When you speak of Mars (and all of do from the speculative to the fact-based discussions) do you ever chat about the space-worms? What are they?
Earth worms really. Two healthy brand new baby worms were recently born in the Martian Soil. OK, the simulated Martian Soil. This is really good news for the future share-croppers of the red planet.
The recipe for the ‘Martian Soil’ was volcanic terrestrial rocks, pig manure, and live adult worms. If you saw the movie “The Martian” you may be wondering why the fuss? Mark Watney didn’t have any earth worms and he got potatoes to grow! What’s so special about Earth Worms?
First of all, like Mark Watney did, we need the plants in an oxygen friendly area. Perhaps a closed agricultural ecosystem -- one might start with an underground tunnel
And then oxygenate it….
Next we are going to want some Earth Worms spread all over and here’s why;
1. Earth Worms loosen the soil and make it easier for plants to develop their roots in soil even though it may be too hard/compact for deep root development. They create tunnels that can provide channels that roots can grow through easily, further encouraging root growth. Loosening the soil also makes it easier for water to penetrate deep into the soil, ensuring there is enough moisture in the soil to support the plants and encourage deeper root growth.
2. When earthworms move through the soil, organic materials and soil particles cling to them and come loose in other soil layers. The worms also break up fungi, dead roots and other large pieces of organic material in the soil as they move through, mixing it in with surrounding soil.
3. Earthworms eat organic material in the soil, with some worms eating up to half their body weight per day. The organic matter is ground up in a gizzard within the worm's body. Soil particles are also taken in by earthworms as they eat, with the particles becoming mixed in with organic waste as they move through the worm's digestive tract. The mixture of soil and organic waste is excreted from the worm's body as nitrogen-rich waste known as worm castings.
4. Bacteria and other microbes are an important part of healthy soil because they aid in the decomposition process and prevent harmful microbes from growing. Earthworms help to distribute these microbes throughout the soil and also drag organic material, such as dead leaves (not many on Mars), deeper into the soil for the microbes to break down. As earthworms break down larger organic materials in the soil, they also provide additional food for these microbes which in turn helps them to multiply.
So obviously, Earth Worms do quite a bit of work. And since now we know we can have them on Mars, maybe we can grow all sorts of stuff like Asparagus and Martian Tomatoes (I hear they are really good!)