Our food travels a long way from the seed to the table, and Agricultural Engineers are responsible for all of the steps involved in producing and delivering agricultural output. They oversee various agricultural issues, including power supply, machinery efficiency, storage and processing facilities, and environmental protection. They work on farming, forestry, and food processing projects.
What do Agricultural Engineers do?
- Design, fabricate, test, and improve farming equipment, machinery, and parts to make them more efficient or to perform new tasks.
- Design and build infrastructure such as irrigation, drainage, flood control systems, water reservoirs, and dams; design efficient and cost-effective farm buildings, food processing plants, warehouses, and livestock shelters.
- When designing and building, consider local codes, farming culture, and regional resources.
- Address farm issues such as pollution by designing appropriate solutions.
- Design machinery and equipment to prepare fields, sow seeds, spray crops and harvest them, and transport agricultural products to create lighter, more durable versions that are safe for the soil.
- Design, build, and maintain specialized forestry, horticulture, and farming vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), that can be used on level ground in all weather conditions. Improve agricultural output handling, sorting, packing, and processing methodologies to reduce crop loss caused by field damage (::)
- Temperature control in food and fibre warehouses is achieved through efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation.
- Manage post-harvest logistics and handling.
- Change environmental factors that impact livestock and crop production, such as barn airflow or field runoff patterns.
- Supervise construction and production; test equipment for safety and dependability.
- Innovate biofuels using non-food resources such as agricultural waste and algae to replace fossil fuels in sustainable and cost-effective ways that do not jeopardize the food supply.
- Collect and analyze biological samples from the field and non-living media.
- Provide advice on water quality and pollution control; plan and manage land reclamation projects; and manage carbon sequestration projects, which involve having soil, crops, and trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce global warming.
- Work with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers; communicate with horticulturists, agronomists, animal scientists, and geneticists.
- Perform managerial tasks such as project scheduling and budgeting and communicate project requirements to relevant parties.
- In client meetings, prepare and present technical reports; explain technical concepts such as crop diversity and climate change adaptation to internal and external stakeholders such as farmers, landowners, and government organizations.
Standard Work Environment
When planning and managing projects, agricultural engineers work in an office setting, but they may also work in laboratories to test the quality of processing equipment or even in classrooms if they are employed in academia.
They also spend time at various work sites, both inside and outside. Agricultural Engineers typically travel to agricultural settings to ensure that equipment operates by manufacturer specifications and government regulations and to oversee other farm projects. They may be required to work on-site when supervising projects such as livestock facility upgrades.
There are numerous opportunities to travel and work abroad, especially in developing countries, on a long-term assignment or for a few months on contract. There is an increase in population in areas where the land is less arable and requires significant effort to produce agricultural output while protecting the environment.
Agricultural Engineers typically work full-time. Schedules may vary from time to time because of weather and other complications. While working on outdoor projects, Agricultural Engineers may work more hours to take advantage of good weather or fewer hours in bad weather. In addition, they may need to be available outside of regular working hours to address unexpected problems in manufacturing operations and construction projects.
Finding a new job might seem challenging. Agricultural Engineers can boost their job search by asking their network for referrals, contacting companies directly, using job search platforms, going to job fairs, leveraging social media, and inquiring at staffing agencies.
Agricultural Engineers are generally employed by:
- Large Agricultural Holdings
- Seed Manufacturers
- Architectural Firms
- Engineering Firms
- Government Agencies
- Food Manufacturing
- Food Distribution
- Agricultural Equipment Manufacturers
- Construction Equipment Manufacturers
- Mining Equipment Manufacturers
- Educational Institutions
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional associations and organizations, such as the CIGR International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, are crucial for Agricultural Engineers interested in pursuing professional development or connecting with like-minded professionals in their industry or occupation. Membership in one or more adds value to your resume while bolstering your credentials and qualifications.
- In some areas, employment opportunities are limited, professional and career development opportunities are limited, and service conditions are less than satisfactory.
- Degree programmes in agricultural engineering may be less popular than other programmes, resulting in a lower endowment of resources.
