When nitrogen is fixed by plants and then is incorporated into their roots and leaves, that material will eventually die and will form part of the organic matter in soil, and that will start to degrade. It will be degraded by microorganisms in soil, and as that degradation occurs, nitrogen is released as nitrate or as ammonium, which then can be used by other forms of bacteria or plants. So mineralisation is the decomposition of litter in soil and the release of nitrogen into forms that plants can take up.
Professor Louis Schipper, University of Waikato
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