Rhizobia = Free Nitrogen!

Nitrogen is one of the most important macronutrients for plant growth and ever since Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch invented a process that can produce nitrogen out of “thin air” we've been making, bagging and then applying more nitrogen to our fields and pasture. The process earned its inventors two Noble Prizes and was arguably one of the highest contributions to humanity in the last 200 years because, it enabled the production of nitrogen fertilizer which helped increased food production, allowing population to rise to a current 7 billion. But making fertilizer via the Haber-Bosch process requires vast amounts of energy (up to 3,600 psi of pressure and up to 1,022 ̊F). So is there some cheaper, more natural way to get the same results? If you're thinking ‘germs or microbes’ you're right! A good example is a soil bacterium genus Rhizobia, that associates with legume roots in a a mutually beneficial partnership. Rhizobia "infects" legume roots looking for the energy it needs to live (stored in plant sugars or carbohydrates). In return, rhizobia is sequesters nitrogen from the atmosphere, making it available to plants for free. This is equivalent to having a nitrogen factory right in your soil! To obtain this benefit, if specific soil bacteria is not present in the soil, we inoculate legume seeds. Each legume seed has its own p

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