The four main nutrient cycles are water, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These elements enter the ecosystem through the primary producer, which absorbs inorganic nutrients from the non-living environment and converts them to biomass. Both the inorganic and organic nutrients contribute to the health of an ecosystem, as they replenish it with needed nutrients and remove waste materials. Biomass is a complex system in which energy travels from one place to another, and these two components are critical to life on Earth.
Fertilisers and other chemicals that humans use to boost plant growth and production are released into streams and lakes. This process can result in eutrophication of both fresh and saltwater ecosystems, causing algae blooms, depletion of oxygen, and death of aquatic animals. Hence, a more balanced ecosystem is necessary for humans to thrive. Hence, increasing the amount of nutrients will help in plant growth.
The nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers manufactured by humans are not renewable, and their use will cause the costs of such chemicals to rise. Additionally, soil acidification causes the loss of essential nutrients and results in changes in plant nutrition. The results of all these changes can be seen in the nutrient cycle. Soil pollution is another major factor in global change. To counter this, farmers should practice sustainable farming practices to reduce their carbon footprint.
Inorganic and organic nutrients are used by organisms to fuel their metabolism. Heterotrophic organisms obtain their nutrients through food they eat, or from other heterotrophic species. The former can only be used by plant growth, while organic sources can be used by animals. A third type of carbonate, aluminum oxide, and iron sulphide are produced from the decomposing organic matter in the soil.