Nitrogen is the most important micronutrient for plants, with water being the only other element to surpass it when it comes to nutritional priorities. This is why nitrogen compositions are the main component of conventional fertilizers. Nitrogen is essential for correct plant nutrition, and it is therefore needed to ensure that there is enough supply to cater for the demands of society and the quality of the fruit and plants produced.. On the other hand, if the amount of this element is not monitored, it could have negative consequences for the soil. The solution to this problem is to use biotechnology and microorganisms that can give us a biological nitrogen fertilizer.
Why nitrogen is important in plant nutrition and food safety
Why nitrogen is important in plant nutrition and food safety? Why is nitrogen important? It is the most important macronutrient for the plant, the N in the NPK formula. It forms part of the proteins which create plant ‘mass’. It is fundamental in order for the stems, leaves and fruit. to make their appearance. It also makes sure that everything works correctly. If there is not enough, the plant begins to lose tissue and ends up dying.
N is assimilated by the plant in the form of nitrates and ammonium which comes from the biological activity of living things. There are bacteria which are responsible for fixation, in other words, in changing atmospheric N into ammonium, which is directly assimilated by the plant. This process is complex, of course, and its effectiveness very much depends on the microorganisms that live in the soil and what their relationship is with the plant.
The quality and assimilation of nitrogen also affects human beings, albeit not directly normally, but rather by means of the quality of the food. The N, as we have already seen, is an essential part of the forming of the plant. This includes its proteins, enzymes and secondary compositions. These elements are the ones which decide the nutritional and organoleptic quality of the crop. A lack of nitrogen or indeed too much of it, would lead to a crop a lot poorer in quality.
This, in turn would mean deficient, poor quality food, less crop production and it would also infringe upon food safety.
The environmental consequences of nitrogen
To ensure the necessary supply of nitrogen,traditional chemical fertilizers use nitrate salts to feed the plant. However, on adding so much nitrate salt to the soil, the organisms themselves which transform this element, along with others, turn part of N into other salts that cannot be assimilated by the crop, something which is known as mineralization or immobilization..
Plants only absorb the nutrients available to them in a specific area around their roots. They also need specialized microorganisms to help them assimilate these nutrients. If these are not present in the soil, a crop cannot make sufficient use of fertilization,which means it is to be fertilized again, contaminating even more, all because of an inefficient practice. This makes the soil quality worse and the quality of the crops suffers as a result. A soil which is saturated with nitrate leads to the growth of other plants which are better adapted to this type of soil, such as weeds, which are better equipped for dispersion stealing other nutrients. This means poor growth and a soil which is unhealthy for the plant, in the long run.
esides this, nitrogenate salts may be arried to the aquifers and pollute the water. There may then be eutrophication of the water (excess growth of organisms) which kills the water’s inhabitants and pollutes the streams and other bodies of water , useriously affecting the environment.
In Spain, the use of nitrogenate conventional fertilizers is more than one million metric tons.. In 2015 the FAO already warned that this would soon reach 200 million tons worldwide. . Along with this warning came another – ‘the health of our people and the soils we use to grow crops depends on the correct use of nitrogen in fertilizers’.
We need to turn to biotechnology if we want to ensure an adequate supply of nitrogen which will give plants the nutrition they need, while also ensuring profitable production without contaminating the soil. We have been using conventional fertilizers for years, and only after a massive increase in production has the agricultural world realized the need for a change of paradigm, which will look out for both human and environmental health. And it is at this point that a key part is missing from conventional fertilization: biological nitrogen fertilization.
What do we mean by this? We are referring to the role of microorganisms in the assimilation of nitrogen. This is not something that was previously unheard of, but rather, it has become hugely more renowned in recent years. This is very much because of knowledge that has been acquired from advances in biotechnology. Thanks to the field of biotechnology, the relationship between soil bacteria and plant nutrition has become a lot clearer.
We also owe the fact that these microorganisms have been improved and included in fertilizing products to biotechnology. Apart from this, biotechnological selection has meant that a range of specially selected strains of microorganisms are in products such as Bulhnova,a powerful biofertilizer, and used to feed the plant biologically. These microorganisms provide the plant with the N it needs, and helps it to transport and assimilate the P and the K (phosphate and potassium salts) from the soils, without having to add any extra, thus avoiding contamination due a possible excess. As they are organisms that have been coevolving for thousands of years (evolving while living with the plants), they are extremely efficient when it comes to feeding the crop.
Field studies on several crops have shown that the biological nitrogen fertilization provided by Bulhnova can be used to partially or completely substitute conventional chemicals in the fertilizer, while maintaining production. . Added to this, it eliminates potential contamination produced by an excess of nitrates and helps to shift other contaminating salts. This opens the doors to a new paradigm in which nitrogen is still at the fore but people’s health, and soil contamination are being taken into account in the fertilizing processes.