Scientists found alfalfa grows well in volcanic soil that mimics Martian regolithAlfalfa could in turn be used to fertilise other crops such turnips and radishesMarine bacteria could also be used to remove salt from briny waterStudy shows it is possible to use the resources on Mars to farm and grow plants

If humankind is to one day make the interplanetary jump from Earth to Mars, then the ability to grow food will be vital.

Matt Damon found a way in the 2015 blockbuster The Martian, managing to survive on potatoes during the fictional storyline.

Now that vision may may be a little closer to reality, after US scientists discovered that alfalfa plants may be the key to growing healthy vegetables on the red planet.

They found that alfalfa grows well in a volcanic soil that mimics Martian regolith, and that the alfalfa could then be turned into fertiliser to help grow turnips, radishes and even lettuce.

The researchers also used a marine bacteria to remove salt from briny water.

Together, they say this shows that it is possible to use the resources on Mars to farm and grow plants and sustain human missions and permanent settlements.

Forget growing potatoes! ALFALFA may be the key to farming on Mars - providing fertiliser for turnips, radishes and lettuce and removing salt from briny water

Food on the Red Planet: Matt Damon found a way to grow plants on Mars in the 2015 blockbuster The Martian (pictured), managing to survive on potatoes during the fictional storyline, and now making it a reality may be a little closer after scientists discovered that alfalfa plants may be the key to growing healthy vegetables in regolith soil

Forget growing potatoes! ALFALFA may be the key to farming on Mars - providing fertiliser for turnips, radishes and lettuce and removing salt from briny water

Scientists found that alfalfa (pictured) grows well in a volcanic soil that mimics Martian regolith, and that the alfalfa could then be turned into fertiliser to help grow turnips, radishes and even lettuce

Martian regolith soil is mostly made up of the volcanic rock basalt, which is low in nutrients and bad at holding water due to the absence of organic carbon.

Moreover, most of the surface water on Mars is locked away in polar ice sheets, while any that is in liquid form is likely to be very salty, making it unsuitable for growing plants for food.

In an attempt to discover how Martian resources could be used for food production, researchers from Iowa State University planted turnip and alfalfa seeds in pots containing ground-up basaltic rocks, designed to mimic Martian soil.

While the turnip plants grown in basalt were stunted and produced small, discoloured leaves, alfalfa was able to flourish without the need for any additional fertiliser.

The researchers then decided to test whether alfalfa could serve as a nutrient source for other crops grown in the simulant soil.

They used turnips, radishes and lettuces, as these plants all have a very high harvest index, low water uptake, brief growing cycle and require little attention, which makes them desirable food sources during martian habitation.

They found that growth of all three types of plant was boosted by the addition of alfalfa to the soil.

Growth of turnip plants increased by 190 per cent and produced healthy bulbs, while biomass of radishes bulbs and lettuce leaves increased by 311 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.

Forget growing potatoes! ALFALFA may be the key to farming on Mars - providing fertiliser for turnips, radishes and lettuce and removing salt from briny water

Turnip grown in alfalfa-treated or untreated basaltic regolith simulant soil and watered with fresh water. Turnip plants grown in alfalfa-treated soil experienced a 190 per cent increase in growth and produced healthy bulbs

Next, the researchers investigated how these crops could be watered on Mars.

They created a briny solution to simulate the water on Mars, and then added a marine bacteria called Synechococcus, which is known to desalinate very salty water.

Within four weeks, the salinity of the water was reduced by about 32 per cent, but this was still too salty to produce healthy crops.

They therefore filtered the solution through basalt-type volcanic rocks, which reduced the salinity further.

When the filtered solution was used to water turnip and radish plants growing in alfalfa-treated regolith-simulant soil, both grew healthily.

The dry weight of turnip plants increased by 278 per cent, and the fresh weight of radish bulbs increased by 1,047 per cent.

Forget growing potatoes! ALFALFA may be the key to farming on Mars - providing fertiliser for turnips, radishes and lettuce and removing salt from briny water

Researchers filtered the briny water that had been treated using Synechococcus bacteria through basalt-type volcanic rocks, which reduced the salinity further

Forget growing potatoes! ALFALFA may be the key to farming on Mars - providing fertiliser for turnips, radishes and lettuce and removing salt from briny water

Growth of turnip plants after six weeks in alfalfa-treated basaltic regolith simulant soil watered with filtered or unfiltered biodesalinated water, or fresh water (control)

‘One of the grand challenges of future human missions to Mars is the complexity of sending the required consumables from Earth,’ the researchers wrote in their paper.

