Many factors contribute to peanuts’ relatively small environmental footprint. Their water consumption is minimized by their short plant size, as well as their ability to root deep underground. Research by America’s peanut farmers and industry have led to more efficient peanut breeds that have higher yields without requiring more water. Another sustainable aspect of peanuts is their natural ability to fix nitrogen from the air and soil. Thereby reducing the need for fertilizer for production.1 Peanuts have these bacteria called Bradyrhizobium which are specific to the legume2Peanuts are legumes and have the natural ability to fix nitrogen from the air and soil, thereby reducing the need for fertilizer for production.3 At the end of the growing season, when the peanut plant dies and decays, more nitrogen is added to the soil. This enriches the soil, making it more fertile for the next season’s crop.4Also, most crop residue actually contains a lot more carbon than nitrogen which really affects the plant.5

With bacteria being in every living thing, it isn’t uncommon to hear that peanuts have nitrogen in them, but what is so special about peanuts is that they can convert their nitrogen to create sustainable crops.6 When plants are decomposing in peanut covered crops, then the peanuts will release nitrogen into the soil. Then, as the plant dies, the microorganisms will decompose it and release nitrogen back into the soil. Improving the soil with peanut planting allows for them to be fixed nitrogen to be left in the soil, which makes the soil available for the next year crops.7

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As with all legumes, you can often increase your peanut yield by inoculating the seeds at planting time with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Nitrogen is one of the three most important nutrients in plant growth, and it's vital that your soil contains enough to support your plants' needs.9You can improve the nitrogen content by growing legumes because of the unique ability of the symbiotic bacteria living in the nodules of legume roots to draw elemental nitrogen from soil air and "fix" it into a usable form. To make sure your plants "fix" the most nitrogen possible, inoculate the seeds with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria just before you plant. Inoculating seeds has proved to increase the number of nitrogen nodules and has a positive effect on yield as well. Inoculant, usually in the form of a wettable powder, comes in small packages and can be purchased in seed stores and through seed catalogs.10

Peanuts are essential for the soil as natural fertilizers. Peanuts are seeds, which means that they have the amazing ability to fix valuable nitrogen into the soil. In the article “Using Peanuts to Improve Soil”, the author states, “Generally speaking, the higher the protein content of a plant, the more nitrogen will return to the soil, and peanuts are packed with protein…”.11 The same article also lists various benefits to peanuts in soil, such as increasing the organic matter, improving soil porosity recycling nutrients, improving soil structure or tilth, decreasing soil pH, diversifying beneficial microorganisms and breaking up cycles of disease and pests. In the article “7 Gardening Tips for Growing Organic Peanuts”, mentions how peanuts fertilize using nitrogen, “Other grain legumes, such as peanuts, cowpeas, soybeans, and fava beans, are good nitrogen fixers and will fix all of their nitrogen needs other than that absorbed from the soil”.12 This proves that peanuts can improve the soil by adding nitrogen via their root systems.