National Minerals Information Center

Nitrogen Statistics and Information

Nitrogen (N) is an essential element of life and a part of all plant and animal proteins.  Nitrogen can be produced in several ways. Some plants, such as soybeans and other legumes, recover nitrogen directly from the atmosphere or from the soil in a process know as "fixation," whereby the plant converts nitrogen into carbohydrates, essential amino acids, and proteins.  Nitrogen is commercially recovered from the air as ammonia, which is produced by combining nitrogen in the atmosphere with hydrogen from natural gas.  Ammonia is converted to other nitrogen compounds, the most important of which are urea (NH2CONH2), nitric acid (HNO3), ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), and ammonium sulfate [(NH4)2SO4]. With the exception of nitric acid, these compounds are widely used as fertilizer.

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Lori Apodaca

USGS Mineral Commodity Specialist
Commodity Statistics and Information
Phone: 703-648-7724