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Elements and Compounds

Is nitrate reduction beneficial to farmers?

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November 20, 2008 6:50AM
Nitrate reduction is not good for farmers. Nitrate reduction is the substitution of nitrates for oxygen as a terminal electron acceptor for bacteria. This means the nitrate (NO3-) then becomes nitrite (NO2-), and if the process stays anaerobic and continues, then the nitrite is reduced to nitrogen gas (N2) which then escapes from the soil.

Many plants thrive on nitrates, however if they are reduced to nitrogen gas, then the available nitrogen is reduced and the plants don't do as well. This is why a good deal of fertilizers that farmers put on their fields are chock-full of nitrates.