Do you love to work in the field of agriculture science? Are you interested in using the power of technology to improve the quality of agriculture and agricultural yield in India? If you think yes, then there are several career options for you like plant scientist, botanist, agriculturist, agricultural engineer, and horticulturist. If you are particularly interested in solving problems through developing and improving equipment, processes, etc. Of agriculture then you should seek a career in agricultural engineering.
An agriculture engineer is a specialist who works to improve the technology related to agriculture by either creating new products, machinery, or processes or by managing agricultural equipment manufacturing. As an agricultural engineer, you will also solve problems related to irrigation. Some of you will visit the agricultural farms to understand problems and solve them using technology and science. Some of you will work on soil management, waste management, food engineering, agricultural resource management (using land and water), etc.
Why become an Agriculture Engineering?
Agricultural Engineers work in the area of agriculture to solve agricultural problems through design, construction and improvement of machinery and tools and equipment used in farming and agriculture. As an agricultural engineer, you will also solve problems related to power supplies, the efficiency of machines used in farming and food processing, use of agricultural facilities and structures, pollution, environmental issues and the storage and processing of agricultural products.
As an agricultural engineer, you will also work towards soil management, food engineering, waste management, bio-resource development, etc. You will be responsible for planning, supervising and managing farms. You will also solve problems related to irrigation, drainage, and flood water control systems.
Popular specialization in Agriculture Engineering profession
Agricultural Post-Harvest Technologists are an agricultural specialist who works in food and food processing technologies, skills and infrastructure specialty in canned, dairy packaging, frozen food, thermal processing, etc. As a Post-Harvest Technologist, you will be working on food processing of fruits, vegetables, meat, milk and dairy products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, grain processing, fisheries, poultry, etc. As post-harvest, fruits, vegetables and meat tend to go through several chemical and physiological changes that lead to their deterioration, as a post-harvest technologist you will work on the reduction of moisture, denaturation of microorganisms, packaging etc. to reduce the perishability of food and elongate their life. You will work to reduce spoilage while maintaining the quality of food.
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What does Agriculture Engineering do?
As an Agriculture Engineer, depending on your field of specialization, you would have the following roles and responsibilities:
- You will be required to prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, budgets, and proposals, for the farming sites.
- You will use computer software to design equipment, machines, structures and systems.
- You will work to modify and make changes to the environmental factors that may affect crop production. Some of the factors are airflow in the barn, etc.
- You will ensure the safety and reliability of equipment by testing them.
- You will manage and supervise construction and production work.
- You will meet clients, contractors, consultants, etc. to evaluate the necessary change in products, processes, etc.
- You will work with farmers to understand their needs and solve them.
- You will work towards pollution management by providing advice on water quality and issues. You will also work towards river water, ground and surface water management.
- You will work towards the construction of the rural electric system, irrigation systems, drainage systems, flow control systems and water conservation.
- Some of you will be working in Agri related fields like aquaculture (seafood farming), food processing and forestry also.
How to become an Agriculture Engineering – eligibility criteria
You study for a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering. After your Bachelor’s, you may opt for a Master’s in Agricultural Engineering with any of the following specializations:
- Agricultural and Farm Machinery
- Agricultural Biotechnology (Engineering)
- Agricultural Materials & Post-Harvest Technologies
- Agricultural Soil Mechanics
- Agricultural Structures & Processing
- Agricultural Systems and Management
- Agrochemical Engineering
- Aquaculture Engineering
- Farm Machinery & Power Engineering
- Food Engineering
- Irrigation Engineering
- Land & Water Resources Engineering
- Post-Harvest Engineering & Technologies
- Soil & Water Conservation Engineering
- After your Bachelor’s degree, you can get a job as a Graduate Engineer Trainee in a firm engaged in the agricultural industry. After your Post Graduate degree, you can get a job as an Assistant Engineer. If you have a particular specialization in a Master’s such as in Seed Technology or Biotechnology, then you will be designated similarly. You may get a job in Sales and Marketing too in the agriculture and food processing industry.
