About the Profession

What is Agricultural Engineering?

In brief, agricultural engineering is the discipline which applies engineering principles to agriculture and other bio-based industries, including the sustainable management of natural resources. Agricultural Engineering encompasses aspects of other engineering and scientific disciplines and connects the living world of plants, water and animals with the technology of engineering, i.e. systems, structures and machines.

The increasing realisation of agriculture as a biosystems industry and the importance of biology as a fundamental discipline underpinning the development and application of engineering in agriculture, has resulted in curriculum reform and renaming of traditional agricultural engineering departments and professional associations to include variants, such as biosystems, bioresources and biological engineering.

Overall, the choice of a name is hugely dependent on the local situation. For instance, it now clear that while institutions in North America favour biological engineering and Europeans prefer biosystems engineering, those in Africa favour bioresources engineering. Notwithstanding the name changes and curriculum reforms, the discipline remains anchored to serve agriculture and related bio-based industries. This requires specialised understanding of the biological materials (such as plants and animals), organisms, environment, and their interaction with engineering systems.

It is therefore clear from the above that the breadth and depth of agricultural engineering discipline and professional practice is wide ranging, from on-farm activities such as irrigation, drainage, land preparation, precision planting, spraying and mechanical harvesting, to postharvest operations such as quality control, cooling, drying, packaging, storage, transport and processing, bio-energy, environmental and natural resources management. It is because of this complexity and multi-disciplinary nature of these issues that we call on stakeholders, within and outside Africa, interested in the future of a productive and sustainable agri-food and environmental systems, to join us in promoting the future of AfroAgEng.