Carmina Rangel-Pacheco ’23
Growing in the Garden State: Understanding Factors That Impact Food Production
I studied the effects of transitioning agricultural lands owned by Princeton University from conventional to sustainable farming practices, with a focus on soil fertility. During the study, Princeton grew a rotation of corn and soybeans using conventional or sustainable agricultural plans. Conventional plots received a combination of synthetic fertilizer, no soil amendment, and chemical herbicide, while the more sustainable plots received a combination of compost, cover crop and weed removal via manual cultivation. Deer fencing was incorporated in both. My primary task was to investigate which of these treatments had a greater effect on soil metrics such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content using simple and multivariate regression models. By the end of my internship, I was able to identify promising patterns that pointed toward a significant effect of compost application on nitrogen and potassium presence, along with an unforeseen positive percent change in calcium, potassium and magnesium in plots with deer fencing. Ultimately, while a longer study duration might have provided more robust results, this experience taught me incredible quantitative skills and inspired me to continue learning how to sustainably improve our food-production systems.
Food Systems, Water And Human Health
Rubenstein Research Group, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University- Princeton, New Jersey
Daniel Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Gina Talt, Food Systems Project Specialist, Office of Sustainability