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#51 2007-07-30 18:11:33

nickname
Member
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2006-05-15
Posts: 354

Re: Building soil

RobertDyck,

Chopping out the entire group of plants that require full sun also chops out the ones that take additional advantage of it.
Some c3 plants can grow with less light but they produce less carbon products for weight and less c02 conversion for weight.

Your sort of right about the Calvin-Benson cycle , it was fist produced when co2 was higher but at a time 0xyen content in the atmosphere was much higher.

Per weight of atmosphere c02 was much more difficult to react with than any other time.
It makes some sense that an adaptation to collect more c02 from a more concentrated 0xygen atmosphere would happen at this point.

Anyway its a mute point about c3 and c4 as no plants will grow in 100% co2 atmosphere, well 99% anyway. smile


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#52 2007-07-30 19:45:20

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
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Re: Building soil

Cyanobacteria will thrive in a CO2 atmosphere without O2. Remember I said that is one constituent of peat bogs, it fixes nitrogen. How much O2 does sphagnum moss need again?

Also realize the best source of carbon for greenhouse gasses is calcite and dolomite in the soil. You have to mine for fluoride minerals anyway, might as well use the carbonate minerals. That way you don't reduce the mass of CO2 gas while trying to increase atmospheric density. Calcite has chemical forumla Ca(CO3), while dolomite is CaMg(CO3)2. That means 3 oxygen atoms for every carbon. Greenhouse gasses are CF4, C2F6, SF6, CF3Br, and perhaps C3F8 and C4F10. Bromine is found in the soil as salt NaBr, and sulphur as gypsum Ca(SO4)·2(H2O) or jarosite KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6. This means a lot of oxygen. A common fluorine mineral on Earth is Fluorite, aka Fluorspar. Martyn Fogg's Terraforming book says on page 234 that about 10ppm (~0.01 mbar) greenhouse gasses would warm sufficiently to sublimate dry ice. This would mass 40 billion tons. A lot of gas, but also realize you will release 1.5 molecules of O2 for every molecule of CF4 or CF3Br, 3 molecules of O2 for every C2F5, 2 for SF6, 4.5 for C3F8 and 6 for C4F10. Assuming more light PFCs than heavy, we can expect twice as much oxygen as greenhouse gasses. That means 20ppm (~0.02 mbar) oxygen. Not a lot, but it is a start.

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#53 2007-07-31 00:08:18

noosfractal
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From: Biosphere 1
Registered: 2005-10-04
Posts: 824
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Re: Building soil

Just awesome data Midoshi.  I can't believe how quickly we'll be able to start establishing these bogs.  Even 2 mbar O2 won't be instantaneous though.  I looked at how much energy it would take by electrolysis: 32 terrawatts for 100 years (yikes!  current energy usage on Earth in all forms - coal, oil, nuclear, etc - is ~14 terrawatts).  Any idea how long it will take algae to get us 2 mbar?

I tried to find some figures for back of the envelope calculations. 

Most cyanobacteria oxygen production rates were given for full sun on a clear day in the desert (they want to use them for CO2 drawdown), but from what figures I could find, there are some cyanobacteria that basically produce oxygen in proportion to the light you give them - right down to 1/100th of "noon in the desert" light. 

With that in mind, I think there are existing cyanobacteria that would generate 20 mmol of O2 per square meter per hour ( seasonal average Martian light levels, averaged over the Martian day, peaking at 80 mmol O2 m-2 h-1 ).  If you can cover 10% of the Martian surface with them, it will take 100 years to generate 2 mbar of O2.

So, optimistically, if you can find/engineer a cyanobacteria that has a production rate double that, and you could seed 20% of the Martian surface (needs to be watery & ice free), then you'd have 2 mbar of O2 in 25 years.


Fan of Red Oasis

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#54 2007-07-31 00:10:55

Midoshi
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From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-07-14
Posts: 155

Re: Building soil

Thanks for the compliments, nickname and noosfractal!

I am working on the UV problem right now...from some preliminary models it looks like an early 100 mbar CO2 with only slightly enhanced oxygen levels would produce a significant ozone layer. I can't say much quantitative at the moment since I'm still working on the model, but I'll post data if/when anything comes of it.

How much O2 does sphagnum moss need again?

Since this is such an important question I decided to go and calculate an absolute minimum based on what we know of submerged sphagnum in a peat bog. I found a book online titled Characteristics of the low-elevation Sphagnum-dominated peatlands of western Washington, which in Chapter 3 gives a minimum measured dissolved oxygen level of 0.03 mg/L in the acrotelm, the top layer of bog that contains a mixture of living and dead moss. Beneath this (at ~2 ft in the bog examined) lies the catotelm were there is virtually no oxygen and only slowly decaying shagnum exists.

