Rocks and Nitrogen

14 Jun 2018

Sent in by Jovan. At ... mainstream considered nearly all the nitrogen ins soils came directly from the atmosphere, sequestered by microbes and dissolved in rain. Environmentalists, on the other hand, claim nitrogen mainly leaches from farm fields with an origin in nitrogenous fertilisers. However, it would seem there is another important source of nitrogen in soils - and therefore in run off into streams and rivers. Nitrogen that leaks out of rocks.

A study in the journal Science (April 2018) says that researchers never thought to look in the rocks - and no doubt this is also true of environmentalists who see farmers as an easy scapegoat. It means that n certain places, where nitrogen rich rocks exist, plants will grow bigger and stronger. They provide as an example the giant redwood forests of California. Natural nitrogen in soil and rocks makes these trees grow very tall - which of course is why farmers put nitrogen fertiliser on their wheat, barley and corn fields. Nitrogen provides the bread on our table.