Author Topic: Scaling Agriculture on Mars  (Read 569433 times)

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2160 on: 06/20/2023 01:24 pm »
Just so we all know where this is coming from, how many other Dirts have you experimented on?

One more than you have.

This sniping (and now false accusations) is tiresome.

[JF: I don't remember you mentioning your other DirtŤ experiments.]

It's sounding more and more like you have no basis to compare eastern US temperate forest soil vs. anything else. That answers my question. Please do correct me if possible.

To aid Googling, the US Forest Service refers to the entire ecoregion as Eastern Temperate Forests fyi.  https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/38121

EFD worked well as an acronym until this moment.  ETF is a fine substitute, and I have carried out decades of experiments with this one soil group, as I have consistently maintained.  The knowledge I have gained from working this soil is consistent with my empirical approach to the problem of amending martian or lunar soil to accomodate a terrestrial biome.

In an earlier version of my station, I tentatively proposed experimenting with four terrestrial soil groups, but have simplified it to the one at the moment.  BioSphere2 tried too many soil groups and biomes, imo.  As the experimental use of ETF proceeds, there might come a time in the development of my RS concept to study and compare other soil types.

Remember, my RS concept starts with only ETF.  ETF experiments can be carried out with both martian and lunar regolith on their respective celestial bodies, or concommitantly on the RS itself.  It would be a worthwhile exercise to study the same soil/regolith mixtures on one gee and compare them to martian and lunar gravities.

Just for grins, work on the embassy for ET is proceeding on schedule:

https://etembassy.org/
« Last Edit: 06/20/2023 02:05 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2161 on: 08/17/2023 05:45 pm »
There was a NASA competition about Mars food a few months ago. I didn't post something here and neither did other people. I did run into this article today:

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/08/17/meat-industry-lobbying-ahead-of-farm-bill-00111634

This is about efforts from the cultivated meat industry to get some guarantees into the new US farm bill. The article also reviews just how extraordinarily difficult it is to scale up lab grown meat on earth right now, to the point they are hoping for government guarantees (a form of subsidy).

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2162 on: 12/04/2023 06:44 pm »
Astronauts might be able to grow plants on the moon, thanks to a few Earth microbes

https://www.space.com/earth-microbes-moon-soil-plant-growth

This is a Chinese study about the Moon, but what works on the Moon can help inform what will work on Mars

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2163 on: 12/05/2023 05:10 pm »
The article also reviews just how extraordinarily difficult it is to scale up lab grown meat on earth right now

Or ever, most likely. This is one of those areas where (to borrow an Elon-ism) success may not be among the possible outcomes.

Turns out that skin makes a more efficient skin than...  checks notes building and maintaining a pharmaceutical factory around you. Who knew?

By the same token, it turns out that having an immune system is more efficient than trying to hermetically exclude all microbes from a giant vat, and discarding + sterilizing the entire thing whenever you fail (which is often).
 
Both skin and immune systems are among those pesky biological "inefficiencies" that lab-grown meat is so proud of eliminating. However by all indications their "cure" is far (far!) worse than the disease, and pride cometh before the investment bubble pops.  ;)
« Last Edit: 12/05/2023 05:18 pm by Twark_Main »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2164 on: 12/05/2023 05:29 pm »
Plant-based ďmeatĒ seems more scalable and realistic. I actually like Impossible Burgers, they really do feel, smell, and taste like meat. Not the same kind of meat as a cow burger or whatever, but does seem way more animal-origin than plant-origin unless you know better.

Likewise, I think vat-grown microbial protein, like Calystaís FeedKind, makes a lot of sense as well. These sort of vat-grown foodstuffs (like beer, yeast, microalgae, etc) seem like a good solution when lighted, pressurized area is a constraint. Seems a good approach for food staples.

Lighted greenhouses for other stuff, too.
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Offline lamontagne

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2165 on: 12/05/2023 08:19 pm »
I guess you can just learn to love chick peas+spices if you want to live on Mars.
Marmite and vegemite by the spoonful remain acquired tastes.

Online MickQ

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2166 on: 12/06/2023 08:30 am »
My wife is Vegan.  Iíve acquired a taste for TVP.  Donít mind it at all.