Since oxygen solubility is inversely dependant on temperature, we also need to know the minimum summer temperature that moss needs. In Graham's "Planetary Ecosynthesis As Ecological Succession" he gives a minimum mild-polar summer high of 7°C for bryophytes. Thus, we want to know the partial pressure of O2 in Mars' atmosphere required to dissolve 0.03 mg/L of O2 in water @ 7°C. Using Henry's Law we come up with a value of ~0.5 mbar. This is a bit over 60 times the current level of ~0.008 mbar.

How long would it take to come up with this much O2? It depends...you're going to get some O2 from physical and chemical reactions that happen when you warm and dampen the planet, and it's conceivable that 0.5 mbar could be released...but nobody knows exactly how much we'll get. Worst case scenario is you assume you have to make it all with algae or cynobacteria.


"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

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#55 2007-07-31 05:26:02

nickname
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From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2006-05-15
Posts: 354

Re: Building soil

RobertDyck,

Cyanobacteria and sphagnum moss work well together.
Probably no need to work out the Oxygen content needs for Sphagnum in water with Cyanobacteria growing.

I agree we can help push the atmosphere in the right direction mining for all sorts of things.

Since the goal of us humans walking out on the land and smelling the roses will probably never happen, our goal should just be just roses.

To have any hope of teraforming the land we need to know what will grow with high concentrations of atmospheric c02, poor concentrations of oxygen and little free nitrogen.
Some of the other nasties like 1/3 G, extra UV and additional background radiations we will have to make educated guesses about.

If nothing will grow on land under those conditions we need to do one of 2 things.

1. Terraform the water only.
2. Import nitrogen or another inert gas in quantities at least the quantity the initial atmosphere just to control c02 and 02 levels.

My thought is that option 1 is so simple VS option 2 that we should seriously consider making mars a shallow water world, or as much of it as we can.

As a water world we would have a very long time before we had to worry about 02 levels getting dangerous, more than enough time for the import of other inert gasses.

As for the smelling of rosses, we can do that in greenhouses on the land we choose to keep.
Then I'm sure some rose company will be selling them in mall Mars, probably next to the candy store. smile


Science facts are only as good as knowledge.
Knowledge is only as good as the facts.
New knowledge is only as good as the ones that don't respect the first two.

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#56 2007-08-05 20:43:35

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
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Re: Building soil

I found a website about growing a sphagnum bog in your back yard. It's interesting to note they recommend gowing in sand with clean water, either rain, distilled or reverse-osmosis filtered water. It thrives in an environment with no organic matter what so ever. In fact, the lack of organic matter starves other plants, eliminating competition. The only tricky thing is maintaining the right water level, and keeping humidity in the microclimate of the sphagnum itself consistent. That means we can grow it in the sterile regolith on Mars.
http://www.orchidmall.com/general/sphagbog.htm

The paper about sphagnum acidity is "THE ROLE OF SPHAGNUM IN THE ACID-BASE CHEMISTRY OF BOG WATERS" at Marine Biological Laboratory.
http://courses.mbl.edu/SES/data/project … xander.pdf

Because of unique cation exchange properties generated by Spahgnum plants, they have been studied as important sources of acidity in Sphagnum-dominated bogs. Sphagnum growth results in the continuous formation of cation exchange sites at the plant apex (Clymo, 1967). Most (if not all) uronic acids at these sites are manufactured in a free acid form: -COOH. When precipitation or groundwater flows over the plants, the hydrogens (H+) on the carboxyl groups are then exchanged for cations in the water. This displaces the H+ into solution, lowering the pH of surrounding waters (Gorham and Cragg, 1960). Clymo found that growth rates of Sphagnum are adequate to maintain a typical bog at pH 4, entirely by ion exchange mechanisms (Clymo, 1964).

Ion exchange by Sphagnum is just one of the various factors that may control bog acidity. Other studies have attributed possible sources of acidity to CO2 build-up, oxidation of reduced N and S, assimilatory cation uptake, production of organic acids during decomposition, and acid deposition (Urban, 1987). Potential sinks include decompositional release of cations, alkalinity inputs, assimilatory anion uptake, dissimilitory anion reduction, and weathering reactions (Urban, 1987). The contribution to total bog acidity by each of these mechanisms varies among specific environments, and the relative importance of each has been argued over past decades.

So a strong CO2 atmosphere and sulphur in the regolith will add to acidity, keeping it well below 4.0. Remember sphagnum grows between pH 3.0 and 4.5, stronger acid decomposes rock flower more quickly; I said the goal was 3.0 to 3.5.

