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Agricultural Engineering

A career path for those who love getting their hands dirty to help combat food and water supply and wastage problems.

What Agricultural Engineers Do

Agricultural Engineers are concerned with designing, constructing and improving farming machinery, equipment and biotechnology.

Agricultural Engineers perform a range of duties, from designing and building infrastructure such as reservoirs, dams and warehouses, to developing new forms of biofuels from agricultural waste.

Most professionals design and build machinery, equipment and parts, however recently there has been a focus on sustainability and ecological design, such as carbon sequestering or land reclamation projects.

There is currently a huge shortage of Agricultural Engineers in Australia.

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Agricultural Engineers apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems concerned with power and machinery, electrification, structures, soil and water conservation, and processing of agricultural products.

Typical Tasks Include:

  • Prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, proposals, and budgets for proposed sites or systems.
  • Discuss plans with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers so that they can be evaluated and necessary changes made.
  • Meet with clients, such as district or regional councils, farmers, and developers, to discuss their needs.
  • Provide advice on water quality and issues related to pollution management, river control, and ground and surface water resources.
  • Plan and direct construction of rural electric-power distribution systems, and irrigation, drainage, and flood control systems for soil and water conservation.

Agricultural Technicians set up or maintain laboratory equipment and collect samples from crops or animals. They also prepare specimens or record data to assist scientists in biology or related life science experiments.

Typical Tasks Include:

  • Record data pertaining to experimentation, research, or animal care.
  • Measure or weigh ingredients used in laboratory testing.
  • Prepare data summaries, reports, or analyses that include results, charts, or graphs to document research findings and results.
  • Set up laboratory or field equipment as required for site testing.
  • Prepare laboratory samples for analysis, following proper protocols to ensure that they will be stored, prepared, and disposed of efficiently and effectively.

Environmental Engineers research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines.Work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

Typical Tasks Include:

  • Design, or supervise the design of, systems, processes, or equipment for control, management, or remediation of water, air, or soil quality.
  • Advise corporations or government agencies of procedures to follow in cleaning up contaminated sites to protect people and the environment.
  • Collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, experts in law or business, or other specialists to address environmental problems.
  • Obtain, update, or maintain plans, permits, or standard operating procedures.
  • Serve as liaison with federal, state, or local agencies or officials on issues pertaining to solid or hazardous waste program requirements.

Food Engineers use chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods. They also analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, and protein.

Food Engineers discover new food sources; research ways to make processed foods safe, palatable, and healthful. They also apply food science knowledge to determine best ways to process, package, preserve, store, and distribute food.

Typical Tasks Include:

  • Check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing, and finished products for safety, quality, and nutritional value.
  • Inspect food processing areas to ensure compliance with government regulations and standards for sanitation, safety, quality, and waste management.
  • Evaluate food processing and storage operations and assist in the development of quality assurance programs for such operations.
  • Study methods to improve aspects of foods, such as chemical composition, flavor, color, texture, nutritional value, and convenience.
  • Stay up to date on new regulations and current events regarding food science by reviewing scientific literature.

Soil and Plant Scientists conduct research on breeding, physiology, production, yield, and management of crops and agricultural plants or trees, shrubs, and nursery stock. They also research their growth in soils, and control of pests.

Soil and Plant Scientists study the chemical, physical, biological, and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth.

They may classify and map soils and investigate effects of alternative practices on soil and crop productivity.

Typical Tasks Include:

  • Communicate research or project results to other professionals or the public or teach related courses, seminars, or workshops.
  • Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value, or adaptation to specific soils or climates.
  • Develop new or improved methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.
  • Provide information or recommendations to farmers or other landowners regarding ways in which they can best use land, promote plant growth, or avoid or correct problems such as erosion.
  • Develop environmentally safe methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or insect pests.

Water or Wastewater Engineers design or oversee projects involving provision of potable water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, or prevention of flood-related damage.

They also prepare environmental documentation for water resources, regulatory program compliance, data management and analysis, and field work.

Other tasks include hydraulic modeling and pipeline design.


Agricultural Engineering provides you with the following valuable skills

Agricultural Machinery & Hydraulics 90%
Collection of Biological & Non-living Samples 80%
Data Interpretation & Analysis 70%
Design of Buildings, Equipment & Machinery 95%
Developing & Implementing Sustainable Agricultural Models 100%
Drafting & Implementing Construction Plans 90%
Hydrology (e.g. irrigation, drainage and other water-control systems) 80%
Post-harvest Technology 75%
Supervision of all aspects of production, from seed to table 100%
Sustainable agricultural production 95%
Waste Management 90%

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This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.