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Agricultural Engineering


AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING is that specialized branch of engineering which deals with agriculture ; it seeks scien tifically to direct the forces and facts of nature to the advantage of the farmer.

The distinction between agricultural and the other branches of engineering may be illustrated by examples—irrigation and drain age, for instance. The agricultural engineer concedes to the civil engineer the problems incident to the extensive storage and arterial distribution of irrigation water, and to the design and construction of large community drainage outlets. The benefits of such works, however, are realized only to the extent that contact is made with individual farms. It is at this point that the agricultural engineer claims jurisdiction. In irrigation, the water made available to the farm must be economically distributed and applied with reference to the topography, the character of the soil and the crops to be irrigated. In drainage, ditches and underdrains must be planned with regard for the peculiarities of each field and of the use to be made of the land. Again, although the agricultural engineer does not ordinarily concern himself with the commercial design and the manufacture of farming implements, he does claim a share in securing not only the best use of such equipment as is at hand, but also better designed equipment.

Agricultural engineering is the outgrowth of a realization that many of the farmers' problems lie within the field of engineering and therefore should be attacked from that point of view. It is generally recognized that the marked advance in agriculture since 185o has been due in large measure to improved engineering prac tice.• Thus the development of farm-land from its primal state by clearing, the control of erosion by terraces, the disposal of surplus water and the acquiring and regulating of the water needed for plant growth and for human and animal consumption, the erection of structures of all types, with their problems of light, heat, venti lation, etc., and the best use and design for the machinery and implements used in farm operations and transportation, as well as the sources of the power which operates them, are all problems for the agricultural engineer. This is common sense, and in the United States this view is generally accepted. In England and Continental Europe, however, the scope of agricultural engineering is less defined, the tendency being rather to give practical recognition to two distinct divisions of the science, dealing respectively with the mechanical phases (implements, machinery and power) and those of the soil (irrigation, drainage, erosion control, etc.) .

In the United States in 1928 12 State agricultural colleges main tained courses leading to a degree in agricultural engineering, while several others, though they did not grant degrees, offered courses that constituted a virtual recognition of the science. Such German universities as are equipped to give instruction recognize agricul tural engineering by offering a doctor's degree. Up to the present time agricultural engineering has been looked upon chiefly as one of the many agencies through which, by research and dissemina tion of information, governmental and educational institutions are striving to improve the condition of the farmer. One does not, therefore, often meet with the practising or consulting agricultural engineer. (See also articles on LAND RECLAMATION ; ELECTRICAL

engineer, water, drainage, implements and design