The Importance of Nutrient Cycles

  • Transformation of matter from one form to another.

Nutrient cycles allows the transformation of matter to different specific forms that enables the utilisation of that element in different organisms. [For example, although nitrogen is abundant in the atmosphere, plants can only take up nitrogen in two solid forms, namely ammonium and nitrate. Without the transformation of nitrogen into these forms, plant growth would be limited.] Therefore, nutrient cycles enable the provision of elements to organisms in forms that are usable to them.


  • Transfer of elements from one location to another.

Nutrient cycles allows the transfer of elements from one location to another. Some elements are highly concentrated in an areas that are inaccessible to most living organisms, such as nitrogen in the atmosphere. Nutrient cycles allow these elements to be transferred to more accessible locations such as the soil [for the case of nitrogen].


  • Functioning of ecosystems.

Nutrient cycles assists the functioning of ecosystems [which humans are part of]. The ecosystem which requires the state of equilibrium to function properly, restore to the equilibrium state through the nutrient cycles.


  • Storage of elements.

Nutrient cycles facilitate the storage of elements. Elements that are carried through the nutrient cycles are stored in their natural reservoirs and are released to organisms in small amounts that are consumable. [For example, through the nitrogen cycle, plants are able to use nitrogen in small suitable amounts even though it is abundant in the atmosphere.]


  • Link organisms, both living and non-living.

Nutrient cycles link living organisms with living organisms, living organisms with the non-living organisms and non-living organisms with non-living organisms. This is essential because all organisms depend on one another and is vital for the survival of living organisms. These organisms are linked by the flow of nutrients which is engineered by the nutrient cycles.


  • Regulate the flow of substances.

Nutrient cycles regulate the flow of substances. As the nutrient cycles pass through different spheres [biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere], the flow of elements is regulated as each sphere has a particular medium and rate at which the flow of elements is determined by the viscosity and density of the medium. Therefore, the elements in the nutrient cycles flow at different rates within the cycle and this regulates the flow of elements in those cycles.

" We make the world we live in and shape our own environment." -Orison Swett Marden

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