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WHAT IS FERTILIZER? Fertilizer is any substance or material added to soil that promotes plant growth. There are many varieties of Nawóz na wzrost, and most contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). In fact, fertilizers sold in stores have an N-P-K ratio on their packaging. Fertilizers are applied all around the world to keep lawns green and to produce more crops in agricultural fields. Fertilizers can be divided into three groups:

  1. Mineral fertilizers (phosphorus and potash) are mined from the environment and crushed or chemically treated before being applied.
  2. Organic fertilizers (manure and compost) are made from animal feces, and plant or animal decomposed matter.
  3. Industrial fertilizers (ammonium phosphate, urea, ammonium nitrate) are produced industrially by humans through chemical reactions.

While organic and mineral fertilizers have been used to increase crop yields in agriculture for a long time, industrial fertilizers are a relatively new development. Even so, industrial fertilizers are the most widely used fertilizers today. WHY DO WE NEED NITROGEN-CONTAINING FERTILIZERS? Nitrogen is one of the elements, or nutrients, that all living things (microorganisms, plants, and animals) need to grow. Although, there is a lot of nitrogen all around us (~78% of the air we breathe), most of the nitrogen on Earth is present as a colorless and odorless gas, called nitrogen gas (N2). Unfortunately, plants and animals cannot directly use nitrogen gas. As humans, we get our nitrogen from the food we eat. High protein foods like meat, fish, nuts, or beans are high in nitrogen. Plants get their nitrogen from the soil and nitrogen is the most common nutrient to limit plant growth. There are two ways nitrogen gas is naturally transformed or “fixed” into nitrogen-containing compounds that can end up in soil, without human intervention:

  1. Lightning: Lightning strikes generate enough energy to split nitrogen gas in the atmosphere creating nitrogen-containing compounds, which end up in soil.
  2. Biological nitrogen fixation: Some microorganisms can use nitrogen gas directly as a nutrient. These specialized microorganisms convert nitrogen gas to ammonium (NH4+) and are called “nitrogen fixers.” Some nitrogen-fixing microorganisms live in soil, and some can form a close relationship with the roots of certain plants, like beans or clover.

However, even with all this natural nitrogen fixatixation HOW ARE NITROGEN-CONTAINING INDUSTRIAL FERTILIZERS PRODUCED? As mentioned, most nitrogen on Earth is present as nitrogen gas, which is unusable for plants and animals. In the early 1900’s, scientists discovered how to transform nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into nitrogen-containing compounds that could be used to fertilize soils. This industrial fixation is called the Haber-Bosch process This industrial fixation of nitrogen is performed in chemical laboratories and large factories all over the world. The Haber-Bosch process requires that nitrogen gas be mixed with hydrogen gas (H2) and put under enormous pressure (200 times atmospheric pressure). This is the pressure you would feel if you dove 2,000 meters (~6,500 feet) underneath the sea, which is a longer distance than 6 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of one another! This pressurized gas mixture is then heated to very high temperatures (450°C/842°F). Sustaining these high pressures and temperatures requires a huge amount of energy. The Haber-Bosch process is estimated to consume 1–2% of the world’s energy supply each year. WHY DO WE USE SO MUCH NITROGEN-CONTAINING INDUSTRIAL FERTILIZER? The short answer is that nitrogen-

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