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NITROGEN FIXATION - All plants need nitrogen to survive. Despite the fact that over 75% of our atmosphere is composed of nitrogen, it is in an elemental form that plants cannot use. Only certain kinds of bacteria associated with certain plants can "fix" the nitrogen into a usable form, which involves breaking the original molecule and adding hydrogen. These bacteria do this for themselves of course, but a lot of the nitrogen leaks out into the surrounding environment in different ways, where it is quickly snatched up by plants. Growth in many forest systems is limited by nitrogen levels. Manure is high in fixed nitrogen, and thus, is useful as fertilizer.
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