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Nitrogen fixation

Nitrogen fixation is the process by which nitrogen is taken from its relatively inert molecular form (N2) in the atmosphere and converted into nitrogen compounds useful for other chemical processes (such as, notably, ammonia, nitrate and nitrogen dioxide).

Nitrogen fixation is performed naturally by certain types of anaerobic bacteria. Legumes such as clover contain symbiotic bacteria of this type within nodules in their root systems, producing nitrogen compounds that help to fertilize the soil. See George Washington Carver.

Nitrogen can also be artificially fixed for use as fertilizer or in other industrial processes. The most popular method is by the Haber process. Artificial fertilizer production has achieved such scale that it is now the largest source of fixed nitrogen in the Earth's ecosystem.

See also: Nitrogen deficiency, Nitrogen cycle



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