ARC-INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING (ARC-IAE) ________________________________________________________________________________________
Hardly any agricultural activity is undertaken without equipment, systems or facilities supported by engineering technology. The ARC-Institute for Agricultural Engineering is involved in research, development and implementation of engineering technology, including the evaluation and testing of equipment and systems specifically for southern African conditions, as well as the transfer of this technology.
The Institute originated in 1961 as the Division for Agricultural Engineering within the Department of Agriculture and was originally responsible for the testing of mechanisation implements. These activities extended to include the testing of nearly all equipment used in agriculture, including irrigation equipment and eventually also included research and development of equipment, methodologies, processes and standards within all the facets of agricultural engineering. During the early 1980s it pioneered the development of sunflower oil as an alternative for diesel fuel.
The Organisation grew to the Chief Directorate: Agricultural Engineering and Water Supply within the Department of Agriculture. It was responsible for research and technical services to the agricultural sector, including soil conservation, drilling services, agricultural mechanisation, farm buildings, animal housing and handling facilities, grain silos and irrigation.
The compilation of feasibility studies, the planning, design and the approval of loans and subsidies for irrigation works became a major activity. More than R400 million in subsidies and loans were approved for irrigation works.
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.
|THE ROLE OF ARC-IAE
||FIELDS OF EXPERTISE|
The core purpose of the Institute 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.
The Institute has the following programmes to support the fields of agricultural engineering:
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.
|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 Information Resource Centre is the most comprehensive in South Africa on Agricultural Engineering aspects. 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.