By way of background, nitrogen is one of the three most important minerals that plants need to grow, and the basis of the protein we require in our diets. Some plants call legumes “fix” their own nitrogen with the help through a mutualistic relationship with a particular kind of bacteria. From an environmental point of view, this sort of biological nitrogen fixation is the best way to make nitrogen fertilizer. US farmers already plant about 100 million acres of legume crops (soybeans, alfalfa...). We could probably supply a fair amount of additional nitrogen if legume-containing winter cover crop mixes were more broadly used. Still, to grow our conventional crops like corn, wheat, barley, fruits, most vegetables.... we need to make synthetic nitrogen. Even organic is dependent on that flow (see previous post, Cows Don’t Make Fertilizer).
The Answer My Friend, Is Blowin' In The Wind
Wind turbine image from SustainableDevelopment's photostream
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