With the advent of technology, engineers have had to turn to software to ease up operations. Following is a review of some of the software used by Agricultural Engineers in Kenya
1. CropWat and ClimWat
CropWat developed by FAO is one of the most commonly used agricultural engineering software. It is mainly deployed during irrigation design, where it is used to, among others, compute the effective rainfall, crop water requirements, and irrigation scheduling. Usually, the software is used alongside ClimWat, another software by FAO. ClimWat contains a weather database that is fed into the ClimWat software to extract vital weather data such as rainfall and temperature, which are used when computing the effective rainfall during irrigation design. Both ClimWat and CropWat are freely downloadable on the FAO website
2. CAD software
AutoCAD software are another set of commonly used tools by engineers. Agricultural engineers in Kenya mostly use AutoCAD and Civil 3D. The former is used during the design of farm power and machinery technologies, both large and small scale; while the latter is used in designing farm structures. In most cases, the software are used to generate technical drawings that contractors rely on when implementing the project. For example, during the design of small dams, Civil 3D is used to generate intake, spill way and embankment drawings that are used to execute the project
Solargis is used by agricultural engineers when designing solar installations. These may include solar drying structures or even solar powered irrigation systems. The software shares information on the amount of solar radiation and related variables from anywhere around the world. With this data, engineers can then determine the number of panels to install in an irrigation project and their inclinations. In the context of drying structures, the data informs the design of the solar collector area and the sizing of fans used in the structures.
This software is used when sizing pumps mostly in irrigation projects. It has the ability to among others, integrate solar radiation data and water requirements information to determine the most optimal solar pump for an application. The software can also generate flow curves for closed channel flow in piped irrigation systems. Thus, in many cases, Lorentz is used alongside other software such as Solargis and CropWat.
Geographical information software are proving exceedingly important in the design of many agricultural operations. The software such as ArcGIS are useful both at the beginning of a project where they offer valuable site data based on GIS maps and at the end, when assessing the as built state of the project. The most common use of ArcGIS for engineers is when performing project site delineation-this exercise is used to map out the target project area for interventions.