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Nitrogen Organic Plant Fertilizer

Nitrogen plays a role in the creation of nearly every plant structure

Nitrogen Organic Plant Fertilizer is one of several factors that will determine the rate of nutrient release, some include: soil pH level, moisture levels in the soil, soil temperature and the presence of enough microorganisms to break it down into plant available nutrients. Organic additives also provide useful changes to subsurface conditions by altering soil structure.

The key to optimizing a plant’s growth potential and the nitrogen inputs is understanding the different forms that nitrogen can take, and realizing how each form interacts with both the plant and the growing medium.


Commonly referred to as atmospheric nitrogen, dinitrogen is the most common form of nitrogen on the planet, yet plants are unable to access it. That being said, this abundant source of nitrogen does not go completely untapped.

Through a process called nitrogen fixation, some micro-organisms living in soil have the ability to convert dinitrogen into ammonia with the help of special enzymes. The fixing (combining with other elements) of nitrogen is also done in small amounts through lightning strikes and combustion, like from an internal combustion engine.

The majority of nitrogen fixing micro-organisms live freely throughout the soil, but some are known to form a type of symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain plants—the most common being legumes.

Legumes are often used as a cover crop between plantings of high-nitrogen commercial crops such as corn, mainly because of their ability to encourage colonization and reproduction of nitrogen-fixing micro-organisms. The soil after a corn crop might be somewhat drained of nitrogen. A legume crop tilled under will help replenish the nitrogen supply in the soil and allow the grower to perhaps use less applied nitrogen fertilizer with the next crop.

                                                             Organic Nitrogen

Organic nitrogen is the nitrogen found within organic matter. It exists in multiple forms including urine, feces and decaying plant and animal proteins. Organic nitrogen is part of a complex organic carbon molecule and cannot be directly accessed by plant roots. Organic matter must be further broken down by soil microbes and it is through this decomposition that the organic nitrogen is converted into plant-usable, inorganic forms—the primary one being ammonium nitrogen.

Organic matter does not move through soil readily, so it is up to microorganisms to find and consume it on their own. The rate at which organic matter breaks down depends on the environmental conditions within the soil. In warm soil with adequate moisture levels, the rate of decomposition will be higher when compared to soil with characteristics that do not support microbial activity.

Since the rates of decomposition vary with different organic inputs, it is hard to predict when and how much of the organic matter will be converted into a plant-usable form of nitrogen.

                                                  Ammonium Nitrogen (NH4)

The first form of plant accessible nitrogen to emerge from the decomposition of organic matter (such as feather meal soil fertilizer) within the soil is ammonium nitrogen. The process in which organic matter is broken down by soil microorganism and is referred to as mineralization.

Mineralization, will occur at higher rates during the warmer months when soil temperature and moisture are present. When ammonium nitrogen is taken in by a plant, it is used directly in the creation of proteins.

Ammonium nitrogen exists in the soil as a cation—an ion with a positive charge. This explains how ammonium nitrogen acts within the soil. Soil particles have a negative charge and ammonium ions are attracted to them. This attraction causes the soil to hold on to ammonium nitrogen, allowing it to stay put and not be washed away during rainfall or watering.

How strongly the soil holds on to the ammonium nitrogen is determined by the soil’s cation exchange capacity. Soils that have cation exchange capacity have higher levels of clay and decomposed organic matter (humus) as well as the capacity to hold a fair amount of water. A soil that is sandy and loamy will have a low cation exchange capacity.

Other elements also participate in the cation exchange process including calcium and magnesium. The ability to bind to a soil in this fashion means ammonium nitrogen is not likely to be washed away into ground waters.

                                                         Nitrate Nitrogen

Through a process called nitrification, ammonium nitrogen is changed into nitrate nitrogen by specialized soil microorganisms (bacterial). Like ammonium nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen is a form of the nitrogen element that is readily used by plants. Like mineralization, nitrification is a biological process that takes place at higher rates when soils are warm and moist.

During higher temperature months, nitrification of ammonium nitrogen to nitrate nitrogen can happen in just a few days. Nitrate is the form of nitrogen most often used by plants because of its accessibility when found in the root zone and it is used directly in the production of new leaves and stems. Nitrate nitrogen in new leaves will be converted to amino acids by the energy produced through photosynthesis.

Unlike ammonium, the nitrate ion is a negatively charged anion and does not participate in the cation exchange process. It is this subsequent negative charge that can pose potential problems with nitrates in soil. As stated, soil particles also have a negative charge, so they will effectively repel nitrate ions

The reason this is a potential problem is that with the next watering or rainfall, the nitrate nitrogen can easily be leached into groundwater. The harm that nitrate runoff can cause are highlighted by algae blooms.

Nitrogen Organic Plant Fertilizer is found in Feather meal slow release nitrogen soil fertilizer 13-0-0 is available from Earthcrew by the full truckload


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