Human urine can become a fertilizer for Martian plants
As you know, for good agriculture, the soil used must have a rich arsenal of minerals and organic substances. Despite the fact that the Martian soil contains many different minerals, it is extremely lacking in the second important ingredient – organic matter. In order for future earthly colonists to be able to start a rather troublesome process of growing plants on the rusty surface of another planet, scientists have come up with a new way to enrich Martian soil. So, for example, human urine can be a wonderful fertilizer available to any researcher in the alien world.
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How to grow a plant on Mars?
Curious humanity has already made many attempts to grow plants in simulations of extremely harsh conditions existing on other planets. Back in 2016, scientists from the Netherlands took the first steps in growing food plants in simulations of both lunar and Martian soils. It was then that specialists from the University of Wangeningen found that although the plants they planted really felt good only in terrestrial soil, their condition improved significantly after fertilizer from freshly cut grass was added to the soil used.
Unfortunately, the Red Planet is not famous for its lush lawns, and growing flowers and herbs in Martian greenhouses would require a large amount of liquid water and free space. Knowing this, researchers recently drew attention to struvite – one of the phosphate minerals obtained from human urine in modern wastewater treatment plants.
During a series of greenhouse trials, the researchers planted bean seeds in 60 different pots that were filled with either imitation moon or Martian soil or ordinary earth soil for flowering plants. Half of the pots additionally contained up to 15 grams of struvite, while others did not have any significant fertilizer. In addition, during the experiment, all experimental plants were automatically watered under the same temperature conditions in a specially designed greenhouse.
As the seeds germinated, the scientists controlled their further growth rate. Scientists noted that all struvite-fertilized plants showed the most striking development indicators, and those plants that grew on lunar and terrestrial soils were able to grow with a fairly large margin.
Nevertheless, the researchers are confident that their growth rate can be significantly increased if, in combination with struvite, fertilizers obtained from human feces are used. A similar solution has already been used by the main character of the movie “Martian” Ridley Scott, and perhaps the idea proposed by the film’s screenwriters could really help solve the problem of providing future Martian astronauts with the necessary amount of fresh food at least at the very first stages of our presence on the planet.
Be that as it may, in the future the Martian colonies could come up with more practical ways of growing cultivated plants. Or maybe one day we will abandon them altogether? On the pages of Hi-News, we already wrote that the next generation of earthlings will be able to eat bread from the air or full (almost) meat from a test tube.