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Agricultural engineer

Agricultural engineers are specialists who apply their knowledge of biology and various engineering disciplines – mainly chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering – to design machinery that is used in agricultural production and processing.


Agricultural engineer

People who work as agriculture engineers have a very important job. They have the task of improving farming conditions and making the environment safe for all the aspects of farming. Agricultural engineers perform research and analysis of the daily operations of farmers and they work with new technologies in the effort to improve the existing techniques that are being used in agricultural production and processing. The improvement of these techniques often plays a crucial role in helping farmers make better use of their land and resources.

Routine / Daily Tasks

Agricultural engineers execute some of these duties in the core line of work

  1. Discuss plans with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers so that they can be evaluated and necessary changes made.
  2. Prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, proposals, and budgets for proposed sites or systems.
  3. Meet with clients, such as district or regional councils, farmers, and developers, to discuss their needs.
  4. Visit sites to observe environmental problems, to consult with contractors, or to monitor construction activities.
  5. Design agricultural machinery components and equipment, using computer-aided design (CAD) technology.
  6. Design and supervise environmental and land reclamation projects in agriculture and related industries.
  7. Provide advice on water quality and issues related to pollution management, river control, and ground and surface water resources.
  8. Design structures for crop storage, animal shelter and loading, and animal and crop processing, and supervise their construction.
  9. Conduct educational programs that provide farmers or farm cooperative members with information that can help them improve agricultural productivity.
  10. Plan and direct construction of rural electric-power distribution systems, and irrigation, drainage, and flood control systems for soil and water conservation.
  11. Test agricultural machinery and equipment to ensure adequate performance.
  12. Design food processing plants and related mechanical systems.
  13. Supervise food processing or manufacturing plant operations.
  14. Design sensing, measuring, and recording devices, and other instrumentation used to study plant or animal life.

Skills and qualifications

Agricultural engineers must be good at a number of things to do their job well: resource management, water conservation and storage, climatology, waste management, food engineering, as well as soil management and conservation, land profiling and surveying. They must be familiar with internal combustion engines used in farming, and any other other agricultural equipment and machinery that is relevant to their job and to the project at hand.

There are a number of schools that have degree-granting programs in agricultural engineering. There are also a variety of jobs that graduates can obtain once they have completed the programs. Students who decide to pursue this field of study will earn degrees with programs that may be 4 or 5 years in duration. A professional license from the state will also be required for all those who work in fields related to public health. Agricultural engineers will go on to teach at schools or join university departments and conduct research. Engineers who advance their careers in this direction will also need to obtain a master's degree in agricultural engineering. 

Work

Once an agricultural engineer starts looking for work he or she will have to decide which area of expertise to pursue. Agricultural engineers who are interested in farm structures will be assigned the task of designing better animal shelters and barns for farmers. Agricultural engineers who are more interested in areas that deal with electrification will have a different task. Their daily duties may consist of work that helps with the improvement of electric power. Sometimes this may be work that is done for rural areas. At other times there may be a need to analyze power in concerns to machinery and preserving crops. The area of agriculture engineering that includes food processing is newer than the other areas, but it has significantly grown in popularity in recent years. Agricultural engineers who have their hand in soil and water conservation may be tasked with covering daily tasks such as designing better watersheds or analyzing soil and expanding irrigation systems for the environment.

General tasks of an agriculture engineer can include building dairy effluent schemes, drainage and irrigation systems, and maintaining and managing these systems. Agricultural engineers also collect data on agricultural product processing and environmental impact and use research results to improve the relevant factors.

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