Research Programmes


and handing facilities)











The Role of Agricultural Engineering

The core purpose of this division is to develop and apply agricultural engineering technology that will contribute to higher yields, higher income and lower input costs for agriculture and related industries in a sustainable way. The objectives are thus:

  • To create wealth and to eliminate poverty in agriculture by increasing profits through the reduction of input costs, increased production, improved product quality, and value adding.

  • To develop and apply engineering technology for the sustainable utilisation and development of resources used in agriculture.

  • To promote and increase the efficient and sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

  • To protect, reclaim and restore deteriorated natural resources.

  • To develop human resources in the field of agricultural engineering technology.


Efficient water management

For the development, testing and evaluation of irrigation equipment in world-class laboratories, in-field evaluations of irrigation systems, improvement of existing designs, practices and established irrigation methods as well as the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes.  

Natural resource conservation

Research and the development of technology related to soil conservation structures, techniques and systems, environmental auditing and mine rehabilitation, design and rehabilitation of dams and subsurface drainage, water run-off control planning and soil conservation structures. 

Agricultural mechanization

For the testing of tractor engine performance, research and development of implements, development of mechanization systems, mechanization planning regarding the use of suitable equipment, systems and techniques.  

Farm structures and facilities

Involving the designing, testing and development of farm structures, stores, workshops, labour housing and appropriate animal housing/ handling facilities, climate controlled plant production structures as well as facilities for aquaculture development.  

On farm processing

Involving the development and evaluation of new methods and equipment as well as engineering design and advice on aspects such as produce storage, cooling, drying and handling facilities.

A variety of publications and manuals are available to assist on decision making for on-farm practices. For more information contact Elmarie Stolz.

The word "Engineer' originates from the Latin word "Ingenium" which means "a good idea". Other words like "genius" and "ingenuity" originates from this word. A good idea together with science makes an Engineer.

History of Agricultural Engineering

In October 1995, the research component of the Chief Directorate was transferred to the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and became the ARC-Institute for Agricultural Engineering [ARC-IAE] with the aim to promote agricultural engineering technology in support of the agricultural sector as well as to provide technical support to the National and Provincial Departments of Agriculture [Read more...]

Engineering Focus

Focus is placed on all needs of our modern day farmers in South Africa due to the need for poverty alleviation and the role agriculture can play in this regard. Emphasis is also placed on the needs of small-scale farmers.

The development of small-scale farmer projects are thus addressed within the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods projects. In these projects all the necessary disciplines are integrated in specific projects to enhance meaningful and sustainable development. An important aspect of this programme is human capacity building.


The Institute comprises a substantial capacity in terms of laboratories, instruments, support workshops, library and computer infrastructure to be able to undertake a wide range of agricultural engineering projects. The Institute is regarded as the guardian of the science of Agricultural Engineering in South Africa. The tractor and engine testing facility complies with other world class facilities and is the only facility in the world which is not on sea level but at an altitude of 1350 m, resembling the same conditions at which most of the South African tractors function. The irrigation test laboratory consists of facilities to evaluate and test sprinklers, micro-sprayers, drippers, filters, valves, flow meters and fittings. These facilities are in many instances unique and can be regarded as the best in the world. A field evaluation unit further supports these laboratory facilities for localized tests.

Postal Address​

General Enquiries​Physical Address​
Agricultural Engineering
Private Bag X519
Tel: +27 (0)12 842 4017
Fax: +27 (0)12 804 0753
141 Cresswell Road