What is nitrogen fixation and why is it important for your crops? How can plants absorb nitrogen and benefit from it? Here we’ll discuss the process of nitrogen fixation and its importance as an essential plant nutrient.
The Importance of Nitrogen
Nitrogen is an element found in greatest abundance in the air of our atmosphere. As a relatively inert element, it creates few compounds with other elements. Nitrogen is essential to the growth of living things, but most organisms cannot absorb nitrogen if it’s not combined with another element. Plants absorb nitrogen in two forms, nitrates and aqua ammonia.
In order to achieve these plant-available forms, nitrogen goes through “fixation,” a microbiological metabolic process essential to the nitrogen cycle and to successful plant absorption. Fixation naturally occurs with the help of microorganisms. At Soil Technologies Corp., our Microp products are composed of natural nitrogen fixing microorganisms in concentrated quantity, used as a soil inoculant, for ultimate support of nitrogen availability in the farm field.
How Nitrogen Fixation Works
In the process of fixation, the nitrogen in the air is reduced through enzymatic processes in the cell of a microorganism. Nitrogen gets reduced to aqua ammonia (NOH4), one of the compounds that plants can use. The intake of nitrogen through aqua ammonia benefits the chemistry of the plant as well as that of the soil in which it grows.
A common group of microorganisms that initiate nitrogen fixation are of the genera Rhizobium, Azotobacter, and Clostridium. The family of cyanobacteria, which is often referred to as blue-green algae, is an important type of microorganism that performs nitrogen fixation. Cyanobacteria function like plants, performing photosynthesis, rather than feeding on other organic matter, to create energy. They are free living (host independent) and are an important type of bacteria that can reduce atmospheric nitrogen into aqua ammonia.
A special thick-walled cell in the chain structure of cyanobacteria contains the enzyme nitrogenase, produced within this special cell’s unique oxygen-free environment. The cell wall will not take in oxygen from the air it comes in contact with, but it will take in nitrogen. The nitrogenase enzyme is what converts the incoming nitrogen to its liquid, plant-available form. The cyanobacteria organism secretes its accumulated supply of aqua ammonia into the soil chemistry. This process is typically referred to as biofertilization.
How We Harness Biofertilization
At Soil Technologies Corp., we use these same cyanobacteria found in nature in our Microp products. Hundreds of millions of living cyanobacteria cells are contained in the powdered product, which is mixed with water and applied to the soil surface. The large quantity of cyanobacteria perform essential nitrogen fixation alongside your regular crop, occupying the upper inch of soil, through rapid cell division they functionally work to improve soil conditions and plant growth. Biofertilization can thus replace or accompany compost or other fertilizers for your land.
Unlike a cover crop, the cyanobacteria in Microp works while your regular crop is growing, without the need to plow or wait for a decomposition period. The microorganisms and plants work together as they both perform photosynthesis. The bacteria takes in air and produces nitrogen that the plant can absorb, plus secretes copious quantities of polysaccharide biochemistry. This, in turn, improves soil structure and aids in the plant’s growth throughout the season. When the bacteria eventually die, further nitrogen, carbon, and other nutrients are distributed to the soil.
At Soil Technologies Corp., we’ve been producing natural agricultural products for more than 30 years. We understand the science behind essential plant nutrients and trust the power of microorganisms to naturally fix nitrogen. This is why we’ve created Microp and other products to help soil and plants thrive from year to year.