- Working long hours in the field during growing seasons or favourable weather conditions is physically demanding and exhausting.
- Ensuring that nutrients and other inputs are applied optimally in a mixed crop system
- We are addressing the need to nearly double food production to feed a growing population expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050.
- Finding solutions to complex environmental, energy, and climate change problems to move toward global sustainability; refining and redesigning farming equipment and machines to achieve precision farming and reduce air, water, and soil pollution.
- Innovating risk assessment tools and technologies, such as bio and nanosensors for the data collection on food safety and traceability
- Adapting robotics and automation to agricultural needs, such as reducing weed control pesticide use
Suggested Work Experience
They are getting an internship with a well-known company while in college is usually a great way to secure a job after graduation. However, some Agricultural Engineers don’t have the opportunity to work directly for companies in the agriculture industry, which can sometimes make it difficult for them to secure placements. If that’s the situation, they can complete a diploma program to specialize in the field.
To become an Agricultural Engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or biological/biosystems engineering. These programs typically take about four years to complete and usually include an internship with an agricultural company. A master’s degree or a doctorate in agriculture can boost your chances of scoring a job at a leading national agriculture company. Diploma programs in either equipment or yield can be a great addition for individuals interested in securing a job with a well-respected company.
Certifications, Licenses and Registration
Certification shows that an Agricultural Engineer has the necessary skills, usually gained through work experience, training, passing an exam, or a combination. Getting certified by a well-known organization can boost your professional reputation, enhance your skills in a particular field, and keep you in the loop with the latest technology.
Projected Career Map
As farming establishments need more machinery, equipment, and buildings to make agricultural production systems more efficient, the demand for Agricultural Engineers is expected to stay high.
Agricultural Engineers can transfer their skills to different areas of specialization that are currently relevant. Some areas that are being focused on include alternative energies and biofuels. There’s also a lot of attention to precision and automated farming technologies, which can help with irrigation, spraying, harvesting, and even growing food in space to support future exploration.
As the population grows and global competition intensifies, the industry will require more efficient production methods. This, in turn, will lead to an increased demand for Agricultural Engineers.
As you gain more experience, you can also move up the ladder and take on executive and management positions in agriculture and horticulture.
Graduates with a background in biological and agricultural engineering might have a leg up when it comes to applying for jobs in the field of agricultural engineering. Civil and mechanical engineers could also be candidates for these positions but may face stiffer competition. Moving to different locations can also improve your chances of finding a job.
Beneficial Professional Development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is a great way for individuals to enhance their skills and expertise. It can be achieved through various methods such as work-based learning, engaging in professional activities, pursuing formal education, or even self-directed learning. It lets you keep improving your skills, no matter how old you are, your job, or how much you already know.
As recruits, Agricultural Engineers might work under the guidance of more experienced senior engineers. As they continue to gain knowledge and skills through hands-on experience at work, they might take on more difficult projects. This allows them to become more independent in making decisions and developing solutions to agricultural issues.
Diploma or certificate programs in fields like equipment or yield can greatly enhance your career prospects.
You might consider pursuing additional studies to attain higher academic qualifications, depending on your career goals. You should consider enrolling in a postgraduate program in international agricultural engineering to enhance your skills. A degree program like that will teach you specific skills and versatile abilities useful globally.
Agricultural Engineers can pursue a career in research and academia by enrolling in a PhD, doctoral, or postdoctoral program.
Agricultural engineers have a lot on their plate as they work to incorporate new biological discoveries into farming practices, like finding ways to produce energy right on the farm. Exciting and eco-friendly ways to utilize agricultural waste are starting to come to light, and crops are providing us with food and producing novel and valuable byproducts. Agricultural engineers work hard to ensure that agricultural equipment, methods, and products meet the food demands and standards of the United States and the world.
Advice from the Wise
Agricultural engineers possess a specialized and versatile skill set that is highly sought after. You can consider yourself a mechanical, chemical, electronic, civil, and computer engineer, all combined into a single package. To thrive in the workplace, having a wide range of skills and knowledge is crucial. This includes being well-versed in robotics, sensors, autonomous vehicles, climate, soil chemistry, and other areas.