‘An alternative approach is to produce consumables utilising martian in situ resources.

‘We report simple and efficient strategies for treating basaltic regolith soil and briny water simulants, and demonstrate that the treated simulants can sustain normal growth of food crops.

‘This study signifies that for long-term purposes, it is possible to treat in situ soil and water resources for farming on Mars to sustain human missions and permanent settlements.’

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Families' fury after 65ft phone mast appears 'with no warning'

Footage of Lionel Messi dribbling the life out of Nice for PSG is pure footballing bliss

Love Island's Georgia Steel displays her toned midriff in a crop top and mini skirt as she celebrates Cally Jane Beech's birthday in Manchester

EXCLUSIVE: Defiant mum-of-three says she will breastfeed her son until he is NINE if that's what the boy wants - and her only regret is not being able to nurse two of her children at once

'We're working on Helen's sexiness': Gorka Márquez warns Strictly partner Skelton to spice up her performances as she insists she's more 'functional' and 'efficient' than sensual

Married At First Sight UK's Chanita Stephenson stuns in a bright green mini dress as she reunites with glamorous co-star Sophie Brown for a night out in Manchester

EMILY PRESCOTT: By George! Baby number two on the way for ex-Chancellor George Osborne and Thea Rogers

Hollyoaks stars married in real life forced to close business due to 'economic crisis'

EMILY PRESCOTT: Kate Moss's daughter Lila Moss has designs on designing as she lands spot at New York school and turns 20

The Bachelor's Jed McIntosh releases emotional new single after his season of the dating show was postponed until 2023: 'Please just let me drown'

IND vs SA, 2nd T20I: Rahul Dravid all praise for THIS Indian pacer says, 'He is a really mentally strong cricketer '

College Football Fans Are Not Happy With Gary Danielson Today

Reece James sends cheeky dig at Wilfried Zaha as Chelsea star shuts down Crystal Palace star

Princess Athena of Denmark, 10, is being BULLIED in school after being dramatically stripped of her title as her royal parents defiantly vow to 'defend' their children

Chelsea news: Graham Potter set to make Romelu Lukaku call as Conor Gallagher thrives

JENNI MURRAY: The terror of being a teen in the shadow of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

NEWS RELATED

Most common Covid symptoms and how to tell if it's just a cold

Some of the most common symptoms of Covid right now have been revealed, as cases and hospital numbers continue to rise. With the colder months just around the corner, less ventilation and more gatherings indoors mean Covid can be spread around much easier. But, so can the common cold, which ...

View more: Most common Covid symptoms and how to tell if it's just a cold

Julianne Hough is the epitome of Parisian chic in a voluptuous black mini dress and totes a £1,700 YSL bag as she steps out during Fashion Week

She’s in the French capital for its annual Fashion Week. And Julianne Hough was the epitome of Parisian chic as she enjoyed a stroll through the city between catwalk shows on Saturday. The actress, 34, looked sensational in a voluminous black mini dress which teamed with a pricey YSL handbag. ...

View more: Julianne Hough is the epitome of Parisian chic in a voluptuous black mini dress and totes a £1,700 YSL bag as she steps out during Fashion Week

Bruce Willis denies that he sold his digital likeness to a deepfake-producing company... after his image appeared in a Russian ad campaign

Bruce Willis has not sold his digital likeness to a deepfake-producing company. The news about the 67-year-old retired actor was revealed by The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, and his representative provided a statement to confirm the news about the performer. The announcement occurred after several sources, including The Telegraph, reported that the ...

