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Garden with Insight v1.0 Help: ammonia

Ammonia is the compound NH3; but this compound usually is converted very quickly in the soil into ammonium ions (NH4+) by absorbing a hydrogen ion. (So when we talk about ammonia here we generally mean ammonium ions.) Ammonia is produced by soil microbes decomposing organic matter (this is called mineralization, for taking the minerals out of the organic matter). But ammonia produced from mineralization is usually converted quickly to nitrate by aerobic soil bacteria (nitrification).

In this simulation ammonia is increased by ammonia-containing fertilizers (such as ammonium nitrate) and by denitrification (conversion from nitrate by anaerobic soil bacteria). During mineralization, organic matter is converted directly to nitrate and the ammonia step is assumed to proceed normally. Fertilizer ammonia is reduced by conversion to nitrates during nitrification and is lost to the atmosphere by volatilization. Usually there will be very little ammonia in the soil.

How it works:
mineralization of organic N
auto fertilization

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Updated: March 10, 1999. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998, 1999 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.