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#1 2019-09-02 20:49:36

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,644

Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

IMHO, we should be rethinking Mars agriculture with fewer weight limitations on what can be transported to Mars. In reality. nobody wants to eat synthetic meat, be a vegan, or slurp bacterial broth in order to face a Brave New World. I'm proposing that regulars here take another look at poultry, aquaculture of Tilapia, and swine. More spacious transportation vehicles also allow transport of pregnant females of beef cattle or dairy cattle. A real colony on Mars would thrive and attract more potential colonists if the dietary regimen were not too Spartan.

Now that there is a rumor/possibility of a Starship 2.0, this idea becomes even more attractive.

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#2 2019-09-02 21:32:30

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,883

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

Oldfart1939,

Synthetic meat tastes no different than natural meat.  If menu options are stopping people from going to Mars, then surely the possibility of instant death from any of a number of other possible lethal events would be a greater cause for concern in the thought process of people considering selling everything they own to move there.

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#3 2019-09-02 23:46:42

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 2,883

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

As it pertains to mass transport for colonization, we need to start thinking about ships that can transport thousands of people at a time.  With a max pax capacity of 100 people per flight, it would take decades to create small towns with significant populations.  Personally, I don't think 1,000 people per flight is nearly enough.  Roughly 5,000 to 10,000 per flight would be required to produce cities over realistic timeframes.  For comparison purposes, our aircraft carriers have 5,000 to 6,000 people aboard.

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#4 2019-09-03 03:20:39

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,062
Website

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

How many could trans-atlantic ships carry in the 17th century?

If there are 10 ships, carrying 100 people every two years, then the population will grow by 500/year. That's enough to create a couple of small towns within a decade.

Quails have already been hatched in freefall. Alas, only a very small number of the eggs did. RobertyDyck has mentioned the possibility of hibernating embryos before, though. If we can take chickens, then that gives us some real meat (though I expect it to mostly be fish for the first few decades), but more importantly eggs. Tilapia mayo sandwiches, anyone?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#5 2019-09-03 04:05:38

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,704

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

We should indeed be constantly examining what opportunities for growing food.

I would however point out that with both fish and poultry there are serious management issues.

Fish farming in reality requires copious amounts of fresh water. Fish are very susceptible to disease.

Poultry management in a hab with artificial air also seems fraught with difficulty (feathers, dust, faeces).

Why add to your problems? Why add "animal management" burden to all your other challenges?

The recommended individual daily intake of meat is 70 grams.

For a colony of 100 people, that would be just 2.5 tons of meat per annum. When you will have multiple Starships flying loads between 50 tons and 100 tons, I think it is pretty obvious that imported meat in frozen, vacuum pack and tinned forms would make more sense.

However, the modern "meat substitute" foods like the Impossible burger have had excellent reviews. They replicate all aspects of the meat eating experience for burgers.




Oldfart1939 wrote:

IMHO, we should be rethinking Mars agriculture with fewer weight limitations on what can be transported to Mars. In reality. nobody wants to eat synthetic meat, be a vegan, or slurp bacterial broth in order to face a Brave New World. I'm proposing that regulars here take another look at poultry, aquaculture of Tilapia, and swine. More spacious transportation vehicles also allow transport of pregnant females of beef cattle or dairy cattle. A real colony on Mars would thrive and attract more potential colonists if the dietary regimen were not too Spartan.

Now that there is a rumor/possibility of a Starship 2.0, this idea becomes even more attractive.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#6 2019-09-03 07:31:31

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,644

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

I guess many people who have never been seriously involved in agriculture see only problems; I look at problems, see opportunity and seek solutions. We are now looking at transit times between Earth and Mars on the order of 5 to 6 months, and Elon has talked of shorter transit times. Transportation of beef cattle should be not as probematic as one might think, since pregnant cows have similar gestation times as humans; pregnant females would be the only ones taken, along with a supply of frozen semen for re-impregnation after delivery of the calf. We take only non pregnant swine sows, and using artificial insemination during transit, arrive with soon to deliver females. I'm still working on strategies for most efficient manner of transportation of chickens and turkeys. One factor which would be helpful would be artificial gravity; this would allow adequate animal sanitation and mess cleanup.

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2019-09-03 07:32:35)

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#7 2019-09-03 10:39:58

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,748
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Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

You wouldn't transport pregnant cows, or any adult cow. Transport calves weened from milk, just barely old enough to eat solid food (grain, soy, beet, etc). There won't be any milk when the first cattle arrive on Mars, so they have to eat solid food. And transporting calves minimizes launch mass. Transport several cows calves and one bull calf.

