Postgate, John R. Department of Microbiology, University of Sussex, Sussex, United Kingdom.
- Chemical fixation
- Biological fixation
- Regulation and genetics
- Genetics of diazotrophic symbioses
- Economic considerations
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The chemical or biological conversion of atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into compounds which can be used by plants, and thus become available to animals and humans. In the 1990s, chemical and biological processes together contributed about 260 million tons (230 million metric tons) of fixed nitrogen per year globally. Industrial production of nitrogen fertilizer accounted for about 85 million tons (80 million metric tons) of nitrogen per year, while spontaneous chemical processes, such as lightning, ultraviolet irradiation, and combustion, leading to the synthesis of nitrogen oxides from O2 and N2, may have accounted for 44 million tons (40 million metric tons) per year. The remainder, roughly half of the global input of newly fixed nitrogen, arose from biological processes. World agriculture, which is very dependent on nitrogen fixation, is increasingly reliant on chemical nitrogen sources. See also: Nitrogen
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