Skip to main content
 NCSU Department of Biological and Agriclutural Engineering Go the Bio and Ag homepage go the College of Ag. and Life Sciences go to College of Engineering go to NC State Homepage

What does an agricultural engineer do?

Agricultural Engineering Undergraduate Concentration

Agricultural Air Quality Engineers work with farmers of confined animal housing to solve air quality issues. Learn agricultural engineering at work with the farming community to improve production, product quality and the environment for workers and animals.

The Agricultural Engineer's Work

Agricultural engineers must have a wealth of knowledge and skills to function effectively in the multiplicity of the agricultural and agribusiness industries. The agricultural engineer helps to make farming sustainable, safe, and environmentally friendly. They analyze agricultural operations and weigh the use of new technologies and methods to increase yields, improve land use, and conserve resources like seed, water, fertilizers, pesticides and fuel. The engineer recommends strategies to protect the health, safety and security of worker's, animals and agricultural products.

Agricultural engineers develop methods and design equipment for land preparation, planting and harvesting. They incorporate automation, precision and smart technologies "intelligence" to new and existing equipment. Sensors (including biosensors) are combined with microcomputers, controllers, artificial intelligence and other software, to optimize efficiency, sustainability, and the reliability of our food, feed, fiber and fuel economy.

Agriculture engineers find better ways to reduce crop loss from field damage, during handling, sorting, packing and processing. The warehousing of food and fiber are an important part of the agriculture industry. The agricultural engineer is the person who plans the heating, cooling, ventilation, postharvest handling, logistics and more.

Specific examples of Agricultural engineering work include:

• Agricultural power units, harvesters, material handling, implements'
• Agricultural production facilities
• Environmental controls for poultry, swine, beef, aquaculture, plants, etc.
• Precision agriculture utilizing GPS, yields monitors, remote sensing and variable-rate technology
• Worker safety, comfort, and efficiency including the control of vibration, noise, air quality, heating, cooling, etc.
• Sales, service, training, management, planning, market and product research related to implementing and applying technologies.

A Caterpillar in Operation it is an agricultural engineer who will design and improve these machines. Learn agricultural engineering at
Tractor mounted computer system are growing more effective every year. Learn agricultural engineering at

Machines power agriculture and Ag. engineers
design machines.

An agricultural engineer may develop new
"smart machines" or retrofit older ones with new
technologies. They may also design new machines
with multiple functions to save time and energy
and to improve the value of a machine to the farmer.

Where do agricultural engineers work?

The agricultural engineer can be found working with industries associated with agriculture such as equipment companies, seed manufacturers and food companies / distributors. Some agricultural engineers like to work directly with farmers and agricultural technicians to solve issues with crop, land and livestock. Large farm operations may consult or hire agricultural engineers to resolve management and technical issues. A good number of engineers work for government agencies that oversee agricultural entities.

The agricultural engineer has plenty to do as increasing biological discoveries are adopted to farming practices like on-farm energy production. New uses for agricultural waste are becoming evident and crops are yielding not only food but new byproducts. The continuing cost of agricultural operations and our increasing populations mean career opportunities for agricultural engineers should always be in demand.

Professional License

Many agricultural engineers choose to earn a Professional Engineers License. Although it's not necessary, being licensed assures competencies and expands opportunities for advancement.

Professional Organizations:

Agricultural engineers also have the opportunity to become affiliates of professional organizations like the American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers (ASABE)

Learn more about biological and agricultural engineering.