Background

The Taiwan Agricultural Engineers Society (TAES) was founded in Tainan City on December 11, 1954. Originally known as the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering, it was renamed by majority votes in the 2007 Annual General Meeting by request of the previous chairman in the effort to avoid confusion with the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering in China. Having been established for 54 years, the TAES consists of the board of directors, board of supervisors, secretariat and eight committees, including the Committee of Financial Affairs, Committee of Research Paper Review, Committee of Academic Editing, Committee of Academic Discussion, Committee of Academic and Business Review for Agricultural Engineering Rewards, Committee of Election, Committee of Technical Service and Committee of International Exchange. The secretariat consists of the members division, general affairs division and academic division. The TAES has over 3,500 members mostly working in agricultural engineering related lab and field work in various water utility institutions, schools, laboratories, and farmland irrigation associations and engineering consultancies, contributing greatly to Taiwan’s economic construction.

Organizational members include 17 irrigation associations, irrigation-related foundations, Water Resources Agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and its affiliates nationwide. The TAES is the representative society of agricultural irrigation and engineering, actively involved in many related activities and academic research, and has published the Chinese Agricultural Engineering Handbook and up to 54 quarterly issues of the Journal of Agricultural Engineering. In addition to the presentation of research papers, the TAES often exchanges publications with academic groups in Taiwan and overseas, and attend international academic conferences.

Annual general meeting and agricultural engineering seminars are held each year with up to 500~600 members participating. Papers published at the agricultural engineering seminars are divided into 14 areas, including “diversity of bio-environment and eco-system”, “ecology and green planting of farmland”, “hydrology and underground water”, “irrigation and drainage”, “remote testing and geographical information system”, “agricultural engineering automation”, “diversified management and outlook for farmland irrigation associations”, “rivers and water catchment areas”, “policies, laws and regulations, and management”, “agricultural engineering field work”, “bio-environment engineering”, “farmland irrigation businesses’ measures in response to Taiwan joining the WTO”, “water resource allocation and management between targets”, “other research papers relating to agricultural engineering”. The sub-topics are simultaneously presented and discussed in five different teams/venues. Research results are evaluated year by year and important ones are further analyzed through joint discussions amongst Taiwan academicians and experts, thus improving farmland technology and its applications. Over 120 academic papers are published each year and compiled in the Symposium on Agricultural Engineering.

Prospect for agricultural engineering
Like the rest of the world, Taiwan faces the challenge of sustainable development. The thought and determination that “human can triumph over nature” must be reflected upon and rectified. Henceforth, agricultural engineering should take into consideration harmonious symbiosis with the natural environment; and technological development must be based on sustainable development, responding to the worldwide trend and Taiwan’s requirements. The conservation of agricultural water resources, water quality and eco-system should be promoted in concert with the programs and specific actions related to water resources in Agenda 21, which was adopted in the Earth Summit.

 
The agricultural engineering sector should actively explore technology for effective utilization of water/soil resources and limits allowing for sustainable utilization of the natural environment specific to the conditions of Taiwan’s natural environment. It should then establish a set of technical guidelines and standards for agricultural engineering planning, design, implementation and management that is permissible given the conditions of Taiwan’s natural environment. Being a field science, agricultural engineering should expand its scope of service from primarily crops to include all of living things and their environment, and even going further to explore the interrelationship between living things and the environment. As many of these issues are new territory and even on an international level, efforts are just being made, increased participation in international technical exchanges and taking in technical experience of advanced countries will help accelerate establishment of technology in this area.

Prospect for agricultural engineering

Resolution passed at annual general meeting 2003

The development of agricultural engineering should be based on government policies, and laws and regulations. An action plan that is farsighted in terms of concept and direction, and amalgamating opinions of academic, business and government sectors, should be made by consensual agreement, respecting past experience, and following principles of the “dynamics of soil-water cycle” and “soil and water knowledge”.

In terms of development, agricultural engineering has become more diversified and multi-functional. The aim of agricultural engineering has expanded from “ensuring stability of food supply” to include “optimizing the public welfare function of the agricultural industry and rural villages”. Implementation strategy has also expanded from “improvement of basic agricultural production equipment” to include consideration of “homeland security, water resource conservation, natural environment maintenance, landscape beautifying and legacy of excellent local culture.” Furthermore, in concert with the advancement of programs and action plans related to water resources in Agenda 21 as agreed at the Earth Summit, the protection of agricultural water resources, water quality and eco-system should be implemented, and all agricultural engineering works and technological development should be based on sustainable development, allowing for harmonious symbiosis with the natural environment.

In light of boosting Taiwan’s agricultural engineering technology, the TAES’s mission has expanded from “seeking progress and widespread application of agricultural engineering research so as to contribute to academic development” to “seeking progress and widespread application of knowledge and technology so as to contribute to social development”. In other words, technology for effective utilization of water/soil resources and limits allowing for sustainable utilization of the natural environment specific to the conditions of Taiwan’s natural environment should be explored, and a set of technical guidelines and standards for agricultural engineering planning, design, implementation and management that is permissible given the conditions of Taiwan’s natural environment should be established. At the same time, attention should be paid to achievements made in various types of engineering equipment and technology, and requirements in agricultural development, pursuing the feasibility of applying modernized engineering equipment and technology in agricultural development.

Agricultural engineering should expand the scope of its service from “agriculture” to include “living things and the environment”, and its development should complement agricultural production, ecology and everyday living. Thus, agricultural engineering technology is not limited to farmland irrigation and agricultural machinery, it may be expanded to include farmland irrigation and drainage, farmland readjustment, development and utilization of marginal land, construction and improvement of farm roads, farm housing construction/planning, farm infrastructure building, improvement of rural living environment, treatment of agricultural wastes, prevention of agricultural water pollution, agricultural automation, facility construction, improvement in transportation of agricultural products, handling of agricultural produce, mechanization and automation of irrigation facility, pasture fencing, animal housing, husbandry water supply facility, fishery water supply/drainage facility, mudslide/flood prevention and water/soil conservation. Agricultural engineering policy should be guided by “life”, “cycle” and “symbiosis”, creating a business that meets the future outlook of the agricultural sector and farms. As a strategic substance today, water is a necessary resource that ensures safe food production because agricultural water use accounts for 70% of total usage worldwide and in Taiwan. To ensure sustainable utilization of soil and water resources, effective management is required to prevent excessive use and contamination. At the same time, protection of the ecological environment should be taken into account when constructing irrigation facilities. Up to 50% of cultivated land in Taiwan does not yet have irrigation facility and water source. To stabilize agricultural production, it is necessary to counsel them to establish facility for water saving and drought condition.