What Does An Agricultural Engineer Do?

"I am interested in a career that would give me the chance to work in an agricultural environment, particularly in designing better and more efficient agricultural machinery. I understand that I would be able to do this if I become an agricultural engineer. Can you please give me more information on what an agricultural engineer does?"

asked by Noah J. from Casa Grande, Arizona

In a nutshell, the work of agricultural engineers revolves around making farming safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly. This is a heavy responsibility and encompasses many different tasks. They evaluate agricultural operations to determine if there is a need to use innovative technologies to improve yields and conserve valuable resources. Farmers also look to agricultural engineers for strategies that help them safeguard the health and security of their farmhands, their flock and the rest of their agricultural produce.

For example, agricultural engineers help in the planning and supervise the building of electric power distribution systems in the rural areas. In places where there is a shortage of power, they also help farmers come up with biomass and other forms of alternative energy to help generate power. They also provide advice to bigger farms on how to control the pollution and waste generated by their operations as well as help those with water shortage issues find a solution to their problem.

In order to minimize the loss of crops due to damage in the handling, processing and packing stages, agricultural engineers design warehouses equipped with the proper heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

They also put in place handling and logistics measures to ensure that crops are handled and transported properly. They also do the same for farm animals, coming up with housing that promote their health and improve their productivity. Agricultural engineers may also work in tandem with agricultural and food scientists as they try to come up with crops that are more resistant to pests.

An important part of the work of agricultural engineers is in designing agricultural equipment that prepare the land as well as equipment for planting and harvesting. These designs are usually made with the use of computer-aided (CAD) technology so agricultural engineers should also be comfortable with computers and software. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are already part of many farming equipment these days, making knowledge of the latest technological advances crucial for agricultural engineers. To ensure that machinery and equipment work as intended, agricultural engineers are also responsible for testing them.

When there are land reclamation projects related to agriculture, agricultural engineers are tasked with the project’s design and supervision. In these undertakings, they work together with clients, contractors and other engineers to review the plans and make any changes if these are necessary.

While there are agricultural engineers that work directly with farmers, many of them typically work with architectural, engineering and related industries, equipment makers, seed manufacturers and food firms or food distributors as well as in government agencies. They may also be hired as consultants by big farms or have their services engaged only when management and technical difficulties arise which require their expertise.

Career Spotlight: Agricultural Engineer

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