Ammonification is a very important stage in the nitrogen cycle, a natural cycle which makes the Earth's supply of nitrogen available to organisms which need it, such as plants. Ammonification occurs in the soil, in an aerobic environment which gives the bacteria and other microorganisms oxygen to work with. The process of ammonification is the result of the breakdown of organic matter such as dead animals and plants or waste materials like excrement. Once ammonification has been accomplished, the next stage, nitrification, can occur. In nitrification, the ammonia is used for energy by other microorganisms which in turn produce nitrogen as a byproduct. Some of that nitrogen is taken in by plants in the area, and some of it escapes into the atmosphere. Bacteria and fungi convert the residues to NH3, this dissolves to form NH4+. The bacteria responsible for nitrification are very sensitive to acidity, so this process does not occur at significant rates in acidic soil or water. This is the reason why plants of acidic habitats must be capable of utilizing ammonium as their source of nitrogen nutrition. Because approximately 80% of the molecules in Earth's atmosphere are made of two nitrogen atoms bonded together (N2), it is very common to find Nitrogen in things like the soil of plants and even in dead bodies where ammonifcation occurs. The residence time of reactive nitrogen in vegetation and soils can vary over a wide range of values, depending on vegetation and its age, affecting the permanence of the biospheric sink. None of these fluxes can be estimated precisely; the goal is to provide preliminary estimates of their relative role, which can indicate potential policy solutions to the global nitrogen problem. Ammonification definitely affects atmospheric Nitrogen. Ammonification produces NH4 which converts to nitrite which converts to nitrate which is denitrificated into Nitrogen (N2).
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