Improve physical condition of soil

Producers describe soil's physical conditions using terms such as "softness," "mellowness," "workability," or "tilth." Soil scientists measure soil physical conditions using the terms "bulk density," "penetrability," "water infiltration rate," "water holding capacity," and "erodibility." Soil that has good physical condition is porous, like a sponge, rather than tightly packed, like a ball of modeling clay. Soil in good physical condition provides several benefits for plant growth.

♦ Plant roots can grow through the soil without restriction.

Air, water, and nutrients needed by

Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA NRCS.

Air, water, and nutrients needed by

plants and soil organisms can move through the soil with relative ease.

  • Water from rainfall or irrigation seeps into the soil, rather than flowing over the soil surface as runoff.
  • Soil organisms involved in decomposition and mineralization of plant and animal residues are able to thrive and disperse throughout the soil.

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