Kaleb Areda ’24
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Can Soil Nutrient Availability Limit Future Food Production?
Certificate(s): Applications of Computing, Materials Science and Engineering
Common agricultural methods deploy immense amounts of fertilizers that saturate soils with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Other important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and silicon are often neglected and not replenished by farmers. I studied some of the main processes associated with plant nutrient absorption, such as mineral dissolution and the cation-exchange capacity (CEC) of different soils. I calculated the quantities of 10 key nutrients present in a certain yield of the three major crops — corn, wheat and rice — using their dry weight. I then drew from a research review I wrote to calculate CEC and determine how much of the nutrients in the different nutrient pools are bioavailable. This allowed me to determine the critical nutrient-sufficiency levels of these crops, as well as how long they can be grown in a particular area with a relatively common soil type before extreme nutrient deficiency results. I learned significant data organization skills from this internship, and its focus on sustainability particularly inspired me to consider a certificate in sustainable energy.
Climate and Environmental Science
Molecular Environmental Geochemistry Group, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University
Satish Myneni, Professor of Geosciences