Agricultural Engineering Department - Genesis
   
 
    Agricultural Engineering is a fast developing field of Engineering which applies the knowledge, techniques and disciplines of various fields of Engineering to find a solution to the problems arising in the field of Agriculture.
 
GENESIS OF AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING IN TAMIL NADU
 
 
    In Tamil Nadu, an Agricultural Engineering Wing emerged in the year 1946 under the “Grow More Food Programme”. Few Bulldozers obtained as army disposals of the Second World War, Tractors with matched implements and Oil Engines were provided to farmers on hire basis to help them to level their lands and carry out various farm operations, mainly in hill and foot hill areas. Under the Famine Relief, Soil Conservation works were taken up from 1949-50. In 1958, the pumping and boring well works were transferred to this wing from the Industries Department. Till 1960s, Land development and Minor Irrigation Machinery viz., Bulldozers, Tractors, Drill rigs and Rock Blasting Units were hired to the farmers for development of their lands and creation of irrigation sources in hilly and foot hill areas.
    Soil Conservation Schemes were launched in Kodaikanal, Ooty and Yercaud and bench terracing works were taken up predominantly. During 1965-1968, Soil Conservation measures with contour bunding works were implemented in plains with technological interventions by Er. Narayanasamy and
    Er. C.R. Shanmugam
    . The Water Management Programmes were initiated in 1967 in the Cauvery delta region, Chithamalli village near Mannargudi.
    During 1970s, Soil Conservation Scheme was implemented on 1000 Acre Watershed basis. Western Ghats Development Programme was launched on pilot basis during 1972 with the implementation of soil conservation measures in hilly regions with contour stone walls. Besides, the innovative programme called Wind Swept Programme was implemented in Thiruchendur and Bodinayakanur taluks to restore the lands degraded by heavy windfall.
 
 
FORMATION OF AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT
 
 
    “The Grow More Food Programme” the call for “Green Revolution” by introduction of high yielding wheat varieties like Kalyan Sona and high yielding, short duration and non lodging paddy varieties like IR8 & IR20 with application of inorganic fertilizers during 1960s resulted in increased agricultural production. A stage came, beyond which more sophisticated planning and special efforts were called for to sustain the agricultural production. It was then felt that providing necessary momentum to the Agricultural Engineering activities should help to increase the agricultural production. Hence, the Agricultural Engineering Wing in the Department of Agriculture was separated and the new “AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT” was formed as a separate Department on 21.1.81. It was then declared as a Non-Commercial Department from September 1981.
    During 1980s, the centrally sponsored programmes like Command Area Development Programme (in major river commands like Vaigai (WRCP-I), Cauvery, LBP,PAP, and SRP), River Valley Project (RVP), Hill Area Development Programme (HADP), Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP),Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP), and Micro Irrigation Scheme were launched and the Agricultural Engineering Department had various disciplines of activities from Farm Machinery and Soil Conservation to Watershed Management, Water Management and mobilization of farmers towards community participation in the programmes implemented. In 1985, Watershed Atlas was prepared with Remote Sensing Techniques and Remote Sensing Centre was formed in the office of the Chief Engineer (AE), Chennai-35.
    During 1990s, the soil and water conservation works were taken up by Agricultural Engineering Department on watershed approach with the delineation of major, sub, minor and micro watersheds with the implementation of WGDP, DPAP, IWDP and NWDPRA. The rural development and employment generation works were carried out through JVVT and EAS schemes with implementation of rain water harvesting structures, renovation of irrigation structures and temple tank renovation.
    The External Aided Programmes through DANIDA, the comprehensive watershed development programmes were implemented in Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi Districts with formation of shelter belts to control soil erosion from windfall.
    During 2000, the new schemes like Distribution of farm machinery to farmers under subsidy (Macro Management Mode), Reclamation of alkali and saline soils, Replacement of old and inefficient pump sets, Artificial recharge structures funded by CGWB, Soil conservation works under Rain Water harvesting and run off management programme, NABARD-RIDF Assisted watershed development works, Artificial recharge of ground water schemes were launched and they were implemented effectively and more benefits were reaped by farming community through increased farm productivity.
    During 2005, TN IAMWARM Project was launched in Tamil Nadu with convergence of the activities of eight departments with emphasis on “More Income per drop of water” and Agricultural Engineering Department playing a major role in implementation of Micro Irrigation, construction of farm ponds with fish culture, rain water harvesting structures, distribution of farm machinery to WUAs and IEC activities in selected sub-basin regions.
    During 2007, National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) was launched with the assistance of GOI and the activities like distribution of farm machinery with subsidy, training and demonstration on farm machinery and implements, training to rural youth on operation and maintenance of farm machinery, distribution of farm machinery to farmers’ group are now being implemented under NADP. Now, the farmers are more sensitized on usage of farm machinery and farm implements to tackle labour drudgery in farming activities.
    The Agricultural Engineering Department as a separate department and as a professional activity, it has passed through more than five decades. The Agricultural Engineering was further strengthened with the induction of more and more Agricultural Engineering graduates from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. In the whole of India, Tamil Nadu is the forerunner in creating a full-fledged department for Agricultural Engineering which provides the required services to the farmers under one umbrella. Other states, in India are trying the Tamil Nadu model.