Agricultural engineering is the engineering discipline that applies engineering science and technology to agricultural production and processing. Agricultural engineering combines the disciplines of animal biology, plant biology, and mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical engineering principles with a knowledge of agricultural principles.
It requires knowledge of the engineering sciences relating to physical properties and biological variables of foods and fibers; atmospheric phenomena as they are related to agricultural operations; soil dynamics as related to traction, tillage and plant-soil-water relationships; and human factors relative to safe design and use of agricultural machines. The safe and proper application and use of agricultural chemicals and their effect on the environment are also concerns of the agricultural engineers.
Some of the specialties of agricultural engineers include:
– the design of agricultural machinery, equipment, and agricultural structures.
– crop production, including seeding, tillage, irrigation and the conservation of soil and water.
– animal production, including the care and processing of poultry and fish and dairy management.
– the processing of food and other agricultural and biorenewable products,and food engineering.
– Bioresource engineering, which uses machines on the molecular level to help the environment.
Day In The Life
Agricultural Engineers combine engineering principles with biological and agricultural sciences. They work to develop equipment, systems, and processes that help improve how the world’s food supply is produced and distributed. They are involved in problem solving, and must have the ability to analyze a current system with an eye toward improving the current process. They often have to look beyond a specific challenge, such as a machine, or storage solution, and consider a larger system, and how improvements or changes would affect the whole.
Agricultural engineers often work in teams and their duties involve analysis of current methods and equipment applied to the production, packing, and delivery of food products. They might work in a group with other engineers, or those outside of engineering, to solve problems related to systems, processes, and machines. They may be involved in designing a water irrigation system, or in determining alternative uses for agricultural byproducts. They may participate in legal or financial consulting regarding agricultural processes, equipment, or issues. Some agricultural engineers focus on machinery, and may design equipment used in agriculture and construction. These engineers might have a special interest in crop handling, hydraulic power, or the growth of specific crops.
They may be employed by machine manufacturing firms. Other agricultural engineers may find themselves designing buildings or other structured used for livestock, storage of grains, or experimental growing facilities. Still other agricultural engineers might focus on developing systems for food processing, such as drying processes, distillation, or long term storage.
History of Agricultural Engineering
another good blog about agricultural engineering:
Like to eat? Give thanks to agricultural engineers. They mix cutting-edge science with the art of farming to keep us well-fed with foods that are safe, nutritious and tasty. Agricultural engineers will never be at a loss for career choices because the number of industries that require their skills is vast.
Make a Difference!
Agricultural engineers are experts in biosystems, so many specialize in finding ways to protect the environment. Some, for example, work to conserve supplies of fresh water, while others develop methods to safeguard the Earth from pollution, including chemical or nutrient runoff from farms. Agricultural engineers are also involved in developing biofuels from algae — that’s right, pond scum — a process that doesn’t need arable land, which is put to better use growing food crops.
Did you know?
Agricultural engineering isn’t limited to planet Earth. NASA uses agricultural engineers to develop systems to grow food in space. One NASA project is developing hydroponic techniques—the science of growing food in water without soil—that will keep some future human colony on Mars well-fed.
Where Do They Work?
Agricultural engineers will never be at a loss for career choices — the number of industries that require their skills is vast. Here are just a few examples: farm equipment manufacturers (John Deere, International Harvester); seed companies (Pioneer Hi-Bred, Monsanto); food producers (Kraft, Kellogg’s); environmental engineering firms (Mock Roos and Associates); forest product companies (Weyerhaeuser).