NITROGEN (N) 14.00 Atomic weight
Nitrogen is an element that is integral in the basis for all life, as part of the DNA molecule. It ranks as the sixth most abundant element in all matter of the universe, and ranks as the first most abundant element in the earth’s atmosphere, representing 75% by weight and 78% by volume.
Nitrogen forms many thousands of organic compounds. Most are derived from ammonia, Hydrogen cyanide, cyanogen, and nitrous or nitric acid. Amines, amino acids, and amides are closely related to ammonia.
Nitrogen is taken up by plants primarily as nitrate (NO3-) or ammonium (NH4+) ions. Plants can utilize both of these forms of Nitrogen in their growth process.
Most of the Nitrogen taken up by plants is in the nitrate form. There are two basic reasons for this. First, nitrate Nitrogen is mobile in the soil and moves with the soil water to plant roots where uptake can occur. Ammoniacal Nitrogen, on the other hand, is bound to the surfaces of soil particles and cannot move to the roots. Secondly, all forms of Nitrogen added to soils are changed to nitrate by soil organisms under proper conditions of temperature, aeration, moisture, etc.
Nitrogen is used by plants to synthesize amino acids, which in turn form proteins. The protoplasm of all living cells contains protein. Nitrogen is also required by plants in utilizing other vital compounds such as chlorophyll, nucleic acids and enzymes.
When too much Nitrogen is added to the soil, it induces a carbohydrate deficiency and reduces bacterial populations. Carbohydrates are the sugar, (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen), energy source for bacterial populations to thrive. Excessive Nitrogen added to a crop increases the activity of the existing Potassium, and requires an increase in Potassium requirements.
Bacteria are most abundant at a soil Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of 30 to 1. Added nitrogen induces a sugar deficiency that reduces bacterial competition to fungi root diseases and nematodes.