How To Capture Nitrogen from the Air?

We talk A LOT about oxygen in the soil and capturing nitrogen from the air, but is it really that easy? Yes and No. Research has proven that nitrogen fixation, in fact, does NOT occur under aerobic conditions. I know what you may be thinking, this contradicts what you may have heard. However... these really cool microorganisms called free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria live in an AEROBIC soil environment but inside their cells they are anaerobic. Nature can sure be complex and confusing. Without diving deep into the nuts and bolts of N-Fixation (for more info click the picture above) what is important for farmers to know, is that opening the aerobic zone is only the FIRST step. You cannot expect to capture nitrogen from the air, without oxygen in the soil and diverse free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It is STEP ONE and STEP TWO for a reason. The soil needs both in order to survive and thrive.
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How Accurate is the Nitrogen Analysis on your Soil Test?
Nitrogen has been a big topic for 2019. Most farmers and agronomists have difficultly measuring soil nitrogen availability. A strong understanding of nitrogen analysis can improve your management decisions and potentially reduce your nitrogen input costs.

In order to strengthen our knowledge of nitrogen cycling, we must answer a few key questions. How can we measure nitrogen availability? And are soil tests accurate predictors of nitrogen availability? To answer these questions, we spent some time looking into the research behind nitrogen analysis and soil testing. We found some interesting conclusions.

Soil nitrogen can be divided into two pools- inorganic nitrogen and organic nitrogen. Industry-standard measurements of soil nitrogen measure the inorganic pool (nitrate and ammoniated nitrogen). This pool changes very rapidly, within days, and reflects only the immediately available pool. The inorganic nitrogen pool is also extremely vulnerable to environmental conditions. For this reason, in biological or organic farming systems the measurements of the inorganic pool of nitrogen are not good predictors of nitrogen availability. Rather, we should look to the organic pool. 

When most people think of organic nitrogen, they think organic matter. Organic matter, however, can be very slow to respond to management and not an accurate measurement of in-season nitrogen availability. However, there is new research showing that measurements of soil protein (amino acids) can provide a more reliable measure of organic nitrogen in the soil. This analysis is rapid and inexpensive. And for those who use amino-acid based fertilizers, such as fish fertilizer, these tests could prove valuable when predicting future application rates.
Sustainable Fish Fertilizer
Sustainable Fish Fertilizer
Soil Works LLC proudly promotes Schafer Fish Fertilizer as a soil amendment and foliar fertilizer. Fish fertilizer is high in protein and has a perfect C:N ratio of 24:1 for microbial growth. Many fish fertilizers are available. In the midwest, we proudly support SF Organics for multiple reasons. SF Organics harvests Asian carp as one of their main fish sources. Not only is this an innovative bio-control of the invasive Asian carp species, but Asian carp also have a very high oil and protein content perfect for feeding soil microbes. Located in Thomson, IL, SF Organics can also service the midwest with affordable logistics. We see this as a win-win. 
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Farmer First
Soil Works LLC always puts the farmer first. We do not have a board of directors or investor group to answer to. We answer to the farmer. So... we want to hear from you. We design products to increase your profitability and soil resiliency. If there is anything you need, we will do our best to help you or direct you to someone who can. Together we can all grow and improve farming for the future. 
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Soil Works LLC · 4200 W 8th St · Yankton, SD 57078-6883 · USA

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