The goal of this project was to find a replacement for corn. Due to the drought that is happening and will continue to worsen over the coming years, the corn crop will suffer. This year, about 20% of the corn crop was lost due to drought, and that will be exacerbated as the drought continues. The idea that this project is based off of is the idea of using cactus to replace corn in cattle feed. The cactus would work because it needs less water to grow. Right now, it takes about 9.6 lbs of corn to get 1 lb of beef on the table. The corn crop's failure could impact a large part of American life.
To start out, Emily tried to create some recipes for humans using the cactus. Eventually, she decided that the taste of cactus was not as universally appealing as that of corn. She moved on to figuring out the economics and feasibility of using cactus as cattle feed. This seemed like a much more possible idea. She made Vensim models of the cactus economy to see how feasible the idea was. According model, they will have to grow approximately 68 million lbs of cactus in order to become profitable.
Because of the amount of water saved in feeding cactus to cattle, up to 450 million gallons of fresh water could be saved every day. This would be very helpful in a drought.