N Facts

Plant nutrients are the "foods" which plants require to manufacture (through photosynthesis) the food we eat. Some of the nutrients plants use occur naturally in the soil. However, as the world population grows and more food has to be grown to feed all the people, in many situations the soil cannot supply enough nutrients.

Nitrogen - my chemical symbol is N

What is N? An element that naturally exists in air and is needed by plants to produce, among other substances, proteins, chlorophyll, DNA and RNA.

DNA and RNA are compounds in plant and animal cells that determine genetic traits.

Nitrogen makes up nearly 80 percent of the air we breathe. Each acre of the Earth's surface is covered by about 37,000 tons of N...but this form of N is an inert gas. Inert means non-interactive. Plants can't use this inert atmospheric N gas.

Nitrogen can be made available to plants in many forms. Some plants, called legumes, can collect atmospheric N and "fix" the N they need. But most crops require more N added as mineral fertilizers for proper growth. Nitrogen can also be provided by livestock manure. Organic matter in the soil also contains N (and other nutrients).

Legumes are peas, beans, clover, alfalfa - to name a few.

Fix or nitrogen fixation means - the process of changing atmospheric nitrogen to a form plants can use.

(We will add facts to this page on a regular basis. Please keep checking back for interesting pieces of information and items you would like to know about.)