Agribusiness, Horticulture & Fishing
Agricultural engineers use technology and engineering science to improve agricultural production and manage natural resources.
What does an Agricultural Engineer do?
Agricultural engineers use technology and engineering science to improve agricultural production and manage natural resources. They may apply their engineering knowledge and skills in areas such as as sustainable agriculture, the environmental impacts of various agriculture practices, improving conservation, planning environments for animals, and even finding better ways to process agricultural products that are made into food.
As an agricultural engineer, your work could involve:
- assessing the environmental impact of various agricultural production methods
- supervising agricultural construction projects, like land drainage, reclamation and irrigation
- testing and installing new equipment, such as harvesters, crop sprayers, storage facilities and logging machinery
- analysing GPS and weather data and using computer modelling to advise farmers and businesses on land use, for instance how to increase crop yields or cope with changing climate conditions
- performing environmental impact assessments.
Depending on the size of the company you work for, you might also be involved in managing and coordinating sales, marketing and technical support.
Key skills and interests
To become an agricultural engineer, you should have:
- the ability to analyse data
- a creative approach to problem solving
- excellent technical, scientific, maths and IT skills
- the ability to prioritise and plan work effectively
- the ability to take responsibility and lead a team.
Working hours and conditions
Agricultural engineers would normally work full-time, Monday to Friday, although field work may require longer working hours, or weekend work, depending on the job.
You could be based in a laboratory, workshop or office for design and research work. Site work would be in all weather conditions, on farms or construction projects. You may have to travel, locally or nationally, depending on your role.
How to become an Agricultural Engineer?
Entry Level Education
To become an agricultural engineer you usually have to study engineering at university with a major in agricultural engineering. English and mathematics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Graduates may be eligible for membership of Engineers Australia.
Employment of agricultural engineers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Agricultural engineers are diversifying into newer areas, including technology driven applications to agricultural products, natural resource management particularly for water, and alternative energies. New machinery and equipment required in these areas is also is expected to create some employment opportunities.
Agricultural engineers are also involved with designing and building machinery and equipment needed to implement findings from research on genetically modified plants and seeds.