Soils are often described in terms of texture and structure. Soil texture refers to the relative quantities of inorganic matter and this is related to soil texture, which is indicative of such macro properties as infiltration rate and water holding capacity.
It is a measure of the proportion of sand, slit and clay particles in the soil.
Texture has a major effect on the soil’s:
Infiltration and drainage rates
Water holding capacity
Ease of cultivation
Shrink and swell potential
Ability to crack on drying
Susceptibility to erosion
Soil structure is affected by texture, chemical interactions, and mechanical actions such as compaction from agricultural machinery.
Sands are the simplest soil texture in terms of physical and chemical properties - they are relatively non-cohesive and chemical inert.
In some soils the size and abundance of stones cannot be ignored because they can have a marked influence on the soil’s suitability for agriculture.
As the stone content increases, a soil holds less water than a stoneless soil of the same fine earth texture, so that crops become more susceptible to drought.
Conversely, such soil may be better drained and therefore warm up quickly in spring in cool temperate regions.
Large stones on the soil surface act as sinks during daytime for heat energy that is slowly released at night – the benefit for cool climate vineyard.
Soil texture is an important environment factor for crop growth. In large scale, soil texture is the primary gist for soil classification and rational crop layout.
But in small scale, with the enhancement on cultivation factors including water fertilizer application and cultivating planting practices, the soil texture effect on crop layout was easily neglected.
From an agricultural point of view, the best soils are those with balanced texture, containing a mix of all three fractions (sand, slit and clay), so that they are easy to cultivate but retain sufficient moisture for plant growth and are not subject to undue leaching.
In working any soil, considerable time an effort must be invested in maintaining the benefits of a good textural mix and reducing the impact of a poor one.
The Importance of Soil texture for Agriculture
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