Neutralizing acid can be done with lime. I saw at garden centre of a store today a bag of "dolomitic lime". Quicklime is calcium oxide (CaO), slaked lime is hydrated lime or the mineral calcite (Ca(OH)2). "Dolomitic lime" is dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2). Agricultural lime can be dolomite, calcite, or a mixture depending on need. Pure calcite is harsh lime; dolomite is "buffered". Mars has both in its surface soil. Remember these two minerals compressed into stone are called limestone. In fact, it may be prudent to find a patch of concentrated lime in the soil, set it aside before starting the bog. Use the lime to neutralize bog acid when finished.

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#57 2007-08-06 20:31:02

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,204

Re: Building soil

This thread has been excellent to all those that have been contributing to its conversation, thank you.

On the note of the make up of the soil just a quick question... Is there any toxic heavy metals that would make it into the plant growth process that would be present in this newly created soil?

Would a first crop be enough to remove most if not all trace of them?

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#58 2007-08-07 15:52:37

RickSmith
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From: Vancouver B.C.
Registered: 2007-02-17
Posts: 244

Re: Building soil

So a strong CO2 atmosphere and sulfur in the regolith will add to acidity, keeping it well below 4.0. Remember sphagnum grows between pH 3.0 and 4.5, stronger acid decomposes rock flower more quickly; I said the goal was 3.0 to 3.5.

I don't think we need to panic about the peat moss (to be used as soil expander) being acidic.  The plants are pushing H+ ions into solution, a good number of them will be left behind in the water when we pull the moss out and dry it.  When we mix the moss with regolith the hydrogen protons will react with clays and the minerals of the regolith and speed getting minerals out of the rock into forms plants can use.  Also note that there are many species of plants that will grow in some what acidic soil. (Rhododendrons for example.)

Someone who knows more about botany than I might suggest some useful Mars plants that prefer moderately acidic soil.

Anyway, my point is that acids are not like some bacteria that grow and spread.  If the soil is somewhat acidic, the protons will react and the soil will become less acidic unless the plants keep pumping protons into it some how.   (Fir trees drop needles which make the soil around them more acidic in part to cut down on competition.)

Warm regards, Rick.

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#59 2007-08-07 22:11:00

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
Website

Re: Building soil

Quoting from the Boreal Forest Research Centre:
Slightly acid soil: pH 6.1-6.5
No direct effect on liming on most crops.
Fields with an average pH just above 6.0 may have areas where the pH is below 6.0. Alfalfa and sweet-clover yields will be increased on the more acid areas.

Moderately acid soil: ph 6.5-5.5
Improved survival and growth of rhizobium bacteria, which fix nitrogen in association with alfalfa and sweet clover. Yields of alfalfa and sweet clover increase.
Small increases in yield of barley occur in the first two or three years following lime applications with larger increases (25-30 %) occurring in subsequent years. Yields of wheat and canola will be increased less than barley.

Strongly acid soil: pH 5.1-5.5
Increased nitrogen fixation and yield of legumes. Soluble aluminium and manganese are reduced to non-toxic levels.

Very strongly acid soil: pH <5.1
Direct effects as outlined above for strongly acid soils.
Yields of most crops are severely reduced unless the soil is lime. Very strongly acid soils are very infertile. Acid tolerant crops (oats and some grasses) moderately well if adequately fertilized.

The bog I'm talking about is pH 3.0 to 3.5, this is beyond very strongly acid; it can only be called extremely acid. Black spruce trees tollerate acid soil, but even they only live in soil pH 7.0 (neutral) to 4.0. There is an overlap, pet will grow between 3.0 and 4.5 so a pH between 4.0 and 4.5 will permit both pete and black spruce to co-exist. However, below 3.5 even black spruce won't live. Blueberries love acid soil, but their pH range is either 4.0-5.0, or 4.5-5.5, or 4.5-5.1 depending on which reference you read. Another reference states wild lowbush blueberries will grow in pH 3.9-5.3. However, all that is well above the 3.0-3.5 range I cited as optimal to convert rock flower quickly to clay.

The reason for adding lime is to increase soil pH to the strongly acid range. Removing peat moss to act as soil conditioner somewhere else isn't a problem, the need for lime is to convert the bog itself into arable soil.

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#60 2016-12-29 10:06:07

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,204

Re: Building soil

Repost:

Lake Matthew Team - Cole wrote:
RobertDyck wrote:

Sprit, Opportunity, and Curiosity have found a total of 1 meteorite sitting on the surface of Mars. They didn't see it fall, it was already there. That doesn't sound like a shooting gallery to me.

? Oh, they found more than that. 

