Agricultural and Biological engineering, two closely integrated disciplines are often called biological systems (biosystems), bioresources, or natural resources engineering. The expanding world population is increasing demands on our limited natural resources. Biological and agricultural engineers work to ensure that we have the necessities of life – safe and plentiful food to eat, pure water to drink, clean fuel and energy sources and a safe, healthy environment.
Agricultural engineering is the discipline of engineering in agricultural, food, and biological systems. Agricultural engineers design agricultural machinery and equipment and agricultural structures. Some specialties include power system and machinery design; structures and environment; and food and bioprocess engineering. They develop ways to conserve soil and water and to improve the processing of agricultural products. Agricultural engineers work in research and development, production, sales, or management.
Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of disciplines and may be looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer.
Agricultural engineering involves the design of agricultural machinery and equipment, the development of ways to conserve water and improve the processing of agricultural foods, and the development of ways in which to conserve soil and water. None of this would be possible without an understanding of geology, chemistry, and biology.
Agricultural engineers – apply “engineering principles to any process associated with producing agriculturally based goods and management of our natural resources”. They design agricultural machinery, equipment, sensors, processes and structures and solve problems related to farming. Agricultural engineers are also called biological engineers. Their work ensures that we have the necessities of life like food, water, clean fuel and energy sources, and a healthy environment.
Here are some of the ways that agricultural and biological engineers are working to improve food production and yield of other crops
- The moldboard plow, 18th century – The first plow that not only dug soil up but turned it over, allowing for the cultivation of harder ground. Without it, agriculture as we know it would not exist in northern Europe or the American Midwest.
- The cotton gin, 1793 – Institutionalized the cotton industry—and slavery—in the American South
- Nitrogen fixation, 1918 – The German chemist Fritz Haber, also the father of chemical weapons, won a Nobel Prize for his development of the ammonia-synthesis process, which was used to create a new class of fertilizers central to the green revolution
- Scientific plant breeding, 1920s – Humans have been manipulating plant species for nearly as long as we’ve grown them, but it wasn’t until early-20th-century scientists discovered a forgotten 1866 paper by the Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel that we figured out how plant breeding—and, later on, human genetics—worked.
- The combine harvester, 1930s – Mechanized the farm, freeing people to do new types of work
Thirty-five Water Conservation Methods for Agriculture, Farming, and Gardening – Today, some 2.8 billion people live in water-scarce areas, but by 2030, it is expected that about half of the world’s population will live in water stressed areas.
Meet Agricultural and Biological Engineers
- Sergio Jesus Vaelasco created Solid Rain, a blend of absorbent material used to soak up water to about 500 times its size, and it looks like large salt crystals, that will be released to the plants over time. The water never evaporates or runs off—it is only absorbed by the roots of plants. And the plants don’t absorb the polymer because it is, oddly enough, insoluble in water. An added benefit – Because little watering is needed, the nitrogen in the soil is not as likely to be washed away.
- [/Environmental Environmental] – working with agriculture to ensure sustainable food and water resources
- [/Energy Energy]
- [/Mechanical Mechanical] – many of the advances in agriculture are through mechanization, using farm equipment to increase productivity of food production
- [/Civil Civil] – irrigation, flood control
- [/Industrial%2C%20Manufacturing Industrial, Manufacturing] – producing tools and machinery to improve agricultural productivity
What’s the problem?
- Ask –
- Imagine –
- Design, Build –
- Improve –
- What are some of engineering advancements in agriculture?
- How can engineers help improve food production in the future? What are some of the biggest challenges to ensuring that everyone on earth has enough to eat?
- harvesting, water management