Prominent Post for Pole
January 31, 2013
Prof. Tadeusz Juliszewski, director of the Institute of Machinery Management, Ergonomics and Production Processes at the Faculty of Production and Power Engineering at the Cracow University of Agriculture, talks to Karolina Olszewska.
Juliszewski has taken over as president of the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR), an agricultural organization that aims to stimulate the development of science and technology in the field of agricultural engineering. Juliszewski will be heading the commission between 2013 and 2018. This marks the first time a Pole will be president of the organization in its 80-year history.
Poland is widely seen as an agricultural country. Just how strong are we in agricultural engineering?
Internationally, agricultural engineering is understood in a slightly different way than in Poland. We usually equate this term with mechanization in agriculture. Meanwhile, abroad, this term also covers farm produce and food processing, hydraulic engineering, infrastructure, storage and IT systems. In other words, the term applies to all equipment and facilities that in rural areas are used not only for agricultural production, but also for road building, water supply, sewage disposal and so on. The definition also covers transportation, logistics, agriculture and agricultural construction projects, such as warehouses, farm buildings, and storage facilities.
In reality, Poland is not a strictly agricultural country; it is a country with a modern agriculture sector based on industrial production systems developed by engineers. The problems, or even backwardness, of some regions should not obscure the picture of the huge changes that have taken place in Polish agriculture in recent years.
How does Polish research in the field of agriculture look from the international perspective? What kind of technology do we need?
Universities are not the only institutions that deal with agricultural engineering. We have two sector-specific institutes: the Industrial Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Poznań and the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences in Falenty near Warsaw.
The Industrial Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Poznań, with which I work closely, deals with agricultural machinery design. It is the leading institution in Poland in this field. It has quite a few innovative projects to its name, not only theoretical, but also practical applications in production.
In turn, the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences in Falenty deals with organizational and economic issues, including standardization and bringing Polish regulations into line with EU standards.
We take an active part in various conventions and conferences. The most important thing, however, is that modern, innovative agricultural engineering is changing production and produce processing technology in many regions in Poland. This is not just about produce for the food industry, but also about raw materials for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, textile, fuel and construction industries.
How did it happen that you were elected president of CIGR?
I have been working with CIGR for a long time. From 2002 to 2006, I served as chairman of one of the five technical sections at this organization called Management Ergonomics and System Engineering. I also presided over the International Committee of Work Study and Labor Management in Agriculture (CIOSTA) for two years. I must’ve put in quite a good performance there if 90 or so representatives from the agricultural and biosystems engineering community from different countries voted for me.
The main aims of CIGR are to stimulate the development of science and technology in the field of agricultural engineering; encourage education, training and mobility of young professionals; encourage interregional mobility; and facilitate the exchange of research results and technology. What kind of technology is most needed today?
I would like to emphasize the huge diversity of agricultural engineering in the world. Oftentimes what we see in Europe as modern has already been in use for a long time in the United States and Japan. Some countries in Asia and Africa, on the other hand, are still in the Middle Ages in terms of their primitive plowing tools and mules carrying loads. Water supplies, not only for consumption, but also for production, are one of the priorities for CIGR. Water is essential in food processing. For example, producing a liter of beer requires tens if not hundreds of liters of water.
Another issue is the use of information technology in what is known as precision agriculture. CIGR aims to disseminate engineering expertise to enable a rational use of local natural resources for the production of bio-based raw materials and their further processing.
Another aim of CIGR is to coordinate engineering education programs so that graduates can be competent professionals in their field regardless of where they studied.
Does CIGR also aim to help bring new technology to underdeveloped countries?
In addition to technical sections, working groups are organized to conduct research, provide expert studies and carry out projects commissioned by clients. One of these working groups is dealing with animal husbandry in hot climates. Arabs from Saudi Arabia want to breed dairy cattle at home, despite the fact that the people of this country could easily afford to import milk from Europe or other regions. Breeding livestock in a temperature close to 40 degrees Celsius involves completely different problems than in Europe. For example, air conditioning is one such problem. Special emphasis needs to be placed on animal welfare. What is needed is a system of recommendations to make sure that production takes place in stress-free conditions. We provide assistance with that. In Italy, in turn, in the southern regions, in Sicily, or Sardinia, we are dealing with water management. Concerns include not only water supply, but also landslides caused by rainfall—these have occurred in Poland as well.
What are your plans as the new president of CIGR?
I would like to include our community in projects carried out in the EU and elsewhere. This involves analyses of globalization in production and trade. I would also like to bring about a situation in which the exchange of views will take place not only via the internet, but also through the exchange of agricultural engineering experts. I would also like to change the stereotypical image of agricultural engineering in Poland as a field limited to the use of machinery in agriculture.
Do agricultural universities in Poland have a similar platform for cooperation as CIGR?
The main forum is the AgEngPol research network, which brings together all agricultural engineering centers with common tasks. The network is chaired by Prof. Ryszard Hołownicki from the Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice. As part of this network we prepare expert studies that we later submit to the Ministry of Agriculture and institutions linked with production and processing of farm produce. In each of the agricultural universities, we develop various projects. Recently these have involved biofuels, cost-effective energy management, agrophysics and information technology.
And what do you do at the Cracow University of Agriculture?
I deal with ergonomics in terms of agricultural engineering. This is the study of the relationship between man and machine, which means production technology. The functioning of a device or machine depends not only on its design, but also on the human being who operates it. Efficiency, effectiveness, and the safety of the direct user and other people, for example passengers on board an airplane, depends on the human factor. The issue is therefore to adapt the machine and the working environment in which the machine is used to the physical and mental predispositions of the human operator. This is sometimes called anthropocentrism and there is talk of the human factor in engineering. I also deal with this in the organizational sense, because I am chairman of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Committee for Ergonomics.
In addition, I work on liquid, gaseous and solid biofuels.
In the field of agricultural engineering, we deal with the production of raw materials to be processed into biofuel. These include biogas, fatty acid ethyl esters (vegetable oils), and methanol and ethanol as motor fuel additives. Solid biofuels such as briquettes or pellets, are made from wood, straw or other waste. We are capable of processing organic matter in a way so that it can replace conventional energy sources such as natural gas, diesel fuel or coal.
In my research work, I also deal with machinery maintenance.