What is an Agricultural Engineer?

An agricultural engineer helps to make farming sustainable, safe, and environmentally friendly. How? By analyzing agricultural operations and looking at new technologies and ways of doing things to improve land use, increase yields, and conserve resources.

This is an interesting and dynamic career choice, as agricultural engineering combines mechanical, civil, electrical, and chemical engineering principles with agricultural principles.

What does an Agricultural Engineer do?

An agricultural engineer using a computer to design and develop new methods for land preparation.

Agricultural engineers have much to do as increasing biological discoveries are adopted to farming practices like on-farm energy production. New uses for agricultural waste are becoming evident and crops are yielding not only food, but new byproducts.

Agricultural engineers design equipment and develop methods for land preparation, planting and harvesting. They use automation, precision, and smart or "intelligence" technologies with new and existing equipment. Sensors are used in combination with microcomputers, controllers, artificial intelligence and other software, which optimizes efficiency, sustainability, and the reliability of food, feed, fibre and fuel for the economy.

Agricultural engineers improve on ways to reduce crop loss from field damage during handling, sorting, packing and processing. Warehousing of food and fibre are an important part of the agriculture industry; the agricultural engineer plans the heating, cooling, ventilation, post harvest handling, logistics and more.

Agricultural engineers work with:

  • Production facilities
  • Food engineering and the processing of agricultural products
  • The design of agricultural machinery, equipment, and agricultural structures
  • The physical and chemical properties of materials used in, or produced by, agricultural production
  • Power units, harvesters, material handling, and implements
  • Poultry, swine, beef, aquaculture, and plant environmental control
  • Waste management, including animal waste, agricultural residues, and fertilizer runoff
  • Water management, conservation, and storage for crop irrigation and livestock production
  • Utilizing GPS, yields monitors, remote sensing and variable-rate technology
  • Worker safety and comfort
  • Efficiency including the control of vibration, noise, air quality, heating, cooling, etc.
  • Sales, service, training, management, planning, market and product research related to implementing and applying technologies

Are you suited to be an agricultural engineer?

Agricultural engineers have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.

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What is the workplace of an Agricultural Engineer like?

Agricultural engineers work both indoors and out. Their work can depend on the weather or growing seasons, so they sometimes work long hours to take advantage of the right conditions.

An agricultural engineer works with industries associated with agriculture such as equipment companies, seed manufacturers and food companies/distributors.

Some agricultural engineers work directly with farmers and agricultural technicians to solve issues with crop, land and livestock. Large farm operations may consult or hire agricultural engineers to resolve management and technical issues. A good number of engineers work for government agencies that oversee agricultural entities.

Agricultural Engineers are also known as:
Research Agricultural Engineer