Engineering Applications

Course CodeBSC205
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Use Engineering to Solve Problems in Horticulture and Agriculture

  • Lay a foundation for solving land management problems
  • This course complements Engineering I, but is a stand alone course -you can do it by itself

Developing skills to apply appropriate and innovative engineering solutions, to improve efficiency and productivity in agriculture and horticulture. It covers: surveying, earthworks, water management, environmental control (eg. heating, cooling, ventilation, etc.), fencing, chemical applications, mechanising manual tasks, improving engineering efficiency/operations and developing engineering solutions to different workplace tasks/problems.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Surveying
    • Linear surveying
    • Triangulation
    • Determining slope
    • Triangulation
    • Contouring
    • Traversing
    • Levelling terms
    • Grid systems -datum line, reduced level, backsight, change point, etc.
    • Types of Level -dumpy, quickset, cowley
    • Reading the levelling staff
    • Levelling procedure
    • Levelling a sloping site
  2. Earthworks
    • Construction machinery and equipment
    • Bobcats
    • Front end loader
    • Tractor
    • Backhoe
    • Bulldozer
    • Explosives
    • Shovel, Pick
    • Cut and fill method
    • Excavation
    • Contouring and levelling
    • Swales
    • Types of Cultivator -Chisel ploughs, discs and harrows, tined cultivators, rotary hoes, etc.
    • Calculating earth to move
    • Primordial rule
    • Moving existing earth
    • Importing soil
    • Shaping and settling soil
    • Case Study -Constructing a playing field
    • Managing Soil degradation -erosion, compaction, salinity, etc
  3. Water management
    • Irrigation systems
    • Sub-surface
    • Surface
    • Sprinkler
    • Trickle irrigation
    • Irrigation equipment
    • Watering cans
    • Sprinklers
    • Capillary watering
    • Automated systems
    • Water -sources, quality, treatment
    • Pumps -piston, centrifugal, rotary
    • Filters
    • Irrigation scheduling
    • Pulse watering
  4. Environmental control
    • Atmosphere control
    • Carbon dioxide effects
    • Greenhouse considerations
    • Covering materials
    • Temperature control
    • Benching
    • Shade houses
    • Outdoor heating
  5. Chemical Applications
    • Applying pesticides
    • Parts of a basic sprayer
    • Calibration
    • Calibrating a knapsack sprayer
    • Mixing chemicals
    • Sprayer maintenance
    • Safe chemical use
    • Chemical labelling
    • Material Safety Data Sheet
    • Safe chemical storage
    • Environmental contamination
    • Protecting outdoor structures from chemical contamination
    • Paints, Stains and Sealers
    • Painting outdoor furniture and structures
  6. Fencing
    • Fencing materials - wire mesh, barbed wire, wire strand, posts, strainer assemblies etc
    • Traditional wire fencing
    • Semi-suspension fencing
    • Suspension fencing
    • Electric fencing
    • Box end assembly
    • Post and stay assembly
    • Barriers and walls
    • Types of timber fence -panels, slats, pickets, hurdles
    • Fencing houses and pools
    • Gateways and gates
    • Rock and rubble walls
    • Brick walls
    • Concrete walls
    • Free standing walls
    • Retaining walls
    • Trellises
    • Wood engineering -softwoods, hardwoods
    • Preservatives
    • Hedges
  7. Mechanisation
    • Vehicles
    • Tractors
    • The clutch
    • The transmission
    • Harvesters
    • Mowers -rotary, cylinder, flail, ride on
    • Hedge trimmers - shears, blade, saw, flail.
    • Trimmer maintenance
    • Chain saw use
    • Chain saw characteristics - petrol, electric, bar size, etc
    • Chain saw maintenance; extending chain life
    • Safety with chain saws
    • Mulching machines
    • Cultivators
    • Milking machines
    • Soil mixing machines
    • Potting machines
    • Planters, seeders, drills
    • Harvesters -potato, carrot
    • Grading machines
  8. Engineering efficiency
    • Overview
    • Costs
    • Quality of product
    • Replacement parts and servicing
  9. Developing engineering solutions
    • Introduction
    • Handling equipment
    • Trays boxes, Pellets
    • Trolleys and barrows
    • Trailers
    • Fork lifts
    • Tractor loaders
    • Continuous conveying systems -conveyor belts, monorails, etc
    • Hoppers
    • Staff comfort and safety


  • Explain surveying, including basic principles and techniques, appropriate for horticulture and agriculture
  • Determine earthworks required for an agricultural or horticultural site
  • Determine appropriate water management for an horticultural/agricultural site.
  • Determine technological solutions for environmental control problems, in rural or horticultural situations.
  • Explain the operation of equipment commonly used to apply pesticides and other chemicals in both horticultural and agricultural workplaces.
  • Determine appropriate fencing to use for different purposes; including security and restricting the movement of animals, pests or traffic, in agricultural and horticultural situations.
  • Explain the operation of machinery commonly used to mechanise manual tasks
    • carried out in horticultural and agricultural workplaces.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of engineering applications in agricultural and horticultural workplaces.
  • Determine procedures for improving work tasks in agricultural and horticultural situations.

