Plant roots

These are important as contributors to the organic matter levels in the soil. They move soil particles as they penetrate the soil and grow in size. This rearrangement changes the sizes and shapes of soil aggregates and when these roots die and decompose, a channel is left which provides drainage and aeration. Root channels are formed over and over again unless the soil becomes too dense for roots to penetrate. Roots absorb water from soils and dry it, causing those with a high clay content to shrink and crack. This helps develop and improve structures on heavier soils (see p 311).

Figure 18.2 Earthworm cast: comprise a mix of organic matter and finely divided soil which is good for the garden except where it is cast on the surface of turf

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