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  Texture and other soil properties and plant growth:


Many of the important soil properties are related to texture. Clayey soils show high water holding capacity, high plasticity, and stickiness and swelling whereas sandy soils are conspicuous by the absence of these properties. The most important way in which soil texture affects plant growth is water and with it the nutrient supply. The available water holding capacity of soil is related to soil texture.


Soil structure and plant growth

Soil structure influences plant growth rather indirectly. The pores are the controlling factors governing water, air and temperature in soil, which in turn, govern plant growth. One of the best e.g. of the effect of soil structure on plant growth is the emergence of seedlings in the seedbed. The seedlings are very sensitive to soil physical condition so that there should not be any hindrance to the emergence of tender seedlings and there should be optimum soil water and soil aeration. The soil in the seedbed should have a

crumb structure so that the peds are soft and porous and roots of the seedling can penetrate it easily. The hard compact layer impedes root growth.

Soil water

Water is essential for plant growth. Soil is capable of being a storehouse of water and becoming the main source of water for land plants. Soil water plays a significant role in several natural processes- evaporation, infiltration and drainage of water, diffusion of gases, conduction of heat, and movement of salts and nutrients are all dependent upon the amount of water present in soil. Plants meet their water requirement from water stored in soil.

Effect of crops and cropping practices on soil structure

Crops affect soil structure through their vegetative canopy above the ground and their roots below the ground. Grasses are conducive to well structured soil. Organic residues left by the grassroots, root pressure, pores due to decayed roots and microbial activity in the rhizosphere produce ideal crumb structure. The vegetative canopy protects the soil from the beating action of rain drops and destruction of the structure of the surface soil and prevents crusting. The role of legumes in building up soil fertility is well known. As legumes have place in sound crop rotation practices, the beneficial effect is usually attributed to nitrogen added to the soil by legumes.

Soil Aeration and plant growth

Oxygen is required by microbe and plants for respiration. Oxygen taken up and carbon dioxide evolved are stoichiometric. Under anaerobic conditions, gaseous carbon compounds other than carbon dioxide are evolved. Root elongation is particularly sensitive to aeration. Oxygen deficiency disturbs metabolic processes in plants, resulting in the accumulation of toxic substances in plants and low uptake of nutrients. Certain plants such as rice are adapted to grow under submerged condition. These have large internal air spaces, which facilitate oxygen transport to the roots.

Soil compaction

Soil compaction is the process of increasing dry bulk density of soil, reducing the pore space by expulsion of air through applied pressure on a soil body. Soil compaction creating problems for seed germination, water transmission and aeration. Crusting of soil is a form of soil compaction. The crusts present a serious barrier for seedling emergence. Lowering the exchangeable sodium percentage and incorporation of organic matter prevent crust formation.

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