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What Off World Farms Need Are Termites And Ants?

30 Mar 2011, 18:49 UTC
What Off World Farms Need Are Termites And Ants?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Since global magnetic fields are a rare asset (at least upon terrestrial worlds), off world settlers will have to rely upon ants instead of bees to raise food throughout the Sol System.
While future colonists may not object to partnering with ants (provided they are not poisonous), they may also want to consider using a pesky insect loathed by homeowners and carpenters alike.
“The areas of the farm where we didn’t apply pesticides produced a 36 percent higher yield of wheat than the control area,” said Dr Nathan Lo, from the University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences, the co-author of a paper published today in Nature Communications.
“There are two main reasons we think this has happened. Firstly, the termites and ants create a lot of tunnels under the soil when they forage away from their nests, and this helps water absorption. This is particularly important in dry areas where rain is very sporadic.
“Secondly, bacteria in termite guts are able to fix significant amounts of nitrogen from the air. Some of this nitrogen is transferred to termite tunnels, helping to improve plant growth.” (University of Sydney)
Using these two organisms, residents upon Mars, Mercury, Luna (aka the Moon) ...

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