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The effect of soil properties on soil fertility and productivity
Well-aerated soil enables aerobic processes to occur rapidly such as decomposition
and microbial nutrient cycling. A high air content reduces the thermal capacity of the
Water drainage, infiltration and retention -
Some water is essential to enable nutrient absorption. If crops are short of water then
stomata will close to prevent dehydration. This will prevent carbon dioxide, so
photosynthesis and therefore growth would stop. Soils that retain water may allow
plants to continue photosynthesising during dry weather. Rapid drained soils may
Thermal capacity -
The composition of the soil affects its ability to retain heat and therefore the rate at
which it heats up and cools down, which affects how soon growth can occur in spring
and the rates of chemical and biological reactions in the soil. The main factor that
affects thermal capacity is its water content.
Soil structure (crumb, blocky, platy peds) -
Soil structure can be described in terms of crumb, blocky or platy peds. Soil particles
aggregate or clump together to form peds. These affect the aeration and drainage of
the soil. Platy peds are large and flat. The slow drainage and reduce aeration. Crumb
peds are small and rounded. Drainage, aeration and root penetration are good so
fertility is improved.
Extremely acidic or alkaline conditions will denature root cell proteins and kill plants.
Acidic conditions make soil nutrients more soluble but low pH inhibits nutrient uptake
by roots. So, the ideal soil acidity for many plants is slightly acidic pH 5.5 to 6.5.
Soil texture -
Because soil texture affects drainage, nutrient retention and root penetration, it also
affects fertility and productivity.