Engineering Applications

Learn how engineering can improve work efficiency and productivity in horticulture, agriculture or construction.

Course CodeBSC205
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn How to Make Work Easier

Machinery and equipment have changed the face of agriculture, horticulture and construction industries. With the right equipment, used for the right task; it is possible for one person to achieved the same as what many would have done in the past.

This course provides an excellent foundation for understanding how to apply innovative engineering solutions to improve efficiency and productivity in construction, agriculture and horticulture.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Surveying
    • Linear surveying
    • Triangulation
    • Determining slope
    • Triangulation
    • Contouring
    • Traversing
    • Levelling terms
    • Grid systems - datum line, reduced level, backsight, change point, etc.
    • Types of Level - dumpy, quickset, cowley
    • Reading the levelling staff
    • Levelling procedure
    • Levelling a sloping site
  2. Earthworks
    • Construction machinery and equipment
    • Bobcats
    • Front end loader
    • Tractor
    • Backhoe
    • Bulldozer
    • Explosives
    • Shovel, Pick
    • Cut and fill method
    • Excavation
    • Contouring and levelling
    • Swales
    • Types of Cultivator - Chisel ploughs, discs and harrows, tined cultivators, rotary hoes, etc.
    • Calculating earth to move
    • Prismordial rule
    • Moving existing earth
    • Importing soil
    • Shaping and settling soil
    • Case Study - Constructing a playing field
    • Managing Soil degradation -erosion, compaction, salinity, etc
  3. Water management
    • Irrigation systems
    • Sub-surface
    • Surface
    • Sprinkler
    • Trickle irrigation
    • Irrigation equipment
    • Watering cans
    • Sprinklers
    • Capillary watering
    • Automated systems
    • Water - sources, quality, treatment
    • Pumps - piston, centrifugal, rotary
    • Filters
    • Irrigation scheduling
    • Pulse watering
  4. Environmental control
    • Atmosphere control
    • Carbon dioxide effects
    • Greenhouse considerations
    • Covering materials
    • Temperature control
    • Benching
    • Shadehouses
    • Outdoor heating
  5. Chemical Applications
    • Applying pesticides
    • Parts of a basic sprayer
    • Calibration
    • Calibrating a knapsack sprayer
    • Mixing chemicals
    • Sprayer maintenance
    • Safe chemical use
    • Chemical labelling
    • Material Safety Data Sheet
    • Safe chemical storage
    • Environmental contamination
    • Protecting outdoor structures from chemical contamination
    • Paints, Stains and Sealers
    • Painting outdoor furniture and structures
  6. Fencing
    • Fencing materials - wire mesh, barbed wire, wire strand, posts, strainer assemblies etc
    • Traditional wire fencing
    • Semi-suspension fencing
    • Suspension fencing
    • Electric fencing
    • Bpx end assembly
    • Post and stay assembly
    • Barriers and walls
    • Types of timber fence -panels, slats, pickets, hurdles
    • Fencing houses and pools
    • Gateways and gates
    • Rock and rubble walls
    • Brick walls
    • Concrete walls
    • Free standing walls
    • Retaining walls
    • Trellises
    • Wood engineering - softwoods, hardwoods
    • Preservatives
    • Hedges
  7. Mechanisation
    • Vehicles
    • Tractors
    • The clutch
    • The transmission
    • Harvesters
    • Mowers - rotary, cylinder, flail, ride on
    • Hedge trimmers - shears, blade, saw, flail.
    • Trimmer maintenance
    • Chain saw use
    • Chain saw characteristics - petrol, electric, bar size, etc
    • Chain saw maintenance; extending chain life
    • Safety with chain saws
    • Mulching machines
    • Cultivators
    • Milking machines
    • Soil mixing machines
    • Potting machines
    • Planters, seeders, drills
    • Harvesters - potato, carrot
    • Grading machines
  8. Engineering efficiency
    • Overview
    • Costs
    • Quality of product
    • Replacement parts and servicing
  9. Developing engineering solutions
    • Introduction
    • Handling equipment
    • Trays boxes, pellets
    • Trolleys and barrows
    • Trailers
    • Fork lifts
    • Tractor loaders
    • Continuous conveying systems - conveyor belts, mono rails, etc
    • Hoppers
    • Staff comfort and safety

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

More Efficient Engines can make a Difference

The Efficiency of an engine is measured by either the Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE) or the Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC).

