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Translate "Mineralizing"

Stocker Steve

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I have running across phrases like this a lot recently:
"we have been mineralizing our pastures"
"organic nitrogen needs to undergo mineralization to be available for crops"

Can you translate these soil statements for a non chemist? :dunce:
 

Steve Wilson

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I'l give it a shot but it has been many, many years since my soil chemestry classes in college. Simply put, complex nitrogen molecules are just too danged big to fit through the cell membranes in the root hairs of the plant. Soil microbes break these larger molecules down into a digestible size for the little guys to take into the roots. Foliar (liquid) applied nitrogen is already small and can easily pass through the cell walls of the leafs.
 

Steve Wilson

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We have had a few discussions about when is the fixated nitrogen from clover available to the grass plants. The bacteria on the clover rootlets form nodules of complex nitrogen molecules. These are made up of several complex organic nitrogen molecules. You have seen models of molecules......lots of little balls of different colors connected by sticks. Each color represents a different chemical element. Right? Well, in the case of the clover formed nitrogen molecules you have nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, etc. All aranged in crazy shaped complicated looking balls and sticks. Too big for the root hair cells to absorb, and it has no way to break the bonds between the long chains of balls and sticks. That is where the soil microbes come in, that's how they make their living. Breaking the chains for the bits they need to have. Leaving smaller chains in the process. When it gets down to NH2. One nitrogen particle coupled with 2 Hydrogen, the plant cell can suck it in. Least this is how I remember how small it has to be.

The same thing with the other esential elements for life. Take iron. A plant root can't eat a buried railroad spike. But it needs the iron. As water and temperature combine to rust the spike into finer and finer particles, they eventualy get so tiny that the root hairs can snatch them up.

The process of breaking things down into smaller and smaller pieces in the soil is called mineralization. Several factors come into play. Water, temperature, pH (acids and bases), soil microbes, insects. Etc.

I hope I haven't botched this explination up so badly that Dun or some of the others have to start all over from scratch. :help:
 

Bluestem

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Stocker Steve":3c5hvssy said:
I have running across phrases like this a lot recently:
"we have been mineralizing our pastures"
"organic nitrogen needs to undergo mineralization to be available for crops"

Can you translate these soil statements for a non chemist? :dunce:

Not sure what you have been reading. Acres maybe? From a sustainable/organic view mineralizing would involve the addition of the micro nutrients to your field. Most of us try to apply most of the elements to our fields/pastures via various rock powders. The idea being that healthy soil makes healthy plants and that makes healthy livestock.
 

Stocker Steve

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Breaking down big molecules so the plant can absorb them makes sense.

Still a bit confused on trace minerals. An aunt used to drive old rusty nails into her apple tree trunks to make sure they had plenty of iron...
 

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