Analysis of Milorganite’s ability to sustain growth of Ocimum basilicum in simulated Martian soil

(1) Williamston High School Math and Science Academy
Cover photo for Analysis of Milorganite’s ability to sustain growth of <i>Ocimum basilicum</i> in simulated Martian soil
Image credit: Claire Casey

In years to come, it will be important to discover if life on Mars is a realistic option. As the population continues to grow and resources begin to dwindle, the possibility of colonizing other planets gives hope to humankind that extinction may be avoidable. Previous research suggests that some types of plants are able to survive the harsh conditions on Mars. This research aimed to discover if Milorganite could improve the growth of Ocimum basilicum (basil) in simulated Martian soil. Milorganite is a waste product-based fertilizer that was chosen to simulate the fecal matter of astronauts in space. We observed that basil could not grow in the simulated soil across all concentrations of Milorganite. We then shifted the study toward transplanting mature basil plants into the same soil with differing amounts of Milorganite. During the experiment, we observed that higher concentrations of Milorganite killed the basil plants. However, results were insignificant, suggesting that Milorganite has no effect on the growth of basil in simulated Martian soil. We watered some plants with a Miracle-Gro mixture water and some with tap water to ensure the type of water wasn’t interfering with the results of the Milorganite. The Miracle-Gro did not significantly improve the conditions of the soil across all levels of Milorganite.

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