Once crop selections have been made, farmers begin the processes of planting, nurturing, and harvesting farm commodities. These activities are likely to require the use of mathematics daily. For example, to limit their effect on the environment, farmers use low application rates for fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. Typical application rates range from 0.5 to 16 ounces of active ingredient per acre. The chemicals are diluted with water for application. Mathematical formulas, such as the one below, are used to obtain the proper dosage through simultaneous adjustments of spray pressure, tractor speed, and chemical concentration.
This is just one of many commonplace examples of the use of math in producing a crop. Farmers who irrigate must calibrate irrigation-pump engine speed to apply a given amount of water to a given area of cropland. Corn growers figure time remaining until harvest by calculating growing degree days, which is a measure of heat units needed by a corn plant to reach maturity. Formulas relating relative humidity and time to moisture content are used by farmers who must dry alfalfa or other forage crops before baling Family farmers may still feed cows by hand, but the trend is toward larger corporate farms, which can increase profit margins by increasing numbers and by mechanizing tasks such as feeding livestock. them as hay. The opportunities to use math in crop production are nearly endless. Livestock Production
Decreasing profit margins and increasing demand for uniform, safe animal food products have boosted the significance of mathematics in livestock operations. Cattle, poultry, hog, and sheep producers keep individual productivity records on each animal, retaining for breeding purposes only those that efficiently convert feed into pounds of meat, milk, eggs, or wool. For each animal, producers track rates of gain, feed consumption, carcass fat percentage, ratios of both more expensive and less desirable cuts of meat, and...
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