Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering

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Food security is the most vital necessity for the survival of humanity. In this respect, agriculture is one of the most sublime and fundamental human activities, playing an integral part in the process of food production. It is believed that agriculture (cultivating plants and livestock) dates back roughly 10,000 years. The “discovery” of agriculture (i.e., a new method of procuring food whose carrying capacity was much higher than that of conventional ways of hunting and gathering) led humankind on to a path of rapid evolution. From that point onward, humans have utilized wisdom and innovation to advance and sustain the art of agriculture while meeting the needs of our times. At the same time, progress in engineering and technology that form the foundations of agricultural production has been instrumental in enhancing the productivity of land and agriculture workers. This is evidenced by the fact that the Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University had an engineering department (the Department of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering, later reorganized into an engineering department, the Department of Agriculture Engineering, to specialize in agriculture studies) since its inception in 1923 to conduct pioneering education and research on engineering/technical strategies and methodologies that maximize agricultural productivity. Towards the end of the last century, the emergence of global issues that could threaten the survival of humankind promoted a paradigm shift, and it also became necessary in the engineering field to redesign our basic research approaches to and perspective on the world under the more comprehensive and contemporary framework of “the environment.” Baced on this background, the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering came to be in 2001.

This Department is devoted to research and education on the use of engineering and technology in “agricultural and farming regions;” namely, rural regions in which people engage in agricultural production activities for a living.  Recent years have seen a growing recognition that rural regions have much more distinguishing precious features, compared to urban regions. This renewed recognition is chiefly attributable to the multifunctionality of agriculture, which serves the preservation of national land, the natural environment and ecosystems, on top of its inherent function of food production. Now, for rural regions to develop in a sustainable manner, it is necessary to properly develop and preserve water and soil (land), two key elements of environmental infrastructure in such regions, the production environment, such as production control systems and systems for harvesting, processing, and storing farm products, and the living environment in theregions. At the same time, harmony with the natural environment must be achieved. It is also important to utilize wisely potential resources unique to the rural regions, such as the development of biomass energy. The concept of “achieving harmony with the natural environment” means to stop to think how humankind should produce food and develop energy, both of which are necessary for human survival, while working in harmony with biosystems, ecosystems, and landscapes by respecting their inherent right. “All regions are cells of planet Earth,” and maintaining a sound regional environment is vital for the conservation of the global environment. To make this ideal state of rural regions a reality, it is crucial to pursue engineering and technology studies in the realm of applied science based on the solid foundations of interdisciplinary fundamental sciences, with fields ranging from natural science to social science. Studies of agricultural and environmental engineering take scientific approaches to rural regions within such a paradigm. As a body of engineering and technological knowledge, these systematic studies are expected to play a significant role in solving the problems that threaten the survival of humankind, including those concerning agriculture and farming villages, the environment, and food and energy.

Education at the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering is given mainly in seven research fields, which are divided into four fields of the “Rural Environmental Engineering” and three of the “Bioproduction Engineering.” The first- and second-year students gain a basic overview of agricultural and environmental engineering, while third-year students mainly take subjects  from a family to which the field that they plan to be affiliated with in their fourth year belongs.

In the fields of the “Rural Environmental Engineering” which consists of 4 fields (Agricultural Facilities Engineering, Water Resources Engineering, Hydrological Environment Engineering, and Rural Planning), students learn about theories for creating rich and beautiful regional environments that encompass production, living, and natural spaces. They also go on to learn how to improve and conserve such regional environments with engineering techniques that work on water, soil, and the environment, as well as study the technological approaches needed to achieve this. Students also learn how to utilize water and land in a regional setting with the conservation of national land and the environment in mind, along with how to plan, design, construct, and maintain various structures that give a concrete shape to their learning outcomes.

In the fields of the “Bioproduction Engineering” which consists of 3 fields (Agricultural Systems Engineering, Field Robotics, and Bio-Sensing Engineering), students learn how they should go about controlling production, harvesting, processing, and storing food, and developing biomass energy. They do so while considering not only the local natural environment but also the global environment, resource circulation, labor-saving, and energy-saving, as well as learning their underlying principles. Students are also expected to learn the skills and methodologies needed to realize all of the above. To this end, students study relevant bioresources, information processing, systems design, measurement and sensing technologies for organisms, machine design, robotics, physical properties of farm products and their non-destructive quality evaluation, and processing technology.

Keywords for Each Field of Affiliation

Field Keywords
Rural Environmental Engineering
Agricultural Facilities Engineering Storage dams, underground dams, water facility design theory, analysis of water-use structure inverse problems, constitutive equation and structures of soil, geotomography of foundation ground, seismic design of structures
Water Resources Engineering Optimal management of water resources and hydro-environments, hydro-environment modeling, dynamics of farm irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting, multiple functions of reservoirs and paddy fields for agriculture
Hydrological Environment Engineering Irrigation and drainage, soil physics, hydrology, hydrochemistry, regional water and geochemical cycle management, groundwater management, water and soil quality conservation, agricultural water management for climate change adaptation and mitigation
Rural Planning Rural sustainability, community development planning, rural revitalization, landscape planning, participatory planning tools, resource management, resilience building, social capital, knowledge management, system modeling, multi-agent simulation, virtual reality, information communication technology and drama theory
Bioproduction Engineering
Agricultural Systems Engineering Biomass energy, optimization of food production, system analysis, LCA for environmental management, resource recycling, methane fermentation, sensing and data analysis for soil, plant, and environment, data science
Field Robotics Robot farming, intelligent farm machinery, precision agriculture, remote sensing, monitoring of plant growth, GPS/GIS, artificial intelligence (AI) for agricultural machinery, hamful animal repelling system by AI
Bio-Sensing Engineering Physical properties of agricultural and aquacultural products and foods and their non-destructive quality evaluation, near-infrared spectroscopic imaging, prediction of peak ripeness, freshness determination, detection of rice bran traces, identification of individual farm animals by biometric authentication techniques, traceability, food manufacturing process monitoring technology