There is a primary factor that tells us to what extent the soil in front of us would be suitable for growing our food. And that factor consists in evaluating the proportion of the different sizes of soil particles: the grainy sand, the intermediate silt, and the fine clay.
To do this, just take a look. Nothing else. You take a glass jar, fill it with soil up to a third of its volume (excluding excessively compact clouds, stems, and leaves), and finally, the jar is filled almost to the brim with water.
How do physical properties affect crop development?
The physical properties of soil are the result of the interaction that originates between the different phases of the same (soil, water, and air) and the proportion in which each of these is found. The physical condition of soil determines its support capacity, ease of root penetration, air circulation, water storage capacity, drainage, nutrient retention, among other factors.
The main physical properties that influence the development of crops are the following: Figure 1. The physical properties of the soil strongly influence the development of crops. Photo: Spradley, 2014. Soil color. It is one of the characteristics that allows describing the different types of soils. Soil color does not have a direct effect on plant growth, but it indirectly affects soil temperature and humidity. The greater the amount of heat energy found in the soil, the higher the temperature and evaporation.
It has been proven that dark soils under the same environmental conditions and without vegetative cover, tend to dry out faster. On the other hand, humid soils are darker than those that are dry, in addition to absorbing a greater amount of light that helps to increase soil temperature and more accelerated development of the crop. The color of the soil can also indicate its current state in a general way. When considering the color of the soils it is important to know if it comes from a recent formation process or it is a color from the parent material.
Soil color can serve as a starting point to interpret soil properties in terms of aeration, drainage, or organic matter (OM) content.
Soil compaction refers to the reduction of the porosity of the soils, increasing its apparent density. Therefore, the compaction phenomenon limits the space for the storage or movement of air and water within the soil. It is also one of the main causes of physical restriction for the radical growth of crops. The soils with the greatest tendency to compact are medium-fine textured soils compared to coarse-textured soils. Similarly, soils with low organic matter content or high moisture content are more susceptible to it. The greatest compaction damage is found in agricultural fields where intensive agriculture is practiced (high use of agricultural machinery).
LIVING SOIL AS A CONDITION FOR PRODUCTIVITY
“How can I tell someone to start managing nutrient solutions when I am not sure that the environment for the root is adequate, the soil structure is appropriate and irrigation management is optimal? The most energy-demanding plant process is the assimilation of nutrients. If we can make this happen passively, the plant will be nourishing itself with very little energy expenditure. However, to achieve this we depend on achieving a correct growing medium, adequate root development, and good irrigation management. If we achieve that, we can build good nutritional solutions ”