Area of Science: Ecology/Agriculture
Based on the current world population growth, the United Nations predicts that the world population will grow to 9 billion by 2050. That could be a major problem, considering how in 1989 with a population of only 5.19 billion, there was an estimated 450 million people on the verge of starvation, and another billion undernourished; although there was only 925 million hungry people in the world in 2010 , that is still 925 million too many.
This led us to believe that although some people are very concerned about where their food is coming from, or the impact that their food production is having on the environment, there are still many others that worry about if they are going to even have food at all.
Our goal this year is to compare different agricultural practices, specifically organic and non-organic farming. We will have variables such as drought and infestation of disease or insects. We plan to begin our model with winter wheat in individual regions of the United States, but it would be easy to expand to other crops and even livestock from there.
We plan to make our model by using a modeling program that we are familiar with, such as Starlogo or NetLogo. We will use information from USDA records to help calibrate and check our model. We plan to model regions of the United States by breaking it down into individual states or regions.
Progress to Date
We have found that there is an incredible amount of data over almost any sort of agricultural production. These sources vary from studies performed by universities to USDA crop records for the past 100 years. We have evaluated the data and determined approximations for how much more efficient non-organic production is as opposed to organic methods .
From here, we will map out regions of the United States based on the primary crop grown there. We will further analyze data and get a map set up in NetLogo where we can change variables such as weather and pests. We will try to model at least four different regions.
We hope to be able to find what sort of methods would work best in different regions. We also want to determine if certain practices are more effective for different scenarios based upon weather patterns and the crops being grown.
Johnson, Charles. “Global Foodscape.” The Progressive Farmer September 2012: 47-76.
Kesseba, A. M. (Ed.). (1989). Technology Systems for Small Farmers (I. Jazairy, Comp.) Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
“2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics,” http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm December 4, 2011
Organic Farm Yield and Profitability [Powerpoint slides]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www.neon.cornell.edu/training/ppts/OrganicFarmYieldandProfitability.pdf
USDA Natonal Agricultural Statistics Service. (2003, April). Track Records: United States Crop Production (Report No. 96120).
McBride, W. (Ed.). (2012, October 31). Organic Costs and Returns. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/commodity-costs-and-returns/organic-costs-and-returns.aspx
Randall Rush, Quinton Flores
Alan Daugherty, Rebecca Raulie
Sponsoring Teacher: Alan Daugherty
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