Sruti Chitluri ’23
Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Growing in the Garden State: Understanding Factors That Impact Food Production
I studied five farms around Princeton, New Jersey, looking at how different farming styles impact such outcomes as crop health, greenhouse gas emissions, weed presence and the onset of disease. We collected data on precipitation, temperature, leaf wetness, soil fertility and animal pressure. We then used statistical software and Microsoft Excel to model the various factors that influence crop health. I focused on farmland owned by Princeton University that is dedicated to growing soybeans in 11 plots, with each plot receiving a different treatment. Conducting significance testing, I was able to compare and contrast each plot’s relative success. The conventional practices of growing genetically modified plants and using herbicide resulted in few diseases and weeds, but such practices also contributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions and poor soil fertility. Organic practices at other farms led to more biodiversity and less environmental impact. Those crops, however, often succumbed to fungal disease. Comparing the success of crops across farms allowed me to understand the complexities of the agricultural system and has encouraged me to pursue a career in climate science and research.
Food Systems, Water And Human Health
Rubenstein Group, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Daniel Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Gina Talt, Sustainability Project Assistant, Office of Sustainability