ventilation
  • Energy Conservation
  • Crop production-seeding, tillage and irrigation practices
  • Soil & water conservation
  • Animal production and care
  • Biofuel production and utilization on the farm
  • Post harvest processing, handling and storage
  • Precision farming technologies, machine vision, gps
  • Farm operations and management
  • Farm safety, security and ergonomics

Agricultural engineers must have a wealth of knowledge and skills to function effectively in the diverse agricultural and agribusiness industries. The agricultural engineer obtains training in design and engineering problem solving based on an understanding of engineering sciences including mathematics, physics and biology. They must also have skills in computers, communication, teamwork and instrumentation. The feature distinguishing agricultural engineers from other engineers is their interest and commitment to solving agricultural problems.

Career Prospects

Agricultural engineers work in a variety of industries including environmental consulting companies, crop storage industries, government agencies and biotechnology companies . Some work for the government, and others provide engineering contracting or consultation services or work for agricultural machinery manufacturers. They typically work in offices, but may spend time at a variety of worksites, both indoors and outdoors. They may travel to agricultural settings to see that equipment and machinery are functioning according to both the manufacturers’ specifications and federal and state regulations. Some agricultural engineers occasionally work in laboratories to test the quality of processing equipment. They may work onsite when they supervise livestock facility upgrades or water resource management projects. Agricultural engineers work with others in designing solutions to problems or applying technological advances. They work with people from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, agronomy, animal sciences, and public policy.

Agricultural engineers are employed as:

  • Researchers
  • Extension Specialists
  • Waste Specialists
  • Land Development Engineers.
  • Structure Designers
  • Machinery Designers
  • Electrification and Power Systems Designer
  • Precision Agriculture Applications Engr.
  • Environmental Controls Engr.

 Agricultural engineers may advance to supervisory and management positions over time. Some go into sales, explaining machinery and products to potential customers, and helping with product planning, installation, and use.

To know about other Engineering options please visit the following link – Engineering – A Career.

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