- You may join an agricultural research institution as a Scientist after your Master’s degree or Ph.D. You may also get opportunities as a Research Fellow after your Master’s degree or as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow after your Ph.D.
- After your Ph.D., you may join an agricultural university or college.
You can find job opportunities at the following facilities:
- Companies manufacturing various equipment and machinery used in agriculture and food processing.
- Companies manufacture seeds, fertilizers, and various other products used in farming and food processing.
- Agricultural Research Organizations and institutes like the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, National Institute of Plant Research Genome, National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, etc.
- University departments and colleges such as GB Pant University of Agriculture.
As an agriculture engineer, you will be mostly involved in research and development work. Most of your research will be in the field, especially farms. You will have a regular 8-9 hours job that will require a peer to peer work. While working in the field is safe, you will need to wear proper accessories to prevent any damage while contacting pesticides. You will be working in a field that has immense pressure due to the type of work and potential results. Also, the chances of failure of work are higher, so you need to maintain your composure and avoid tiredness, lack of interest, etc.
Salary of an Agriculture Engineering
- As a Graduate Engineer Trainee, you will get about Rs. 30,000 – 50,000 a month. As an Assistant Engineer, you will earn about Rs. 40,000-65,000 or more per month. In Sales and Marketing too, you will get similar salaries plus incentives.
- As a Research Fellow, you will earn about Rs. 35,000 – 38,000 a month. As a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, you will earn about Rs. 40,000 – 50,000 a month.
- At the entry level, as a Scientist (grade C) you would be earning around Rs. 80,000 to 100,000 per month.
- As an assistant professor, you would be earning anything between Rs. 65,000 to 70,000 per month.
- At the junior level with a work experience of 2-6 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 70,000 to 1,40,000 per month.
- At the middle level with an experience of 10-12 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,40,000 to 1,90,000 per month as a scientist and Rs. 1,20,000 to 1,60,000 as a professor. As a sales/ marketing executive, you might earn anything between Rs. 50,000 to 1,50,000 per month.
- At the senior level of over 15 years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,60,000 to 2,00,000 per month as a professor and Rs. 2,10,000 to 2,50,000 per month as a Scientist. As a sales/ marketing executive, you might earn anything between Rs. 70,000 to 2,00,000 per month.
Career progression in Agriculture Engineering profession
- From a Graduate Engineer Trainee, you can get promotion into a position of an Assistant Engineer, then an Engineer, and finally as a Senior Engineer. You can then grow into a Principal Engineer or Plant Engineer or Project Engineer. You can grow into senior leadership roles as a General Manager/ Vice President/ Executive Engineer/ similar roles.
- In Sales and Marketing, you can start as a Sales Engineer and then become a Senior Sales Engineer, Area Sales Head, Regional Sales Head, and finally, National Sales Head. You may move into Marketing as a Marketing Manager and then grow into further leadership roles.
- Research laboratories will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade and the grade changes from low to high. In India, grades are “Scientist “C” as the joining level and then D, E, F, G, H, etc. A senior-level scientist can also get into administrative positions like Principal Scientist, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Director, etc.
- My career growth in university and college states from Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.
- If you are hired as a research associate (JRF and SRF), then you will go on to become a Doctoral Research Fellow, then Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then Scientist in Progressive Grades.
What does industry trends say – future prospects
Agriculture is still the primary source of livelihood for 58% of the Indian population. The share of Agriculture in GDP is around Rs. 17.67 trillion. With over 130 crore people depending on the food, agriculture is by far one of the most important industries in India. With limited scope in an increase in agricultural land, the reforms to improve the sector come through engineering, and technological reforms. Thus, the role of agriculture engineering has been acknowledged. Even Government has initiated Agri-Udaan as a way to promote agriculture start-ups. While the Government has seen the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, this can only be achieved by improving crop varieties, improving irrigation techniques, developing new machinery etc.
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