Earthworms are actually vital for the survival of a garden ecosystem. The scientists at Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands, successfully grew earthworms in a Mars soil simulant.
This could be a major step towards colonization of the Red Planet and good news for aspiring Martian farmers.
Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen University and Research stated the earthworms were active in the Mars soil simulant. The experiment consisted of growing rucola plants in a manure mix composed of pig slurry added to the Martian soil simulant.
Martian soil simulant is a really important tool for researching Mars missions. It was developed by NASA based on data obtained by the Mars rovers and the orbiters. This composition is as close to the material on Mars.
Earthworms thrive on the dead organic matter such as the old plant remains, which they eat and mix with the soil. These worms improve the very structure of the soil by reprocessing the organic matter through their waste cycle and by digging burrows they make watering the plants easier.
Wieger Wamelink said water would not easily penetrate the soil and an application of earthworms will solve this problem.
“Human excrement and urine will also have to be used to fertilize the soil, but pig slurry is being used for ‘practical and safety reasons,” Wieger added.
Mars has limited weathering compared to Earth, this leads to the damaging of an earthworm’s digestive tract. But the scientists successfully growing earthworms in Martian soil simulant shows a future possibility for life in the Martian soil.