This question How many plants would be needed to produce oxygen enough for 20 humans? is a good question but does not cover soil nutrients and food source for the people.

Is there a set of plants that can provide food and oxygen for a person and at the same time the person returns poop and CO2 for the plants where they can both survive? How much of an ecosystem is needed for 1 person to survive indefinitely?

  • $\begingroup$ Might be a better fit for biology.stackexchange.. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Antzi I thought so but so is the other question.it was off topic when I asked it there. opinion based $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 5:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To clarify: It's on topic on both, but you will probably find more knowledgable people on biology than here. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 5:29

1 Answer 1


You might be interested in Biosphere 2 or other Artificial ecosystems, which attempt to answer this.

While the results were impressive

closure experiments set world records in closed ecological systems

The ecosystem was far from stable indefinitely.

First attempt had unexpected interaction between atmosphere and the concrete:

carbon dioxide was reacting with exposed concrete inside Biosphere 2 to form calcium carbonate, thereby sequestering both carbon and oxygen

The second mission had some other problems, which are not very clear to me and seem to include some controversis, some of them being of organizational nature:

The ownership and management company Space Biospheres Ventures was officially dissolved on June 1, 1994.

The second mission began on March 6, 1994, with an announced run of ten months Mission 2 was ended prematurely on September 6, 1994

TLDR: Creating stable ecosystem is extremely difficult and the only long term stable ecosystem known so far is the Earth.

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    $\begingroup$ The second biosphere mission had people conflicts, broke the seal a number of times, etc. It just couldn't really make it work. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2#Second_mission $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto I could make it work $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 2:46

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