Nitrogen Fixation

Last Updated: August 21, 2018

Definition - What does Nitrogen Fixation mean?

Nitrogen fixation is a chemical process that converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which is absorbed by organisms. Nitrogen fixation is essentially converting atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can more readily utilize.

MaximumYield explains Nitrogen Fixation

All plants require nutrients for survival. An important nutrient is nitrogen, which is derived from organic sources in the soil.

Atmospheric nitrogen is plentiful, making up approximately 78% of the earth's atmosphere, but it’s also inert, so it needs to be converted into another form, such as ammonia, that is more easily absorbed by plants.

Atmospheric nitrogen is converted by the action of diazotrophs. Diazortrophs are a form of a bacteria and archaea organism that grow without external forms of nitrogen, which means they are able to utilize only the nitrogen that is present in the atmosphere itself. They thrive in a low oxygen atmosphere where they fix or feed on nitrogen, converting it into ammonia as a byproduct. It is this ammonia nitrate that plants are able to absorb in a usable form as a nutrient.

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