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Agricultural engineering is the future of farming - could it be yours too?

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Agricultural methods have evolved in many ways. Before the increasing prevalence of machinery, farms used laborious methods that were slow and required large workforces to be effective. As the years have progressed so has technological advancement, meaning the future of agricultural engineers is bright with opportunities. If our increased dependence on livestock and farming is anything to go by, then it is clear that there are yet more developments to come, making agricultural engineering a vital and exciting career path. 

What is agricultural engineering?

The easiest way to define agricultural engineering is as the branch of agriculture that deals with improving the conditions and means by which farms function most efficiently and agricultural products are harvested. This includes everything from soil management and the irrigation of land to managing the facilities of vast farm structures, determining the best use of land and improving the design of farm machinery. Naturally, a great deal of technical know-how alongside working practice is required. Candidates should have strong mathematical and science/analytical skills, and usually possess a relevant degree in the field, or a foundational degree or HND.

It is a career that requires creativity, analysis, communication skills and deep insight to come up with real solutions for the agricultural sector. To understand the extent to which agrarian engineers are required, consider the following. There are many types of food that human beings consume, all of which incur different methods and strategies of planting and nurturing to ensure high rates of success. Equally so, reaping those crops will require specific techniques, not least as every type needs to be handled with the best care at the quickest speeds, while each location poses unique challenges. These differences mean that agricultural engineers are needed to maintain as well as come up with innovative solutions to a host of possibilities.

What is the job description of an agricultural engineer?

So, what does an agricultural engineer actually do? Like all other engineers, agrarian engineers will usually cater to improving the technical aspects of the farming sector. Their primary responsibilities include: 

Design of machinery and infrastructure

As an agricultural engineer, one is expected to foresee problems within the industry and come up with effective and efficient solutions, whether in machinery, infrastructure, buildings or other facilities. As such, the knowledge and skills to design, build and test new machines, systems and structures are imperative. The uses for this could include soil preparation, planting, produce transportation, streamlined and accurate harvesting and eco-friendly pest prevention, as well as designing innovative buildings for rearing and housing livestock, or for secure storage. 

Agricultural engineers have the power to revolutionise the entire farming industry by detecting problems and finding clever ways to use technology to avert or wholly solve these issues in line with a farm or company's budget. This is critical and aids in food security and sustainability across the world. Some of the most significant agricultural inventions of the recent past include aquaponic and hydroponic systems, which means we can now grow food in a water-based solution, without the need for soil, dramatically improving success and productivity while minimising land use and lost revenue. 

• Installation of machinery and equipment

Agricultural engineering is not limited to inventing new tech and constructions but extends to installing and maintaining existing solutions. Not only do farmers seek advice in choosing the best machinery for their needs, but they also require expert intervention to find the best fit for their specific crop. Agricultural engineers will have a deep understanding of the various methods and solutions available on the market and how a wide range of machines work to enable them to guide customers accordingly. This could include designing customisations for specific farms with unique needs. However, more traditional installations may also be part and parcel of the job, such as installing solar systems to gain maximum effectiveness and designing and implementing new irrigation systems to improve soil drainage.

Servicing of agricultural equipment and machinery

New and seasoned farmers often run into problems with the equipment in their farms which undergo intensive activity. This means there is a demand for engineers who understand the intricacies of such machinery and are skilled at sourcing new parts or advising on maintenance programmes. The ability to keep machines running in peak condition is important to the ability of a farm to be as productive as possible. 

• Data collection and analysis

Agricultural engineering is as much about understanding a farm's unique conditions in order to provide the best solution. This requires site visits in order to collect biological samples and conduct research which will be analysed in the field and in the lab to inform new designs and structures. Engineers will then need to be confident presenting these findings and their improved suggestions, delivering these to key stakeholders as a local and possibly even national or international level. Projects are not usually finished once the change has been implemented but require ongoing research and analysis by way of evaluation to see what improvements can still be made. Maintaining good relationships is critical so strong interpersonal skills are a necessity.

Are you ready to forge a career in agricultural engineering? 

Since the agricultural revolution of the 18th century, there has been a need for new developments which improve the functioning and productivity of farms in response to changes in consumer demand and environmental conditions. From farming on slopes and finding ways to curb erosion, to the invention of the ox-drawn plough to today’s harvesters and tilling tractors, there is no limit to the greatness that can be achieved by an agricultural engineer. Working for the right organisation allows agricultural engineers the opportunity to join teams around the world dealing with various technical agricultural projects and, most importantly, ensuring food security across the globe. To find your next or first job in the agricultural sector, take a look at the agricultural engineering jobs on Agricultural Recruitment Specialists today:

Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are the worldwide leader in headhunting and recruitment for agricultural and farming positions. Take a look at our website today to see what farming and agricultural jobs are available within the management sector and progress your career in the right direction. Alternatively, contact our team on 01905 345 155 or email us for more information at