Agricultural Engineer

Agriculture and related industries are key contributors to the South African economy. Agricultural engineering involves exploring opportunities and challenges related to agricultural production, processing and distribution with the goal of ensuring profitable and sustainable agriculture and related practices.

Agricultural engineers research, design and develop agricultural equipment and machinery, as well as systems and procedures for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural products. Some might focus on adapting farming practices such as ploughing and harvesting techniques to enhance soil quality, developing run-off systems to better manage water use or implementing renewable energy technologies. They also research and develop plans and specifications for the construction and modification of agricultural infrastructure.

As part of multi-disciplinary teams, agricultural engineers engage with varied professionals, exploring innovative strategies and opportunities to deal with challenges. They typically work in offices and laboratories and sometimes on-site to assess the needs of farming and related operations.


Agricultural engineers must have a comprehensive knowledge and ability to apply scientific and mathematical principles and be able to use popular engineering and design software to design equipment, machinery and processes. They will also benefit from:

  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Analytical and logical reasoning skills
  • Project management
  • Written and verbal communication and presentation skills


Design and manage agricultural equipment, machinery and processes

Oversee and manage construction and production operations

Modify environmental factors that affect agricultural production

Research technical problems and develop new methods and techniques


B.Sc.Agric. in Agricultural and Rural Engineering at Univen

B.Sc.Eng. in Bio-resources Engineering at UKZN

B.Sc.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at UCT, UKZN and Wits

B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at NWU, SU, UJ and UP


National, provincial and local government.

Financial and banking institutions.

NGOs, community-based and development organisations and private consultancies.

Research institutions.

Agricultural equipment manufacturers.

Various organisations along the agriculture value chain.

Related career paths