Besides, it's not easy to find a cm iron meteorite in a pebble field.  Just looking at the photos, how can we tell which pebble is a bullet in disguise?  smile

http://redplanet.asu.edu/wp-content/upl … gure_2.gif

But surely I'm OT at this point.  Can we talk about greenhouse cheese, chard and calcium again?  I'd like to integrate NMF improvements into our notional LMT greenhouse; and scale it not merely for self-sufficiency, but even for a stockpile of excess production.  Stockpiling allows us to consider "local food provisioning", or delivery, to all expeditions planet-wide.

https://www.valpak.com/img/print/Rocket … n_Utah.png

The images remind me of sedimentary rock layering

http://geology.com/rocks/sedimentary-rocks.shtml
http://geology.com/rocks/breccia.shtml
http://geology.com/rocks/conglomerate.shtml

Mars Conglomerate
http://geology.com/stories/13/rocks-on-mars/

All this reminded me that if we do soil greenhouses that we will need to enrich the soil.

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#61 2018-02-10 15:05:19

MarsMouse
Member
Registered: 2018-02-10
Posts: 1

Re: Building soil

Re: Building the Soil.

After the soil is prepared.

The Importance of Bees and the Selection of Low Maintenance Crops vs High Maintenance.

I'm new to this forum and I am not a scientist. However, I have a brother n law who is in fact a Rocket Scientist / Flight Director at JPL/Nasa. His involvement with the Exploration of Mars has boosted my already long existing fascination with the Red Planet. Please forgive my lack of knowledge but as Elon Musk with Space X and Steve Jobs with Apple have shown. A mind is still a mind. And an overactive imagination can be a great resource in any process of " getting the job done."

I haven't noticed too many articles or the mentioning of Bees on Mars. From my distant but quite intensive experience on a farm in my youth I remember being told that "crops won't grow without the bees."  And so, I would imagine that any endeavor to grow crops on Mars would have to include one of Earth's most successful horticulturist. Unless done so artificially, why not use Bees? If it's possible to successfully transport them to the Red Planet?

Farms are one thing. Gardens are another. You don't need a farm to feed a family or even several families. Farms are for income. Gardens are for nourishment. That being said, I member my late Grandmother's tiny garden that she always maintained next to her home. The entire garden was little more than a 12 by 12 foot square plot of earth. She would till the soil with either chicken or horse manure.

The garden's compact size made it easy to maintain. But the vegetables and plants within the garden were ( in her words) " low maintenance." 

For instance: Pole Butter Beans ( high in protein and very delicious) are usually about 6 ft tall and 2 ft in diameter. And one plant could easily produce more than enough beans to feed a grown adult three meals a day. And as long as the temperature is above frost and as long as you continue picking the beans they will produce, indefinitely. Yes, I said indefinitely. She had an average of 4 to 6 Poles of of Butter Beans. And after freezing or freeze drying more beans than she could store, most were given away to her neighbors. That's just the butter beans. Then there were tomato plants, squash, Pole Green Beans ( they too produced the same amount and continued indefinitely as with the Butter Beans) Okra, etc. 

These plants were low maintenance /high yield. While things like potatoes, corn, wheat and other grains required too much space, too much labor with too little yield to qualify making it on my Grandmother's list. Thus, high maintenance.

Summary:  (After the small plot of Martian soil has been prepared)

In my humble opinion. Bees are a must (unless artificial pollination is utilized).

And, to grow crops on Mars would be best served by following the advice of someone whom, if given a relatively small amount of soil, fertilizer, water and seeds in a 12 by 12 Greenhouse could feed a 16 man crew of Martians,.......indefinitely.  With the exception of fertilizer replacement. Perhaps Miracle Grow, Rabbit feces, etc?

Thanks for allowing me to post.

Last edited by MarsMouse (2018-02-10 15:09:02)


" A man should never allow his education to interfere with his learning." - Mark twain

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#62 2018-02-10 18:23:48

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,204

Re: Building soil

Welcome to NewMars Marsmouse....

They do not like altitude or cold.....What gravity experiments have we done with pollenating Bees?

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#63 2018-02-10 21:33:34

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,301

Re: Building soil

Hi Marsmouse.  When you are done working with Spacenut here, please consider moving to:
"Index
» Life support systems
» Living inside Mountains / Caves on Mars?"

We think we have a greenhouse to use on Mars.  You sound very much like someone who could give good advice on what plants can work in it, and if bees could live in it.  The greenhouses temperature might drop to 3.88888889 degC at night, but it should be possible to get it warm during the day.

So, maybe some of the high productive plants you have mentioned might work in that environment.

Last edited by Void (2018-02-10 21:36:45)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#64 2018-02-10 22:57:40

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
Website

Re: Building soil

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#65 2018-02-10 23:55:59

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Re: Building soil

In Robert's referenced thread, see posts # 405, 415, 419, 425, and several others interspersed in between these. These address the "bee problem" in some detail. The nice by-product of bee pollination is honey!

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2018-02-11 00:03:02)

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