The Nitrogen Cycle
The element nitrogen is essential to living organisms. Nitrogen moves through the different ecosystems by the way of the nitrogen cycle. Plants and microorganisms assist nitrogen on its journey through the nitrogen cycle (Gruber and Galloway 2008, 293). In nature a limited number of bacteria species and blue-green algae have the ability to biologically fix nitrogen. These microorganisms transform nitrogen (N)2 to ammonium. Lightning has the ability to fix nitrogen. It converts N2 to nitric oxide (NO). Nitrate is then produced when it rains (Kinzig and Socolow 1994, 24). The Nitrogen Cycle and Human Impact
Humans have impacted biogeochemical cycles with their activities, most notably the carbon and nitrogen cycle. The following sources for reactive nitrogen can lead to an extra influx of fixed nitrogen into the environment: industrial fertilizer, fossil fuel combustion, the increasing human population, and livestock production (Hessen et al. 1997, 321). With the use of nitrogen in the agriculture process to increase crop production mankind has greatly altered the nitrogen cycle (Gruber and Galloway 2008, 293). Nitrogen fertilizers work by fixing atmospheric nitrogen so crops can consume the fixed form (Hessen et al. 1997, 321). The Haber-Bosch process is the common name for this procedure, with the process being first industrially produced in the early twentieth century (Jenkinson 2001, 3). With the world’s population increasing the demand for agriculture products will only continue to keep rising (Hessen et al. 1997, 321).
Agriculture impact. With regards to agriculture, humans have impacted the nitrogen cycle in a few ways. One such way is planting more leguminous crops such as soybeans and alfalfa. Nitrogen fixation rates are increased by these crops (Kinzig and Socolow 1994, 27). In Brazil, soybeans do not normally require nitrogen fertilizer as they do in the United States or Europe. Soybeans in that area have the ability to...
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