Agricultural engineering is the engineering agricultural production and processing. Agricultural engineering combines the disciplines of mechanical, civil, electrical, Food science and chemical engineering principles with a knowledge of agricultural principles according to technological principles. A key goal of this discipline is to improve the efficacy and sustainability of agricultural practices.
The first use of agricultural engineering was the introduction of irrigation in large scale agriculture. The practice would not expand until the industrial revolution.
With the rise of tractors and machines in the industrial revolution, a new age in Agricultural Engineering began. Over the course of the industrial revolution, mechanical harvesters and planters would replace field hands in most of the food and cash crop industries. In the 20th century, with the rise in reliable engines in airplanes, cropdusters were implemented to disperse pesticides. The introduction of these engineering concepts into the field of agriculture allowed for an enormous boost in the productivity of crops, dubbed a "second agricultural revolution".
Agricultural engineers may engage in any of the following areas:
- design of agricultural machinery, equipment, and agricultural structures
- internal combustion engines as applied to agricultural machinery
- agricultural resource management (including land use and water use)
- water management, conservation, and storage for crop irrigation and livestock production
- surveying and land profiling
- climatology and atmospheric science
- soil management and conservation, including erosion and erosion control
- seeding, tillage, harvesting, and processing of crops
- livestock production, including poultry, fish, and dairy animals
- waste management, including animal waste, agricultural residues, and fertilizer runoff
- food engineering and the processing of agricultural products
- basic principles of circuit analysis, as applied to electrical motors
- physical and chemical properties of materials used in, or produced by, agricultural production
- bioresource engineering, which uses machines on the molecular level to help the environment.
Crop processing and Storage which deals with post harvest handling of crops
- Design of experiments related to crop and animal production
Agricultural engineers may perform tasks such as planning, supervising and managing the building of dairy effluent schemes, irrigation, drainage, flood water control systems, performing environmental impact assessments, agricultural product processing and interpret research results and implement relevant practices. A large percentage of agricultural engineers work in academia or for government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture or state agricultural extension services. Some are consultants, employed by private engineering firms, while others work in industry, for manufacturers of agricultural machinery, equipment, processing technology, and structures for housing livestock and storing crops. Agricultural engineers work in production, sales, management, research and development, or applied science.
In the United Kingdom the term Agricultural Engineer is often also used to describe a person that repairs or modifies agricultural equipment.
The American Society of Agricultural Engineers, now known as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), was founded in 1907. It is a leading organization in the Agricultural Engineering field. The ASABE provides safety and regulatory standards for the agricultural industry. These standards and regulations are developed on an international scale and include topics on fertilizers, soil conditions, fisheries, biofuels, biogas, feed machinery, tractors, and machinery.
The first curriculum in agricultural engineering was established at Iowa State University by J. B. Davidson in 1905.
Academic programs in agricultural and bio-systems engineeringEdit
- Brown, R.H. (ed). (1988). CRC handbook of engineering in agriculture. Boca Raton, FL.: CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-3860-3.
- Field, H. L., Solie, J. B., & Roth, L. O. (2007). Introduction to agricultural engineering technology: a problem solving approach. New York: Springer. ISBN 0-387-36913-9.
- Stewart, Robert E. (1979). Seven decades that changed America: a history of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1907-1977. St. Joseph, Mich.: ASAE. OCLC 5947727.
- DeForest, S. S. (2007). The vision that cut drugery from farming forever. St. Joseph, Mich.: ASAE. ISBN 1-892769-61-1.