There are over 500 different amino acids on the Earth. Approximately 23 amino acids are essential for the growth and health of humans, animals and plants. Amino acids are the basis of all life on Earth. They are literally vital. Humans and animals cannot produce amino acids on their own. They need to get amino acids from food. By combining amino acids in one way or another, humans and animals can produce proteins. Most plants produce amino acids on their own as needed. This is difficult for crops such as arable and horticultural crops, which need to be particularly productive because the production of amino acids is energy intensive. In soils rich in organic matter, plants obtain most of the essential amino acids from decomposed organic matter.