View more: Bruce Willis denies that he sold his digital likeness to a deepfake-producing company... after his image appeared in a Russian ad campaign

Jeremy Corbyn ‘to lose his Islington North seat to former MP’ who blamed his leadership for her defeat at the last election

Jeremy Corbyn is likely to lose Islington North seat to Labour MP Mary CreaghMs Creagh blamed his political leadership for her defeat at the last electionMr Corbyn is said to be planning to stand as independent after party suspension

View more: Jeremy Corbyn ‘to lose his Islington North seat to former MP’ who blamed his leadership for her defeat at the last election

Families face £100 weekly energy bill when they turn the heating on for longer this autumn

Families face landmark £100- a-week energy bills next month as prices soarAverage weekly gas and electricity use will leap from £75 to £100 or moreThe £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme works out at a discount of £7 per week

View more: Families face £100 weekly energy bill when they turn the heating on for longer this autumn

Lawyer who threw Molotov cocktail at NYPD car during George Floyd protests says she was drunk and dealing with 'unprocessed trauma' at the time, as she asks for reduced sentence

Urooj Rahman, 33, along with Colinford Mattis, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges punishable by no more than five years imprisonment in June Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months in return for the plea Rahman is now pushing to have that sentence converted into time served after spending 28 days in a federal jail in Brooklyn before posting $250,000 in bail Court documents say that Rahman's lawyers said on September 9 that Rahman was drinking vodka 'on an empty stomach' and was 'quite drunk'That wasn't Rahman's only excuse, according to attorneys. They added that she was suffering 'early trauma' from living as Muslim in post-9/11 New York City 

View more: Lawyer who threw Molotov cocktail at NYPD car during George Floyd protests says she was drunk and dealing with 'unprocessed trauma' at the time, as she asks for reduced sentence

Heroin addict, 34, is arrested for murdering his mother, 70, and setting her remains on fire outside her $900,000 in affluent Cape Cod, Massachusetts - after she threatened to kick him out for failing to get clean

Authorities were called to 70-year-old Susan Howe's home on Friday night after family members requested a welfare checkAt the same time, a separate call went out from a neighbor regarding a fire at her homeWhen police arrived, they found Howe's 34-year-old son, Adam, outside the home standing over the blazeInvestigators quickly ascertained that the fire was burning the body of Adam's motherA source told DailyMail.com that Adam had been suffering from a heroin addiction and was living with his mother at the time of her death  

View more: Heroin addict, 34, is arrested for murdering his mother, 70, and setting her remains on fire outside her $900,000 in affluent Cape Cod, Massachusetts - after she threatened to kick him out for failing to get clean

Cocaine galore! Walker discovers £90m of Class A drug in black sacks washed up on a Welsh beach

Around 30 black bags containing 30x 1kg packages of the Class A drug foundA project manager was walking along Tan-y-Bwlch beach near Aberystwyth The UK's cocaine market is estimated to be worth more than £25.7m daily Cocaine seizures soared by 161 per cent between early 2020 and early last year

View more: Cocaine galore! Walker discovers £90m of Class A drug in black sacks washed up on a Welsh beach

Student, 21, who took his life in lockdown was one of eleven in just six years at Exeter University, as his parents claim that staff did not do enough to help

"Pointless", "Dreadful": Conte must now bin £42k-p/w Spurs flop after Arsenal shocker - opinion

Kwasi Kwarteng says 'hindsight is a beautiful thing' in his first interview after his mini-budget crashed the pound, spooked the markets and sent Tory MPs into a tailspin

How much agony can a family take? Fears the police may return from the rain-lashed moors without answers for Keith Bennett's loved-ones as new hunt for his grave enters third day

Melissa George sports a eye-catching coat as she attends Hermès show at Paris Fashion Week - after leaving fans baffled by claiming her lips 'grew' due to the rain

Video: Maxine FIRST LOOK: Jemma Carlton transforms into notorious Carr with Scott Reid as murderer Ian Huntley in gripping trailer for new Soham murders investigation drama

Up to 127 Indonesian football fans are feared dead after a mass riot broke out on the pitch of the top division clash with armed police deploying tear gas

Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget could cost £25billion — almost half of the Government forecast — economic think tank suggests

Owners confirm popular shopping village closed for good following fire

‘Huge help': Mum makes £1,500 a day with ‘really easy' side hustle without leaving home

Video: 'We're working on Helen's sexiness': Gorka Márquez warns Strictly partner Skelton to spice up her performances as she insists she's more 'functional' and 'efficient' than sensual

Just like mom and dad! Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's daughter North, nine, channels her parents as she rocks a full leather face mask in Paris

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network