Finding Engineering Solutions

Generally, there will always be more than one possible engineering solution to any given problem. The kind of factors that will be important to the final decision will include things such as cost, durability, complexity, implementation time-scale, or changeover period. Obviously, if an idea is not practical it will be discarded, however sometimes an idea which isn't initially appropriate can be manipulated to fit the problem with a little thought. The main thread here is - don't dismiss something until you’re completely sure of its unsuitability.

An excellent example of an engineering solution to the problem of dairy farm efficiency is the rotating milking shed. Previously, all milking sheds had been designed where a number of cows either stood side by side meaning a good deal of leg work for the milker and a good amount of double handling or a line of cows, one behind another. This did not require the milker to travel the same distances but meant that all cows being milked at the same time were retained until every last cow had finished being milked before any could be released and new cows brought into the shed. It created a number of problems such as impatient cows and impatient workers. If a cow is not milked properly and thoroughly then diseases such as mastitis will occur.

The rotating shed might accommodate between 25 and 100 cows at the same time depending on its capacity. Cow A walks onto the milking floor, she is bailed in, has the cups applied and the entire floor moves around one space. Cow B then walks into her stall and the same procedure takes place. Should cow A finish giving milk she will be disengaged and allowed to move off to feed, if however she has not finished milking after completing a circuit, then she can remain on the milking machine and do another lap. No other cows are held up and the shed can be run by two people very effectively.

A plant nursery can be either of a retail or wholesale type. While they both are in the business of selling plants, the work processes involved vary accordingly. A wholesale nursery sells plants to a retail outlet which in turn sells to the general public. Therefore, as a general guide, the wholesale nursery is involved in propagation and nurturing techniques.

A typical work procedure that could be refined or honed to its utmost effectiveness might be the placing of cuttings into tubes (very small pots which are approx. 6cm X 3cm) or liners as they are sometimes called. This task requires a number of steps to complete. These steps should be detailed or noted. Are there tasks that could be handled at the same time as one another? Does the layout of the nursery slow down certain procedures? For example, are the primary greenhouses (where plants are initially kept after being potted) close or convenient to the potting shed? Are the tertiary houses near to the dispatch area? Little things like these which are only small percentage type problems can add up to rather large improvements.


A retail operation might place stock into more ornamental pots (i.e. re-potting). It might also if business is brisk look into refining the processing of sales, detail staff procedure when dealing with clients, or book work perhaps.

One of the reasons that engineering is viewed as an exciting career is the unlimited and undiscovered solutions that often exist to a single problem. As technology advances it can make previous solutions outdated or inefficient. Not all solutions need be of a high tech nature either but might merely require that a different perspective be placed upon the problem in order to find the most applicable solution. Lateral thinking processes require that a problem be tackled from all angles and that all possibilities are entertained. Nothing is too ridiculous to propose in the planning stage although if time and money is being heavily invested then a line should probably be drawn.
How to Calibrate A Sprayer
It is important to calibrate sprayers so that the correct dose of chemical is applied. The factors that affect the application rate are:
  • Spraying pressure
  • Size of the nozzle or nozzles
  • Travel speed of the applicator
  • Height of the nozzle above the target

Information about correct pressures and nozzles for different types of applications should be contained in the instruction manual that comes with the spray unit.

Calibrating a knapsack sprayer

To calibrate a knapsack sprayer you need to determine:

  • The walking speed of the operator
  • Spray pattern width
  • Nozzle output

Walking speed (km/hr) – calculated by dividing 360 by the time it takes in seconds for the operator to spray over a distance of 100 metres i.e. If the time required is 95 seconds the calculation is 360/95 = 3.79 km/h

Spray pattern width – check this by spraying on concrete or in an area where the pattern in noticeable, and take a measurement.

Nozzle output – calculate by spraying water into a measuring jug for one (1) minute.

For the purposes of this example assume the following:

  • Walking speed = 3.79 km/hour
  • Spray pattern width = 1.5 m
  • Nozzle output = 2 litres/min

Volume (litres/hectare) = 600 X nozzle output (litres/min)
Spray width (m) x speed (km/h)

Volume = 600 x 2 litres/min   = 211 litres/hectare
1.5 m x 3.79 km/h


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