Bioresources Engineering as a Career

UKZN is the only university in South Africa to offer a degree in Agricultural (Bioresources) Engineering which is fully accredited by the Engineering Council of SA. The Discipline of Bioresources Engineering brings together teaching and research, and as a result it is able to offer an exceptionally wide range of exciting and innovative multi-disciplinary courses that will broaden perspectives, foster a capacity for independent critical thinking, and provide intellectual tools for developing your mind, while at the same time enhancing your career opportunities in the local and global marketplace.

The Discipline enjoys an international reputation for teaching and research. We have been imparting the skills of the Bioresources engineer for many years, and our graduates, who readily find jobs in all sectors of the economy, are our advertisement. Both here in South Africa and abroad, they find top management and development positions – making significant contributions to the interactions between man, machine and the environment.

The aim of the Discipline is to continue to produce environmentally-conscious graduates, equipped with the necessary management and development skills to enable them to process our valuable resources in an efficient and effective manner.

Below are some of the areas that Bioresources Engineers are involved in:

BioEng Sphere Of Influence

Life on earth needs a sustainable supply of food, water and energy in order to feed and sustain a growing population under a variable and changing climate.

Bioresources Engineers utilise technology to connect the living world of plants, soil, water and animals with the technology of engineering (systems, structures and machines).

Bioresources Engineers design, construct and manage technology for food, fiber and energy productions systems:

  • Design and manage machinery for field operations e.g. for soil preparation, planting, harvesting, storage and transport of produce;
  • Use precision agriculture technologies (e.g. GIS, GPS) to ensure optimal and sustainable agricultural production systems with minimal impact on the environment;
  • Design and operate transportation systems to move produce to storage facilities, factories and consumers.

Bioresources Engineers Water Plants Efficiently:

  • Design and manage irrigation systems in order to obtain the highest yield per unit of water applied, which is essential in South Africa where the demand for water exceeds supply in more than 50% of the country and where irrigation uses more than 60% of the stored water in the country;
  • Design drainage systems for optimal crop production.

Bioresources Engineers Design and Manage Agricultural and Rural Water Resource Systems:

  • Design dams, canals and pipe networks for water supply to agriculture and humans;
  • Assess the availability of water resources in order to meet demands for water in a highly variable climate and with a changing climate as a consequence of global warming;
  • Manage water resources by reconciling demands for water with the available supplies;
  • Design soil and water conservation systems to control runoff and thus minimise erosion and maximise agricultural production;
  • Sustain the environment by minimising pollution.


Bioresource Engineers Add Value to Raw Products:

  • Add value to products by the design and operation of food processing and storage systems;
  • Use technology to preserve and process food and animal feed;
  • Ensure products are safe for human consumption.

Bioresources Engineers Use Technology to Optimise Food Production:

  • Design intensive animal and plant production structures which have controlled environments for optimal production;
  • Design control systems to maintain optimal production conditions for plant (e.g. greenhouses) and animal (e.g. broiler units) for optimal production.

Bioresources Engineers Utilise Sustainable Sources of Energy:

  • Developing technology to grow and utilise sustainable sources of energy (e.g. biofuels, solar, wind);
  • Process agricultural products into biofuels;
  • Test the performance and long term impacts of biofuels on engines.