March 4, 2023 | by Sarah Hill

Agricultural and Biological Engineers Shape the Future

When you think of agricultural and biological engineering, what comes to mind? If you're thinking farming and genetics, that's just a sliver of what the profession does.

The impact of the agricultural and biological engineering profession is also much more widespread than most people think. On World Engineering Day, we celebrate the many aspects of the agricultural and biological engineering industry that make our profession dynamic, interesting and scientifically innovative.

For example, the latest class of AE50 Award winners includes technology in the forestry industry; infrastructure monitoring technology for livestock facilities; software platforms for the greenhouse sector; a suite of tools for agronomists, including a fully automated soil laboratory; and so much more. This handful of top products goes to show how broad the agricultural and biological engineering profession extends—innovating how our society produces food, fiber, fuel, and by-products from agricultural products.

ASABE’s circular bioeconomy systems initiative is yet another example of how far-reaching the profession truly is. By implementing circularity into those systems that produce food, fiber, fuel and by-products, it takes a concerted effort from all aspects of production—from the initial research and development to produce seeds and the farmers who grow it to agricultural cooperatives that handle commodities and all the way to efficient food distribution. The processes behind producing food, fiber, fuel and by-products require so many steps from crop to commodity to final product that it covers the gamut of systems—all of which need engineering for success.

The entries from VisualChallenge12 showcase the diversity of the agricultural and biological engineering profession. The images reveal details of engineering endeavors. For example, a photo of cattle is more than meets the eye—these cows are outfitted with collars that establish virtual fences, eliminating the need for expensive and troublesome fencing for cattle producers. A photo of a modern cotton gin displays just how much technology is required today for a simple process like ginning cotton. A colorful image of gerbera daisies spotlights the carefully engineered, controlled greenhouse environment that enables these beautiful flowers to be grown.

The wide range of technologies and niches in the agricultural and biological engineering reflect the diversity and varied interests of the scientists and professionals who work hard every day to improve our world through engineering.