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#8 2019-09-03 10:51:08

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,748
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Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

But I still argue Mars will be vegan for a very long time. Transporting livestock to Mars is a major issue, but not the only one. Keeping livestock requires a hard wall pressurized barn, you can't use a polymer film because they'll bite, kick, scratch, peck, they're way out. There's recycling oxygen and manure, livestock will produce a great volume of manure. And producing one pound of meat requires several pounds of feed. Livestock eats generally the same food we do, just less processed. Hogs eat exactly what we do, but they eat wheat grains directly, no need to process into flour than bake bread. Concentrated feed for cattle is also human food: wheat, barley, soy, beet, corn, etc. However, adult cattle can eat straw, pollard (leftovers after processing wheat to flour), canola meal (left over after pressing canola oil). Cattle don't eat hay, that's straw that has partially decayed so it's soft. Cattle want straw that's crisp. Hay can be used as soft bedding or to absorb cattle urine/manure. However, because cattle require several pounds of fodder to produce one pound of meat, it requires that much larger pressurized greenhouse and processed/arable soil. Livestock are an option once the Mars settlement is large and wealthy, initially and for quite a long time it's just more efficient to be vegan.

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#9 2019-09-03 11:46:08

Calliban
Member
From: Scotland, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 36

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

Algae is the most productive food crop in terms of harvested energy and volumetric efficiency.  The challenge is to produce algae based foods that are appealing to eat.  Wheat is the overwhelming contributor to western diets.  If we could develop an algae product that resembled flour when dried, then a large percentage of human food requirements can be met in this way.

https://www.businessinsider.com/algae-i … ?r=US&IR=T

Alternatively, we might feed algae based fodder to livestock or fish.


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#10 2019-09-03 12:55:00

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,644

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

Rob-

I disagree completely with your view on cattle feeding; after all, I only did this on a small scale (between 36 and 100 cows) for 22 years. I learned a lot from my Veterinarian neighbor about feeding and care of cattle. We do not initially need a bull, as tubes of semen are normally kept for years at liquid Nitrogen temperature. Once herd is established there will be ample bull calves born for herd propagation after the initial supply of semen is exhausted. A bull is sexually mature at 18 months, and cow calves are normally bred as late yearlings between 15 and 18 months.

Where did you get your information on feeding cattle? I normally irrigated and grew, cut, cured, and baled 90 tons of hay annually for winter feed of the herd. This was mostly grass hay with some clover and a bit of alfalfa mixed in as grown. It takes roughly 1.5 tons of hay to feed a cow 100 %, except for salt blocks with trace minerals added. This quantity is based on 7-8 months of feeding. Over my career as a part-time hobby rancher, I raised approximately 1,100 calves to market weight or for herd growth and mother cow replacement. Every rancher in the area was dependent on success of the hay crop for maintenance of the herds.

In response to Calliban--Algae can be extremely toxic if animals drink too much water containing significant quantities. They die by bloating. I'm not saying anything negative about the bottom line; it could be dried and processed into feed for all livestock. Cattle, poultry, and swine.

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2019-09-03 13:12:29)

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#11 2019-09-03 12:58:46

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,062
Website

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

Eggs aren't vegan. It's not hard to make an enclosure strong enough to stop hens from pecking the greenhouse walls.

Goats milk doesn't taste *that* bad. They're significantly smaller, so they should be easier to manage. Nigerian Dwarfs are ~50cm tall and 27-36 kg mass. Once we establish a herd, we can start breeding to larger sizes with imported sperm.

Goats, chickens, and fish. Red meat would be a rare delicacy, but I can live with that. So would chicken for that matter. We could still have fish fillets and burgers. All animals fed on duckweed, of course.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#12 2019-09-03 17:31:24

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 15,806

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

The issue is that getting bigger and bigger ships means we keep trying to fill it back up and not being smart of the choices just wanting more stuff. Making smart choices are what will be needed to make mars sustainable and not a flash in the pan which can not keep up with its self. As having it will drive wants and not work to get there.

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#13 2019-09-03 18:10:55

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,704

Re: Re-thinking Mars agriculture in light of Starship with higher paypload

I don't deny there will be opportunities. I myself noted that some specialist beef products could actually be profitable in terms of Mars-Earth trade, given in Japan one cow has actually sold for something like $400,000!  I could envisage Mars-bred beef cattle being able to charge several thousand dollars per kg.

But I just think that's a little way off. You'll probably need to create some big spaces and secure major water supplies. I just don't see it as a priority, given everything else that needs to be done.   


Oldfart1939 wrote:

I guess many people who have never been seriously involved in agriculture see only problems; I look at problems, see opportunity and seek solutions. We are now looking at transit times between Earth and Mars on the order of 5 to 6 months, and Elon has talked of shorter transit times. Transportation of beef cattle should be not as probematic as one might think, since pregnant cows have similar gestation times as humans; pregnant females would be the only ones taken, along with a supply of frozen semen for re-impregnation after delivery of the calf. We take only non pregnant swine sows, and using artificial insemination during transit, arrive with soon to deliver females. I'm still working on strategies for most efficient manner of transportation of chickens and turkeys. One factor which would be helpful would be artificial gravity; this would allow adequate animal sanitation and mess cleanup.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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