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July 14, 2014

Strawberry fields forever -- with some help from mathematicians!

The Pajaro Valley in California's Monterey Bay area is ideally suited for agriculture. In fact, the Pajaro Valley and the nearby Salinas Valley produce nearly half of the strawberries grown in the United States yearly. But, the water source for the valley is a confined underground aquifer that is slowly being depleted. How can mathematics help solve this problem? A team headed by mathematicians Kathleen Fowler and Lea Jenkins has made significant progress in the creation of a virtual farm model to study alternative crop management strategies and their effect on water usage and profit. The team also investigated a surface water analysis to understand feasible ways to capture rainfall for re-infiltration (or recharging) into the aquifer.

Credit: National Science Foundation

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