• Kate Ayers

Soil on Moon and Mars could produce crops

Crop production in space could become a reality, according to Dutch researchers and NASA officials.

Researchers at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands grew 10 crops in space soil simulant, including tomatoes, rye, quinoa and spinach, the release said. All the crops produced harvestable biomass except for spinach.

The soil that researchers used was NASA’s simulated Lunar and Martian regolith, an October release from the academic publisher De Gruyter said. Regolith is the layer of unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock and is present on Earth, the moon, Mars and some asteroids.

The scientists compared plants grown in the regolith to plants grown in potting soil from Earth.

“We were thrilled when we saw the first tomatoes ever grown on Mars soil simulant turning red. It meant that the next step towards a sustainable closed agricultural ecosystem had been taken,” said Wieger Wamelink, a biologist at the university.

The full article is published online in the October edition of Open Agriculture, De Gruyter’s open access journal.

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