Mathematicians helping farmers to grow more strawberries

Mathematicians helping farmers to grow more strawberries

Mathematicians are helping farmers in boosting strawberry and raspberry production in drought-hit Southern California by educating them about how to make the best use of the limited water.

In the berry-producing Parajo Valley, experts in mathematics are suggesting numerical modeling or numbers that help farmers to determine where their water is going during irrigation, when water moves out of roots' reach and the right time to turn the water off.

Mathematician Kathleen Fowler, from Clarkson University, said, "As mathematicians one of the things we were hoping to offer was a different way of looking at a problem. What can we plant, what's the rotation strategy? So that's the type of thing we hope to use mathematical approaches and algorithms to analyze."

Strawberry farmer John Eiskamp said that numerical models suggested by mathematicians were helping them in saving a precious resource amid parched summer.

Estelle Basor, president of the American Institute of Mathematics, said it was not just about producing more fruit; a small decision could have a really massive impact on crops and livelihoods.

California is in the grasp of harsh dry condition for the third consecutive year, which forced the state water distribution authorities to slash supplies to almost all sectors, including farming sector. A water emergency was announced in the state in January, Governor Jerry Brown urged people to cut their water use by 20 per cent. But, all restrictions could reduce water use by just 5 per cent.

Shortage of water has forced farmers across the state to leave thousands of acres of farming land fallow this year, paving way for a sharp rise in food prices in the coming months.

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