All growers should grow or capture their own nitrogen. When you capture your own nitrogen you save your time, your money, your soil and ultimately the world environment.
So how do farmers capture their own nitrogen?
One free source of nitrogen is obtained through thunderstorms, lightning and rain. However as this source is unpredictable and only supplies at most 10% of the earth’s nitrogen it is a minor consideration for the farmer.
Traditionally the most obvious source of nitrogen is growing legumes which include clovers, beans and alfalfa. However this practice sometimes presents a problem if the legume must take up the crop season and has limited market value. It can also be a problem when sufficient molybdenum is lacking in the soil to have the legume be able to fix nitrogen in its nodules. This stored nitrogen then only becomes available when the plant dies. In our instant world this does not always suit the farmer.
Another sometimes more suitable way of capturing your own nitrogen involves the use of azobacter and azospirillium bacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil without the legume. Whilst these are naturally occurring bacteria in the humus they are also commercially available and when used are injected directly into the soil. These bacteria work well when combined with protein nitrogen and replace the need for conventional and costly non protein sources of nitrogen such as ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and urea.
What is protein nitrogen?
The sources of protein nitrogen are limited and some are quite expensive. One of the many readily available sources is liquid fish emulsion which has a reasonable cost and contains other nutrients and growth factors and can be used on both soil and foliage as can compost and vermicompost teas. When any protein nitrogen is applied the bacteria have a basic food source. This, along with carbohydrates (sugar/molasses) has continued to show that they increase bacterial activity and raise plant quality.
Another of the most obvious sources of natural nitrogen is animal manures and composts. Relatively large amounts however may be required to achieve an adequate supply for high nitrogen requirements in some crops. Having increased active carbon in the form of humus basically means that the nitrogen can be stored ready for the plant uptake.