Food production and nutrition in biosphere 2: results from the first mission September 1991 to September 1993
The initial test of the Biosphere 2 agricultural system was to provide a nutritionally adequate diet for eight crew members during a two year closure experiment, 1991-1993. The overall results of that trial are presented in this paper. The 2000 m^2 cropping area provided about 80 percent of overall nutritional needs during the two years. Adaptation of the crew to the diet which averaged 2200 calories, 73 g. of protein and 32 g. of fat per person over the course of the two years. The diet was primarily vegetarian, with only small amounts of milk, meat and eggs from the system's domestic animals. The crew experienced 10-20 percent weight loss, most of which occurred in the first six months of the closure reflecting adaptation to the diet and lower caloric intake during that period. Since Biosphere 2 is a tightly sealed system, non-toxic methods of pest and disease control were employed and inedible plant material, domestic animal wastes and human waste-water were processed and nutrients returned to the soil. Crop pests and diseases, especially broad mites and rootknot nematode, reduced yields, and forced the use of alternative crops. Outstanding crops included rice, sweet potato, beets, banana, and papaya. The African pygmy goats were the most productive of the domestic animals. Overall, the agriculture and food processing required some 45% of the crew time.