What is an agricultural engineer capable of? How can they add value to food production and how do they fit into the farming scene? Here is what an agricultural engineer does.
An agricultural engineer can do a lot for sustainable farming. Such a professional has several responsibilities including making agriculture safer and more sustainable. Of course, one of the top priorities of agricultural engineers is to boost farm productivity and yield. It is their job to find ways of maximising yield while conserving limited precious resources like land and water.
Agricultural Engineering Explained
Everything has gone high-tech these days. And so has farming. There are many reasons to bolster farming with the latest in agricultural tech.
Such technology can have a substantial impact on sustainability, yield, cost reduction, productivity, resource conservation, quality enhancement, increasing crop variety, upping customer satisfaction, boosting nutrition and a whole lot more. Agriculture engineers incorporate such technology into farming practices so that such aspirations and objectives can become a reality. It is their job to utilise biological discoveries that will bring tangible benefits to farmers.
There are also new avenues of agricultural research and engineering that these professionals have to take care of like sustainable on-farm energy production. For instance, agricultural waste has a great potential for energy production and manufacturing. Agricultural engineers help to utilise farming byproducts to improve the bottom line and to bring benefits to the environment and the economy.
Scope of Agricultural Engineering
Agricultural engineering is far vaster than what many people think. The scope can include installing and repairing new farm equipment and machinery.
It can also include designing farming equipment and techniques that will help with harvesting, planting and farmland preparation. This includes the design of sophisticated equipment like combine harvesters and tractors. Hence, automotive and mechanical engineering are some of the many dimensions of agricultural engineering. They also endeavor to make existing farm equipment more efficient and automated.
One area of research for agricultural engineers is to find ways of implementing more sensors for the surveillance of crops and farm conditions. This in turn entails the use of chips, semiconductor devices and cutting-edge electronics – in other words, ‘smart’ technology. This technology can help bolster farm yields, crop quality and automate several mundane labour-intensive tasks. Hence, electronic engineering is also a field that strongly overlaps with agricultural engineering.
And of course, there is genetic engineering and research so that crop varieties can be developed that have higher yields and that are more resistant to pests and other farm problems. Therefore, the biological sciences are some of the many facets of agricultural engineering.
As can be seen, the scope of agricultural engineering is truly vast and eclectic. You will have to master multiple fields of science and engineering if you are to excel in agricultural engineering. So one good idea is to select your niche and then define and narrow your scope so that you can become more specialised.
There are so many issues and problems that agricultural engineers strive to remediate and ameliorate. One of these is the reduction of crop waste during multiple phases of food production like processing, packing, sorting, handling, picking and planting.
But that’s not all. Agricultural engineers have to plan and design systems for proper storage conditions. HVAC systems they implement should control humidity, temperature and air quality so that crops may stay in the best condition possible and their shelf life is extended. Hence, HVAC engineering too is within the rubric of agricultural engineering.
Agricultural engineers need a diverse skillset to succeed in their chosen field.
Agricultural Engineering Work
Agricultural engineers have to take care of the following;
● Processing facilities.
● Food engineering
● Crop processing
● Designing agricultural equipment, machinery, structures and tools
● Chemicals and materials that are indispensable to agricultural production
● Power generation for agriculture
● Environmental control for the safe storage of crops, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat- this includes heating, ventilating, maintaining air quality control, humidification and dehumidification.
● Waste management such as fertilizer runoff, agricultural residue and animal waste
● Handling byproducts and devising best uses for them
● Conserving and managing water use
● Implementing and handling remote sensors, yield monitors, GPS and other electronic equipment
Working Conditions for Agricultural Engineers
Your working conditions as a an agricultural engineer depend on what you are tasked with, as well as what your specialist field is. Usually, it is a combination of outdoor and indoor work. Since the field is so competitive and vast, you should be ready to work long hours. A lot depends on the seasons and weather conditions.
Agricultural engineers are expected to work with allied industries such as food companies, distributors, seed manufacturers and agricultural equipment manufacturing companies.
There are cases where agricultural engineers work and collaborate directly with food companies that grow crops on a large scale. In that case, you will be in charge of a team of technicians tasked with solving various issues that arise on the farm field. Your job will be to help boost productivity, implement automation, set up remote monitoring systems, repair and maintain farm equipment and so on.
Also note that there are some agricultural engineers that are employed with government bodies who oversee food production companies and other agricultural entities.
There are plenty of challenges in the field that agricultural engineers must be willing to take on and resolve. For example, you may be tasked with implementing a fully automated irrigation for watering huge swathes of farmland. Thus, you would need to have competence in piping systems, valves, pumps, motors, water treatment systems and so on.
You may also be tasked with solving challenging problems like controlling fertiliser use and preventing it from seeping into groundwater for instance.
Besides farming and food processing, agricultural engineers can also choose to specialize in aquaculture (seafood farming) and forestry.
Here is a list of farming jobs that you should be aware of.
Employers for Agricultural Engineers
As an agricultural engineer, you can find work in manufacturing companies, machinery companies, government agencies, engineering firms, food companies, consulting services and big farms. You could also get a job in agricultural equipment manufacturing companies. Hence, there is a vast array of employers who will be willing to avail your services if you choose to become an agricultural engineer.
As you can see, agricultural engineering is a huge field - with many options for specialisation that entails numerous challenges. The pay is excellent for competent and experienced engineers.
Now that you have understood what an agricultural engineer does, you are in a better position to decide whether you want to pursue this field or not.
Be sure to visit our websiteto find out how to get into this field.
How Agricultural Recruitment Specialists Can Help
Agricultural Recruitment Specialistsare a team of recruiters who specialise in recruitment for agricultural and farming jobs in the UK. We are at the forefront of jobs within the agricultural and farming industry and the first choice for both candidates and clients alike. Our affiliation with the industry gives us the knowledge we need to understand diverse skills and their applications.
If you are interested in applying for agricultural jobs, or looking to take on more employees - then please head over to our website. You can alsocontact us if you have any questions and we will be happy to respond to you.