Most countries of the world, even the so called ‘Developed Countries’ depend on agriculture for the sustenance of their economies. However, in developed countries, agriculture is no longer practised in its crude ways. A farmer in such a country is a businessman with all modern gadgets at his disposal. Engineering has been fully incorporated into agriculture. The potentials of agricultural engineers have been fully utilized.
Agricultural Engineering is the application of engineering and technological principles to solving problems of agriculture, ranging from land preparation, crop production, animal production and housing to harvesting, processing, storage and marketing of agricultural products. According to the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), now the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), the first Agricultural Engineering professional body in the world,
“agricultural engineering is the application of any and/or all the major branches of engineering to the extent that they may be used in farming, in rural living, rural processing of farm products and such allied activities as wildlife conservation ”
Wikipedia further defines Agricultural Engineering as the development of science and technology in the context of agricultural production and processing and for the management of natural resources. From these definitions, it is obvious that, though Agricultural Engineering is a profession on its own, it entails other areas of engineering such as Chemical (in Food Processing and Storage), Mechanical (in Farm Power and Machinery), Civil (in Farm Structure and Environment and Soil and Water Conservation Engineering), Electrical (in Farm Electrification and Processing Machines), Electronics and Computers (in the use of Robotics and CAD for certain farm operation such as automatic feeding, electronic irrigation) and many more!
One can think of an agricultural engineer as a ‘Jack of all engineering branches and almost master of all’.
The main sub-divisions of Agricultural Engineering, approved by ASABE are:
- Farm Power and Machinery
- Farm Structure and Environment
- Electric Power and Processing
- Food Processing Engineering
- Soil and Water Conservation Engineering
In recent time however, new areas of specializations have emerged within the discipline. They are:
- Renewable Energy
- Precision Agriculture
- Amenity and Ecological Engineering
- Information and Human Interface
- Automation and Robotics
- Safety and Health Engineering