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2167 on: 12/06/2023 01:09 pm »
My wife is Vegan.  Iíve acquired a taste for TVP.  Donít mind it at all.
Discovering lentils and squashes. I must say this generation of recipes is much more interesting than the first generation I was subjected to, a few decades ago when my sister became a vegetarian. 
I think the astronauts on Mars should put aside a bit more time for cooking though.  This type of cooking requires a bit more preparation.
Doing more or less without meat seems a lot simpler than re-inventing it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2168 on: 12/06/2023 04:18 pm »
I guess you can just learn to love chick peas+spices if you want to live on Mars.
Marmite and vegemite by the spoonful remain acquired tastes.
Thatís not really what Impossible tastes like.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2023 04:26 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Slarty1080

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2169 on: 12/06/2023 05:22 pm »
I guess you can just learn to love chick peas+spices if you want to live on Mars.
Marmite and vegemite by the spoonful remain acquired tastes.
Thatís not really what Impossible tastes like.
They say you can live up to three years longer if you never eat bacon (3 long miserable bacon-less years).

But seriously, just grow fruit and veg on Mars. Either everyone on Mars is a vegan, small amounts of frozen meat are imported from Earth or small scale chicken/fish production is started on Mars. 
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline Paul451

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2170 on: 12/06/2023 08:16 pm »
But seriously, just grow fruit and veg on Mars. Either everyone on Mars is a vegan, small amounts of frozen meat are imported from Earth or small scale chicken/fish production is started on Mars.

I think this for Earth too. Either be vegan or be mostly vegetarian with a small amount of conventional meat. Or don't. I don't see the point of "Impossible" pseudo-meat and similar products. Especially don't see the point of cultured meat. (Like we need more hyperprocessed food.)

But on Mars, growing algae and other microbial foods might be easier than growing high-nutrient vegetables, so it might make sense for processed microbial food cultures to make up the bulk of the diet. In which case, processing MFCs into pseudo-foods might be more palatable long-term than choking down a tub of green sludge every day. OTOH, if it turns out to be easier to grow veggies, then processed pseudo-food doesn't make sense on Mars either.

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2171 on: 12/06/2023 08:55 pm »
On the positive side of meat and animals, they do produce a lot of sh*t, and that is great for soils.  So a complete analysis must add to the meat value the soil improvement value.  The feed ratio is not the only value to be had.  The poo also feeds bacteria and the soil biome, adding mass to the settlement's living system, and eventually bringing the balance a bit closer to the mass ratios in the Earth's biome, the only one we know that can last a reallllllly long time.


« Last Edit: 12/06/2023 08:57 pm by lamontagne »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2172 on: 12/06/2023 09:03 pm »
On the positive side of meat and animals, they do produce a lot of sh*t, and that is great for soils.  So a complete analysis must add to the meat value the soil improvement value.  The feed ratio is not the only value to be had.  The poo also feeds bacteria and the soil biome, adding mass to the settlement's living system, and eventually bringing the balance a bit closer to the mass ratios in the Earth's biome, the only one we know that can last a reallllllly long time.
Animals donít add any fixed nitrogen to a closed system. The only thing that does that is processes like lightning, Starship launches 😉, Haber-Bosch process (hydrogen plus nitrogen = ammonia), and some types of bacteria (such as microalgae/cyanobacteria and certain bacteria symbiotic with legumes).
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Offline lamontagne

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2173 on: 12/06/2023 09:15 pm »
On the positive side of meat and animals, they do produce a lot of sh*t, and that is great for soils.  So a complete analysis must add to the meat value the soil improvement value.  The feed ratio is not the only value to be had.  The poo also feeds bacteria and the soil biome, adding mass to the settlement's living system, and eventually bringing the balance a bit closer to the mass ratios in the Earth's biome, the only one we know that can last a reallllllly long time.
Animals donít add any fixed nitrogen to a closed system. The only thing that does that is processes like lightning, Starship launches 😉, Haber-Bosch process (hydrogen plus nitrogen = ammonia), and some types of bacteria (such as microalgae/cyanobacteria and certain bacteria symbiotic with legumes).
Nitrogen is great stuff, but it's a tiny part of what makes up life.  Animals contribute carbon and in particular semi digested structural elements that help to make up soil and create its aerated structure.  The cost of the substrate in hydroponics is non negligible.  After all, soil has a long record of success and is great at supporting bacterial diversity. 
The faster we bring in CO2 and nitrogen from the Martian environment and into a working ecosystem the better the stability will be.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2023 09:16 pm by lamontagne »

