Last post we discussed how bacteria can break the nitrogen bond allowing for crucial nitrogen fixation. Today we’ll talk about phosphorus and how it works as a fertilizer. Like nitrogen phosphorus is an essential element, present in DNA, RNA and ATP. It is essential because it is necessary for bio-synthesis and photosynthesis. First however let us briefly review fertilizer in general.
Fertilizer whether organic or inorganic is primarily made up of macro nutrients and micro nutrients. For our purposes we’ll stick to the 3 main macro nutrients; (N) nitrogen, (P) phosphorus and (K) potassium. These are the numbers that you see on fertilizer packaging, always in that order. (N)(P)(K). The other 3 elements necessary to life are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen usually found in the form of H2O and CO2. It’s starting to make some sence …right? Maybe this will help.
Think of phosphorus as the power cord of photo synthesis. APT (andenosine triphosphate) is the mechanism behind bio or photosynthesis, and phosphorus acts as an energy path or channel in the metabolic process. Every molecule of APT contains 3 phosphate groups, the same groups that are found in the nucleic acids of DNA.
The phosphorus found in vermicast has been taken from the decaying organic material that the worms eat. It existed in an elemental form within the plant matter that has now begun to compost, the worms eat the compost, digest it with the aid of bacteria then the bacteria breaks the molecular bond of the phosphorus triad and voila, new ready to use soluble phosphorus that plants can utilize as fertilizer.
In order to understand how plants use fertilizer, which is necessary to growth, we need to dig deeper into the chemistry of plant biology. Next post we’ll check out what the heck potassium does, until then, happy vermicomposting.