Brake Thermal Efficiency takes into account thermal and mechanical losses. It is:
BTE =   brake power (bp)                       
            energy value of fuel used in one second

The energy value for petrol and diesel fuels is around 46 MJ/kg

Specific Fuel Consumption is a measure of how much fuel is used to make the power:
SFC = fuel used in kg per hour
           brake power in kW

NB. Both terms are not in standard SI units.

The relationship between SFC and BTE is:
 SFC =     3.6      kg/Kw. h
             Q x BTE

Where Q is the energy value of the fuel in MJ/kg

Generally speaking, maximum power is usually obtained at a higher speed, with a slight loss to efficiency.

The mechanical efficiency of an engine is its ability to change a fuel into useable power. Whenever the heat or energy of a fuel is converted or changed to another, a large percentage is usually lost. Of each 4 litres of fuel used in a carburettor type engine 3 litres are lost. This gives the engine an efficiency of around only 25%. Diesel engines normally have a higher efficiency, but are still only around 30-35% efficient.

Drawbar power and power take off (PTO) power are common measures of a tractor’s work ability. Drawbar power is about 15% less than PTO power due to losses in the transmission, differential and drive wheels (e.g. friction losses).

How does an engine lose power?

An engine loses power through the exhaust system, the cooling system, through engine friction, and via transmission and traction losses. For an average tractor when heat energy lost in the exhaust system (around 30%) is added to heat lost in the cooling system (around 40%), and that lost through engine friction (around 6%) this represents a total loss of around 76% of the initial fuel. For tractors, of the remaining 24% available for useful work, another 4-5% is lost between the PTO shaft and the tractor drawbar.

Moving can be Costly

One major time consuming task in any workplace can be moving things about.

  • On a farm, produce needs to be collected and moved to packing, treatment or storage areas; and eventually to despach areas.
  • In factories, materials need to be moved along production lines and eventually to storage and finally dispatch.

There different ways of automating how things are moved, for example:

Conveyor Belts can be used either horizontally or on a slight slope. Roller Conveyor Platforms (involve a number of rollers mounted side by side). Elevator Belts can be used to raise materials vertically. Elevator belts are commonly driven by link chain.
Pneumatic Systems (involving a continuous low of air through pipes)
Pumps: for moving liquids
Fork lifts, for moving pallets of goods

Conveyor Belts

Most conveyor belts are made of layers of strong fabric embedded in a rubber mat. The rubber can be natural or synthetic – either way it must be strong to be durable. Conveyor drives commonly work by transferring power from metal rollers to a belt by frictional force. For this to work the belt must be tight enough to maximize power transfer. Belts commonly move at speeds between 0.5 and 2 metres per second (this can be achieved by a 20cm diameter roller running between 45 and 200 rpm (revolutions or rotations per minute). To achieve such rotations usually requires a gearing mechanism to heavily reduce the rotations on a running engine. Conveyor belts commonly run over the top of a deck that supports the belt (commonly stainless steel which provides a slippery surface for the belt to move on).  


Pumps are used for moving liquids. A pump and piped system is typically used for moving milk in a dairy. Pumped systems may also be used in wineries or juice factories.


These can be either powered or not powered. They involve:

  • a track (usually supported pipe) going between work stations in a building
  • a carrying platform or container attached to an arm that is attached to rollers which sit on the track

Materials can be loaded onto the platform or container, and then moved with relative ease between work stations.   

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Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has w
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort
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