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Megan Bellinger

Modeling Crop Yields in Zambia Using Climate, Soil, and Survey Data

Department: IDEAS
Advisor: Tara Troy

This project discusses the history of sustainable agriculture adoption in Zambia as well as the methods that have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of different adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. It follows this review with its own contribution by employing recently compiled and published soil data with a Geographic Information System (GIS) approach that allows the compilation of data from different sources and resolutions to inform researchers on what factors may be influential to crop yields for maize farmers in Zambia. Included climate, soil, and survey variables were chosen based on the literature review. Preliminary statistical analysis was carried out in Stata and Matlab with linear regressions, and suggests that future analysis of farming outputs in Zambia should include analysis of pre-rainy season and end-of-rainy season precipitation in addition to factors that are commonly considered, such as survey data. The research will be enhanced with hierarchical modeling of survey data at the ward and country level, and could also be built upon with a temporal analysis which would be possible given additional data on household production of maize.

About Megan Bellinger:
Megan Bellinger is an undergraduate senior in the IDEAS program at Lehigh, studying environmental engineering and public health. She is interested in how human and environmental health relate, especially in the context of food security and climate change. She has been working on her current research project under the advisement of Professor Tara Troy since May, thanks to a Clare Boothe Luce fellowship. The inspiration for this research project came from a class Megan took while studying global health and development in Geneva, Switzerland during her junior spring semester. Outside the classroom, Megan is involved with the LU Philharmonic Orchestra, is president of the Rossin Junior Fellows association at Lehigh, and enjoys running up and down South Mountain.