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12 months of Math: September - Math in Food and Agriculture

Have you ever stopped to think about where all the food you eat comes from? Someone had to grow the plants and raise the animals used to make the food we eat every day. It takes a lot of work and energy to get the food from the farms to your table. We explore many of the ways math is used in farming, fishing, and food and beverage processing.  Food is big business, so we are highlighting a number of different careers in agriculture and the food industry this month.

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers, consumers, exporters, and importers of agricultural products. The agricultural industry is comprised of several categories including farming, forestry and fishing, food and beverage processing and packages, textile, apparel and leather manufacturing, and food and beverages stores and eating places. The agricultural industry as defined contributes nearly $1 trillion to the national economy and just over 21 million jobs.

Do farmers use math?

They sure do, all day long. Farmers use units of time, measurement, estimation, money, proportion, geometry, and numerical labeling for seed, cattle, and equipment. Read more about Math on the Farm.

Here are a few of the math-related careers that are a part of the agricultural industry:

Agronomist: In this career you may study soil quality and characteristics, and research how to improve soil use and conservation.

Horticulturist: In this career you may work with plants of all kinds to study how each grows best, improving on growing practices, or genetics testing for plants.

Nutritionist: In this career you may examine the impact of various food on animals and humans. You may make discoveries on benefits or dangers in food consumption.

Read an extensive Math in Agriculture Careers compiled by the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services


Agriculture Math Talk

Here’s a fun fact to start:
Different breeds of sheep yield different amounts of wool, ranging from 2 to 30 (!) pounds per fleece. It takes about 2.5 pounds of wool to knit one sweater, depending on the size and tightness of the weave.  Imagine a farmer has a sheep that produces 12 pounds of wool. How many sweaters could she knit if each sweater only uses 2 pounds of wool?


How will you incorporate this month's theme into your class?  Do you have a different lesson with an Agriculture or Food theme that you can share?

Let's support each other this month!

Brooke Istas
Moderator