What is agricultural engineering?


Agriculture has a long history. Evidence from agricultural engineering can be found in ancient civilizations, including tools and techniques such as plowing, grain storage and irrigation. As we know today, modern agricultural engineering began to develop after the 1930s. At the time, it played a negligible role in Europe, although the situation varied from country to country. In the course of the last century, various machines were developed and improved for agricultural use - providing food for the growth of the urban population. However, despite the importance of agricultural engineering for this primary sector, the development of this profession is still slow and limited in scope. Agricultural machinery and buildings are designed based on skills and accumulated experience rather than coordinated scientific research. The same applies to post-harvest technology and greenhouses as well as ergonomics, safety and labor organizations. Until a long time later, environmental protection and sustainable land use became the subject of scientific research.

In order to solve these problems and promote international cooperation of researchers, and to combine cooperation with working conditions for improving agricultural and rural activities, the International Agricultural Engineering Council (CIGR) was established in 1930. 4 The technical problems of agricultural engineering are few and relatively simple. The focus of research is on agricultural tools. Over time, agricultural machinery, adaptive mechanics, machine testing and standardization have become the main subjects, while the Scientific Labor Organization strongly emphasizes attitudes, life and health in all human work.

After the disaster of the Second World War, agriculture was an area that required huge reconstruction work. The population is seriously affected, the distorted economy has to be repositioned, and society must sprout again. Farm materials and equipment must be rebuilt, updated or even created. It is necessary to meet the needs of the population as soon as possible and agricultural engineering to make agriculture - the cornerstone of economic recovery. Since the end of the 1950s, once the problems of the post-war period have ended, the industry has experienced considerable unexpected growth.

The main concerns of today’s agricultural engineers are best understood by looking at the technical sections and current working groups of the CIGR. In terms of education, the scope of agricultural engineering means that it is now, in many cases, taught under the headings of the other branches of engineering – notably environmental engineering.

Looking ahead, humans face many problems due to their own activities, such as ecosystem disturbances, population growth, resource depletion and environmental degradation. The challenge we face is to use our knowledge and innovation to overcome these problems in the context of climate and environmental change to meet some of the basic needs of life: providing everyone with enough food and enough drinking water.

Reproduced from Irenilza de Alencar Naas and Takaaki Maekawa, UNESCO Report, Engineering: Issue Challenges and Development Opportunities.

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