Kudos to President Dony, P.Eng., FEC, for a great overview of the evolving role of our profession through the successive industrial revolutions that have marked the history of humankind since the 1700s (“Adapting to new realities,” Engineering Dimensions, March/April 2018). Too bad he neglected to comment on the key role engineering has played in the equally important agricultural/food revolutions that have occurred in parallel. Engineering advances in areas such as mechanization, soil and water management, and crop and livestock production, to name a few, have increased the productivity of our agri-food sector beyond the wildest dreams of the peasants and artisans of yesterday. Engineering has freed millions of workers from the drudgery of human-powered agriculture who, as a direct result, became available to contribute to the first, second, third and now fourth industrial revolutions. Advances in agri-food engineering remain as important in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as they were when the first one occurred. When considering challenges such as the global population closing in on the 10 billion mark, the wastage of almost half the food produced in developed countries, or the use of more than 80 per cent of fresh water resources by the agri-food industry, it becomes clear that innovative engineering solutions in agriculture and food production will be as, if not more, important than those in, let’s say, artificial intelligence if humanity is to live long and prosper on planet Earth now, tomorrow and in the years ahead! Let us be thankful to our agri-food engineering colleagues the next time we stop at the grocery store or have a meal at a restaurant.
Claude Laguë, P.Eng., Ottawa, ON