BY JAKE MAYER
If you asked most people (including those in agriculture) to make a list of professionals or businesses that help farms and ranchers, the answers would likely include: Veterinarian, Agronomist, Chemical and Fertilizer Salesmen, Farm Equipment Dealers, Nutritionist, Pharmaceutical Salesmen, Insurance Agent, Truck Drivers, NRCS Conservationist, and Extension Educators. We all know that it takes numerous agri-businesses to support the day-to-day activities of production agriculture, but there is one group that often gets left off the list – ENGINEERS.
I’ll admit that as an engineer I am a little bit biased, but the role of engineering in farming and ranching is undeniable. Irrigation engineers design the pumps, pipe, and pivots that help farms provide the right amount of water at just the right time for growing crops and forages. Structural engineers design agricultural buildings and grain storage facilities. Equipment engineers design the machines that help us do our jobs efficiently and effectively. Environmental engineers design grass waterways and terraces to control erosion. You get the point.
I think that the primary reason that engineers are overlooked due to the common perception that engineers all wear thick glasses, have a pocket protector, and don’t have a lick of common sense. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Simply put, engineers are problem solvers. They use their knowledge to design and build solutions to people’s problems. That is what drew me to a career in Agricultural Engineering
I want to share a piece of my story because I know there are lots of young people who are interested in how things work, helping people, and staying involved in agriculture.
I work for Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc.), an environmental engineering and consulting firm in Eastern Nebraska. We help livestock producers (mostly beef cattle feedlots, but we’ve done numerous swine and dairy projects) permit their operations according to state and federal laws and keep them in compliance with current regulations. We offer services like nutrient management planning, groundwater monitoring, soil sampling, and record keeping. My job allows me the opportunity to design livestock systems that are production focused, flexible, and environmentally conscious. Our clients include familiar faces such as current NCBA President J.D. Alexander, NCBA Federation Division Chairman Craig Uden (Craig’s daughter Blair used to work in our office), and blogger Anne Burkholder.
Dispelling myths about raising beef seems to be a popular goal for cattlemen and women these days. Perhaps reading my thoughts today will give you a better understanding on a group of men and women who have a vital role in modern cattle production – ENGINEERS.
Happy Trails & God Bless,