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Break Out Your Textbooks for the Nitrogen Cycle

3-1 nitrogen

Science! Did you know 78% of the air we breathe is Nitrogen, but our bodies can’t process it in that form? Did you also know that every living organism needs nitrogen to survive? Let’s talk about that.

 The Nitrogen Cycle is one of most important nutrient cycle. The cycle walks us through how Nitrogen in gaseous form is turned into a nutrient that living organisms can utilize, and back again.

 Five Steps of the Nitrogen Cycle:

 Nitrogen Fixation – Bacteria on the ground convert Nitrogen gas into ammonium, a form of Nitrogen used by plants.

Nitrogen Uptake – Ammonium is taken up by a plant or bacteria and turned into proteins, which are consumed by living organisms.

Nitrogen Mineralization – When organisms die and decay, bacteria breaks down the nitrogen proteins back into ammonium.

Nitrification – Ammonium oxidizes into nitrates, which bacteria are able to process.

Denitrification – Bacteria convert nitrate back into nitrous gas.

The Nitrogen Cycle is a natural occurrence. Nitrogen is a limiting nutrient, meaning if you added more to help a plant grow, it would increase growth. Because of this, Nitrogen is one of the nutrients often seen in fertilizers. Through a mechanical process called the Haber-Bosch process, high temperatures create a reaction that makes Nitrogen.

 

Sources:

 Harrison, John Arthur, PhD. “The Nitrogen Cycle: Of Microbes and Men.” Vision Learning

“The Nitrogen Cycle.” Khan Academy

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