Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Agricultural Systems

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Date
2014-04-28
Authors
Metuzals, Jessica
Keyword
Biological Nitrogen Fixation , Agriculture
Abstract
The purpose of this research paper is to assess the effectiveness of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) as an alternative source of nitrogen (N) in agricultural systems. N is found ubiquitously in the atmosphere, yet often it is the most limiting nutrient for plant growth. Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) is the process by which microorganisms convert atmospheric nitrogen into its plant usable form. The production and transport of chemical fertilizers consumes large amounts of fossil fuels and releases potent greenhouse gases. BNF is a sustainable alternative to conventional N fertilizers that derives its energy from renewable energy sources and enhances nutrient cycling within the soil environment. This paper compares the potential BNF rates of pulses, N2 fixing trees and green manures and limitations. Through comparative analysis, results indicated that methods of utilization are abundant and diverse, thereby facilitating BNF incorporation in a wide range of agricultural systems. Furthermore, social and economic aspects revealed that there is no one size fits all approach. The case studies showed that overall nutrient budgets must be considered to ensure net positive effects and the future of soil nutrient management strategies necessitates integrative approaches.
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