Agriculture is the production of food and other goods by systematic and controlled growing of plants and living organisms. It involves working the land, harvesting the crops, rearing and management of farming as well as breeding and raising live stock. In the broad sense, Agriculture includes agronomy, animal husbandry, horticulture, floraculture, aquaculture, silviculture etc. Agriculture plays a major role in the Indian economic scenario contributing around 23% to the Gross Domestic products (GDP). Around 62% of Indian population depend on agriculture for a livelihood.
When the principles of engineering and biological science are applied to agriculture, it is called agricultural engineering. Agricultural engineering, sometimes known as biological engineering, is a diverse engineering discipline which mainly focus on the creation and development of tools (i.e farm machineries and other implements related to agriculture) that can improve farming techniques. It can also be defined as a field of agricultural science where engineering principles are applied for the improvement and advancement of agriculture industry. Modern agriculture is highly competitive and technology-driven with a wide variety of specialties and techniques. Hi-tech agricultural graduates are in great demand due to the global trend toward standardization of all agricultural products and equipment. In recent years, agricultural engineering has contributed a lot to the agricultural production in the country both directly and indirectly.
In agricultural engineering, the knowledge of agricultural principles are combined with the principles of animal biology, plant biology, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and chemical engineering. At the same time, it also utilises mathematics and science principles for the practical solutions to agricultural issues. Compared with the other engineering disciplines, agricultural engineering has an extensive scope. It is a process which involves production, processing, transportation and storage of agricultural commodities and reconstruction of rural areas. The four main branches of Agricultural engineering are (i) farm equipments (ii) rural structures (iii) soil conservation, drainage, and irrigation and (iv) rural electricity.
A career in the field of agricultural engineering is quite interesting, challenging as well as rewarding. It is an apt career for those who have keen agricultural knowledge along with good engineering skills. Agricultural engineers are those who design agricultural equipment and agricultural structures by means of better engineering methods, inventions and new technologies. In other words, they have to look after the agricultural functioning to bring about efficient increase in food productivity. With their engineering skills and knowledge, agricultural engineers solve problems related to agricultural equipment, water quality and water management, biological products, livestock facilities, food processing, and many other agricultural areas.
The career opportunities for agricultural engineering graduates has increased rapidly because of the advancements in biotechnology and growing concerns over environmental quality. Agricultural engineers can either specialize in designing power and machine systems, animal or plant production, environment management or in food and bioprocess. Some of the major jobs handled by agricultural engineers involve improving agricultural farm equipments, farm structures, rural electrification, biogas, new technologies in the design and manufacture of agricultural products and conservation of soil and water.
Students who wish to pursue a career in Agricultural Engineering should possess a strong foundation in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. To become a qualified agricultural engineer one should have a Bachelors degree (B.E/ B.Tech.) or a Masters degree (M.E/M.Tech.) in Agricultural Engineering or at least a diploma in Agricultural Engineering with a minimum of 3 to 4 years experience in field of landscaping, plantation of vegetables, fruits etc.
Educational Qualification & Selection:
The basic eligibility criteria for BE/ B.Tech in Agricultural Engineering is 10+2 or equivalent with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and preferably Biology. Duration of bachelors course in agricultural engineering is 4 years. Besides the required educational qualification, the candidates have to appear for the entrance examination conducted at the State level, National level or University level. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi conducts an All India Examination for admission to Agricultural colleges for B.Tech. courses all over the country. All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by IIT are the other two entrance which are accepted by various institutes. Apart from these, each State/ institute may conduct their own entrance examination, and some among them are State Entrance Examination conducted by Uttar Pradesh Technical University (SEE UPTU), EAMCET by Andhra Pradesh, KCET by Karnataka etc.
M.E/ M.Tech courses are of 2 years duration and most institutes admit candidates to these programmes through Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). B.E/ B.Tech in Agriculture/ Horticulture or its equivalent is the minimum qualification. Some institutes conducted their own Entrance examination for the post graduate programmes. Candidates with master's degree can go for the 3 years Ph.D. course.
Post graduate degree and diploma courses in agriculture are also offered by various institutes which is usually of 2 years duration. Eligibility for diploma courses in agricultural engineering is 10+2 and these courses can be done through polytechnics. The Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) offers Postgraduate Diploma in Agribusiness Management (earlier known as Specialisation Package in Agriculture). A number of agricultural universities have now introduced management courses in agriculture and related subjects.
Course Areas : Bachelors course in agricultural engineering covers the areas like basic physical engineering, agriculture sciences, soil conservation, drainage method, irrigation practices, firm machinery, dairy engineering etc. Specialization in crop process engineering, farm machinery and power, soil and water conservation, etc are some of the course areas at the post graduate level.
PersonalSkill : The major task of an agricultural engineer is the enhancement of agricultural production and for that they should be familiar with product engineering, equipment research and designing. They should possess practicality, organizing skills, communication skills, precision, understanding power and capacity to toil. Other desired attributes are logical thinking, ability to deal with people diplomatically, patience, ability to keep calm under pressure and in inevitable crises, creativity, flexibility to understand and apply new technologies. Ability to conceptualize forms or structure, and draw sketches will be an added advantage. Besides all these, agricultural engineers require a good intellect and must have a desire to make a difference to the future of farming.