BIOSPHERE 2 STATUS REPORT:
Biosphere 2 has met the challenge of developing a sustainable agriculture system. The eight crew members managed to operate the system producing food for themselves and their domestic animals without the use of toxic chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers on approximately one-half acre, recycling water and nutrients within the system. This was an encouraging beginning for the first two years of what the creators of Biosphere 2 hope will be a one hundred year experiment during which the agriculture systems will be further developed.
Despite unprecedented low light levels for both
years of the experiment, the Biosphere 2 crew produced about 80 percent
of their food. (The final figure will be available in October, 1993).
The other 20 percent was drawn from a three-month food supply that was
grown inside the Biosphere before the experiment began and from seed reserve
stored inside the Biosphere before closure.
The agricultural system was designed
to be soil-based. This meant that nutrients could be returned to the soil
using composting techniques.
One year prior to closure and during
the first two-year mission, the Biosphere 2 term practiced integrated
pest management - an approach that uses various non-toxic methods of pest
control that include the introduction of beneficial insects (those that
feed on pests) and crop rotation. This approach has recently been endorsed
by the Clinton Administration, and is being encouraged by the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department
"The development of our soil management and pest control techniques over time will, I think, be significant not only for the design of future Biospheric systems, but also for the development of farming techniques in Biosphere 1 - planet Earth. "