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"Berry Thirsty" -- The Discovery Files


The Discovery Files
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The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 405-875-0058 on any telephone.

A team of mathematicians from the American Institute of Mathematics has created models that help identify which crops to plant where and when.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Strawberry yields.

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: light outdoor sounds, field) In the strawberry fields of drought-drenched California, mathematics can bear fruit.

Each year, AIM--the American Institute of Mathematics in Palo Alto brings together 800 expert mathematicians from around the world to do research on a wide variety of challenges: Migraines, medical imaging, and, in this case, how math can help growers in the berry patch. Nine of those experts teamed up with Driscoll's berry people and others to come up with possible solutions to problems posed by drought conditions.

It's more complex than just computing water consumption and planting strategies. The models the team developed consider soil properties, precipitation data, topography, and runoff measurements. The new models I.D. which crops to plant where, and when. Using an iPad connected to wireless sensors, a grower can measure which plants have been watered sufficiently, preventing fertilizer runoff, while using less water from the aquifer.

The team believes their models could be even better with input from sociologists and environmental economists. This multi-dimensional approach may work to improve other crop yields as well.

Mathematicians: Outstanding in their field or in somebody else's field.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
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