Nitrogen is one of the building blocks plants require to grow. Â Nitrogen by itself is too strong of a bond to be usable by plants. Â Nitrogen needs to be connected to some other elements to make the outer electron connection easier. Â In this case, oxygen.
Places for Fixed Nitrogen
A place to get fixed nitrogen is from fertilizer. Â Generally NO3 and NH4 isÂ ammonium nitrate. It's a salt used for commercial fertilizer and explosives. Â The salt can be dissolved in water and it splits into Nitric acid andÂ ammonia. Â NO3 is directly absorbable by plants, while the ammonia needs to be consumed by Â NO4 bacteria and then it is converted into NO3 by another set of bacteria. Â When the two are present in a planter, the NO3 gets absorbed by the plants and the ammonia is left on the outside of the pot in the form of white powder. Â
ApplyingÂ ammonium nitrateÂ to plants short-circuits the biological cycle in the soil and eventually renders the soil into a mono-culture. Â That's why gardens become more and more dependent on artificial fertilizers.Â The soil food web is majorly compromised.
Another source forÂ ammonium nitrate is nature. Â There are several soil food webs that uses the predator/prey cycle with a side effect of releasing fixed nitrogen. Â Since adding petroleumÂ basedÂ ammonium nitrate to soil really helps plants grow, is it possible to get a similar yield in nature?Â The answer is yes. Â Below is an example of one predator/prey cycle calculating the amount ofÂ ammonium nitrate produced and consumed by plants.