Agricultural Engineering: The branch of engineering that deals with the design of farm machinery, the location and planning of farm structures, farm drainage, soil management and erosion control, water supply and irrigation, rural electrification, and the processing of farm products
Agricultural Engineer: An engineer who specializes in the design, development, production and installation of agricultural and forest machinery and effectively guides on rural development and management of natural resources.
What Agricultural Engineers Do
Agricultural engineers attempt to solve agricultural problems concerning power supplies, the efficiency of machinery, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.
Duties of Agricultural Engineers
Agricultural engineers typically do the following:
- Use computer software to design equipment, systems, or structures
- Modify environmental factors that affect animal or crop production, such as airflow in a barn or runoff patterns on a field
- Test equipment to ensure its safety and reliability
- Oversee construction and production operations
- Plan and work together with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to ensure effective and desirable outcomes
Agricultural engineers work in farming, including aquaculture (farming of seafood), forestry, and food processing. They work on a wide variety of projects. For example, some agricultural engineers work to develop climate control systems that increase the comfort and productivity of livestock whereas others work to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of refrigeration. Many agricultural engineers attempt to develop better solutions for animal waste disposal. Those with computer programing skills work to integrate artificial intelligence and geospatial systems into agriculture. For example, they work to improve efficiency in fertilizer application or to automate harvesting systems.
Work Environment for Agricultural Engineers
Agricultural engineers hold about 2,700 jobs. The largest employers of agricultural engineers were as follows:
|Federal government, excluding postal service||14|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state||11|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||9|
Agricultural engineers typically work in offices, but may spend time at a variety of worksites, both indoors and outdoors. They may travel to agricultural settings to see that equipment and machinery are functioning according to both the manufacturers' specifications and federal and state regulations. Some agricultural engineers occasionally work in laboratories to test the quality of processing equipment. They may work onsite when they supervise livestock facility upgrades or water resource management projects.
Agricultural engineers work with others in designing solutions to problems or applying technological advances. They work with people from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, agronomy, animal sciences, and public policy.
Agricultural Engineer Work Schedules
Agricultural engineers typically work full time. Schedules may vary because of weather conditions or other complications. When working on outdoor projects, agricultural engineers may work more hours to take advantage of good weather or fewer hours in case of bad weather.
In addition, agricultural engineers may need to be available outside of normal work hours to address unexpected problems that come up in manufacturing operations or rural construction projects.