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2174 on: 12/06/2023 09:21 pm »
From the graph, the Plant to human ratio is about 7500 to 1, and 10 000 to 1 for life in general.  We don't need to go there right away, but if we are looking at scaling agriculture on Mars, we would want to have considerably more life than humans as fast as possible.

Offline Slarty1080

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2175 on: 12/06/2023 10:57 pm »
On the positive side of meat and animals, they do produce a lot of sh*t, and that is great for soils.  So a complete analysis must add to the meat value the soil improvement value.  The feed ratio is not the only value to be had.  The poo also feeds bacteria and the soil biome, adding mass to the settlement's living system, and eventually bringing the balance a bit closer to the mass ratios in the Earth's biome, the only one we know that can last a reallllllly long time.
This is true although humans have a very similar ability. The whole question is rather complex and would require detailed analysis of all the interacting processes - carbon cycle, water cycle, nitrogen cycle etc etc and the amount of each species that would be required or accommodated.
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2176 on: 12/07/2023 10:46 pm »
Practicing Orthodox Christian here. We are right now in the Christmas lent. I go and do eat both the Impossible Whopper and the Beyond Famous Star, which I just had for lunch incidentally. Neither tastes like an actual patty. I am really looking forward to Christmas which is the end of that lent and eating meat and cheese and egg again. Animals eat what humans do not eat, or at least do not eat pleasantly and provide supplementary food options. Considering the food conversion ratios typical of modern animal production, think meat being 10% of the typical diet in a system as closed as Mars and likely consumed in festive occasions. Think eating lamb for Easter or turkey for Christmas rather than 3 burgers a day, which incidentally is a good description of the Mediterranean diet. My late grandmother was telling me that back in the day, as recently of the 1950s and 1960s, in Greece a typical family would eat meat once a week every Sunday, because they could not afford to eat it more often. That does sound like a mature Mars agricultural system, unless somehow we manage to create on Mars ranges of the kind that are out there on the US West or Argentina or other places that have tons of meat production from grazing systems as opposed to animals fed from plant leftovers typical of the Mediterranean. I am pretty sure that entomophagy and fish farms and other stuff like that are in the future on Mars, but in a mature system we will also bring poultry and livestock on Mars.

Now, if mealworm burgers were available at the burger joints the way that Impossible Whoppers or the Beyond Famous Star are available in California or the McShrimp is in Greece during the Great Lent, I would definitely try it during lent. Like many other such lenten options though, eating them is part of the ascesis of Lent rather than something you crave. I definitely prefer to eat more traditional fare like Mussels with Rice than a fake meat burger, but the local burger joint does not serve that. I see mussels with rice more available than a burger on Mars though. Now, how can we get more spices on Mars early?

Online Lampyridae

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2177 on: 12/08/2023 06:35 am »
Practicing Orthodox Christian here. We are right now in the Christmas lent. I go and do eat both the Impossible Whopper and the Beyond Famous Star, which I just had for lunch incidentally. Neither tastes like an actual patty. I am really looking forward to Christmas which is the end of that lent and eating meat and cheese and egg again. Animals eat what humans do not eat, or at least do not eat pleasantly and provide supplementary food options. Considering the food conversion ratios typical of modern animal production, think meat being 10% of the typical diet in a system as closed as Mars and likely consumed in festive occasions. Think eating lamb for Easter or turkey for Christmas rather than 3 burgers a day, which incidentally is a good description of the Mediterranean diet. My late grandmother was telling me that back in the day, as recently of the 1950s and 1960s, in Greece a typical family would eat meat once a week every Sunday, because they could not afford to eat it more often. That does sound like a mature Mars agricultural system, unless somehow we manage to create on Mars ranges of the kind that are out there on the US West or Argentina or other places that have tons of meat production from grazing systems as opposed to animals fed from plant leftovers typical of the Mediterranean. I am pretty sure that entomophagy and fish farms and other stuff like that are in the future on Mars, but in a mature system we will also bring poultry and livestock on Mars.

