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Soil on the moon and Mars will likely support crops

Researchers at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands have produced crops on NASA's Mars and Moon soil simulator. The research supports the notion that it would not only be possible to grow food on Mars and the Moon to feed future settlers, but also to obtain viable seeds from locally grown crops.

Wieger Wamelink and his colleagues at Wageningen University and Research have grown ten different crops: watercress, arugula, tomato, radish, rye, quinoa, spinach, chives, peas and leeks. The researchers simulated the properties of Lunar and Martian regolith and "normal" soil (potting of the Earth's soil) as a control.

Nine of the ten crops sown well and edible parts were harvested from them. Spinach was the exception. Total biomass production per tray was the highest for Earth control and the Mars soil simulator which differed significantly from the Moon soil simulator. Seeds produced by three species (radish, rye and watercress) were successfully tested. for germination.

The article, "Crop growth and seed viability in Mars and Moon soil simulators" by Wieger Wamelink and colleagues, was published in De Gruyter's Open Access magazine, Open Agriculture.

"We were thrilled when we saw the first tomatoes ever grown on the Mars soil simulator turn red. That meant that the next step towards a sustainable closed agricultural ecosystem was taken," said Wieger Wamelink.

Research work

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