Now, if mealworm burgers were available at the burger joints the way that Impossible Whoppers or the Beyond Famous Star are available in California or the McShrimp is in Greece during the Great Lent, I would definitely try it during lent. Like many other such lenten options though, eating them is part of the ascesis of Lent rather than something you crave. I definitely prefer to eat more traditional fare like Mussels with Rice than a fake meat burger, but the local burger joint does not serve that. I see mussels with rice more available than a burger on Mars though. Now, how can we get more spices on Mars early?

Martians will need to ditch the Americuisine treadmill of chicken, +-pork, beef and lamb. Pork is actually a great feed-to-protein conversion animal, similar to chicken and will happily eat human kitchen scraps, and as murder mystery fans know, humans too.

Rats, especially cane rats (see below), are small and we already have experience with rodents in space. If you can eat bugs, you can eat cane rat, which is apparently exquisite, like pork. Guinea pigs, capybaras, pacas and so on are also rodent menu candidates.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5341521/

Poultry alternatives include quail, pheasant and guineafowl. They're hardier than chickens in general, and their litter is generally easier to manage. They're also more flavourful. Their maturation speed is such that they can be launched as eggs, hatch in space, lay eggs in space and then their eggs can be used on landing even if they all die during re-entry or the crew chef gets ideas.

There are also a few cultural problems besides vegans. Pretty much every alternative meat is not kosher. Pork of course but also catfish, prawns, mussels, bugs (except for four kinds of locust), rabbits, rats. Islam is similar, though opinions differ for seafood and rabbits. Quail, guineafowl etc are generally kosher and halaal.

Islam also calls for a goat or some other livestock to be slaughtered at Eid. On Mars it's a nice to have (Islam ofc has exceptions for when you simply *can't* do things) but there is a cultural motive to have goats, and having goat cheese would be awesome.

One last thing I want to add is that having animals around helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Just don't give them names.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2023 07:34 am by Lampyridae »

Offline Twark_Main

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2178 on: 12/11/2023 01:46 am »
Pork is actually a great feed-to-protein conversion animal, similar to chicken and will happily eat human kitchen scraps

Pork is less efficient than chicken, both in terms of feed conversion ratio (chicken is ~50% better) and in terms of protein output (chicken is ~33% better).
 
Generally warm-blooded animals tend to be less efficient, as well as hairless/featherless animals. After all, heat loss is just calories not being converted into food!
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Online sghill

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Re: Scaling Agriculture on Mars
« Reply #2179 on: 12/12/2023 01:13 pm »
Just remember, the nastier/cheaper the meat, the more likely it is to be ground up with tons of spices.

I figure patties and links of "some sort" will be the rule, not the exception on Mars for any sort of flesh intake. 

That, and eggs of all sorts...

The nice thing about heavy spices (other than salt and black pepper), is that you can almost universally grow them in containers with some light and water and a growing medium. I expect cottage gardens to be abundant for nearly every apartment, and that (as I've previously stated at length) market-day style trading between apartments will be a universal economic and social activity among the colonists.

Separately, I do very much worry about where the colonists will obtain table salt, and how they will recycle it into a food-grade form.

Contaminated salts can easily be obtained from waste streams by distilling, but food grade table salt requires separation. And if they don't separate out salt from recycled biomass, it will accumulate in whatever they are growing from recycled wastes to the point of toxicity.

One idea I considered is to obtain new salt from Martian sands as part a chlorine perchlorate purification process, and to throw out contaminated salty brine from reclaimed biomass and sewage.  You'd need a sodium source- either imported or obtained in situ, but it could be a way to scrub martian sand of perchlorates and obtain table salt in the presence of oxygen and electricity.

Ideas?
« Last Edit: 12/12/2023 01:23 pm by sghill »
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