14 May, 2022
Soil is the topmost layer of the earth’s crust where weathered particles of rocks have embedded themselves. Soils can be defined as the mixture of small rocks or particles having organic materials like hummus which develop on the earth’s surface and support the existence of plants.
Soil structure is important for soil and plant health because it allows water and air to flow into and through the soil profile. Soil holds water for plant growth and facilitates the movement of machines and animals.
While certain soils are naturally more structured than others, proper management can change some of their physical qualities.
To understand soil condition it, is crucial to understand the physical features of the soil.
Color of the soil.
The organic matter content of the soil, the parent material from which soil is generated, the degree of weathering the soil has undergone, and the drainage properties of the soil may all be determined by its color.
The texture of the Soil.
The texture of the soil is a property of the soil which is largely determined by the relative proportions of inorganic particles.
The typical composition of the soil is 45 percent minerals, 50 percent empty spaces or voids, and 5% organic matter. Soil also serves a variety of critical roles, including:
Providing the plants with a suitable growing medium.
One of the most important components of the biosphere, it acts as a modulator of the earth's atmosphere.
How Is Soil Formed?
Weathering is an important aspect of the soil building process because the soil is essential to our survival on this planet. To put it another way, we owe our existence to weathering, therefore we must protect our soil!
1. Mechanical weathering
This is frequently seen near the earth's surface. This process is also known as physical weathering since it is influenced by physical forces such as wind, water, and temperature.
2. Chemical Weathering
Chemical weathering happens when rocks are broken down by chemical reactions, as the term implies. Weathering of this nature frequently alters the chemical composition of the soil.
3. Biological weathering
Living organisms degrade and destroy rocks, frequently by initiating mechanical or chemical weathering, however, this is not a true weathering process. Tree roots, for example, can grow into rock cracks and pry them apart, generating mechanical fractures. Microorganisms can produce compounds that make the rock more vulnerable to weathering.
Composition of soil
The soil is composed of different components namely 5 percent of organic matter, 45 percent of minerals, 20 to 30 percent of different gases, and 20 to 30 percent of water.
Minerals are an essential component of soil. This is a solid component made up of atoms. These are found in nature and have a consistent chemical composition. The principal minerals found in the soil result in higher basalt.
2. Organic matter
Organic matter is only found in trace concentrations in the soil. Organic matter is mostly obtained from plants and animals. Organic matter is classified into three kinds depending on the level of decomposition:
3. Gaseous components
The gaseous components are found in the soil's air-filled pores. The nitrogen and oxygen in the pores are usually from atmospheric air that has been fixed by microorganisms. However, due to the gas produced by soil microorganisms, the carbon dioxide composition is higher.
The minerals and nutrients in the water are dissolved by the soil and transported to various areas of the plants. These are necessary for the plant's growth and development.
Different types of soil.
1. Sandy Soil
Sandy soil is light, warm, and dry, with an acidic pH and poor nutrient content. Sandy soils are commonly referred to as "light soils" due to their high sand content and lack of clay (clay weighs more than sand).
These soils are easy to work with and have good water drainage. They warm up faster in the spring than clay soils, but they dry out faster in the summer and have minimal nutrients that are carried away by rain.
By enhancing the nutrient and water retention capacity of the soil, organic matter can help plants get an extra dose of nutrients.
2. Clayey soil
Clay soil is a dense soil that benefits from a lot of nutrients. In the winter, clay soils are wet and cold, and in the summer, they dry off. Clay soils include more than 25% clay, and because of the gaps between clay particles, clay soils hold a lot of water. These soils can put gardeners to the test because they drain slowly and take longer to warm up in the summer, as well as dry up and crack.
3. Silt Soil
Silt Soil has a high fertility rating and is light and moisture retentive. Silt soils are well-drained and retain moisture because they are made up of medium-sized particles. Because the particles are so small, they can readily be compacted and washed away by rain. The silt particles can be bonded into more stable clumps by adding organic materials.
4. Peat soil
Peat soil has a lot of organic content and holds a lot of moisture. This sort of soil is rarely found in gardens and is frequently imported to provide the best soil basis for plants.
5. Chalk soil
Chalk soil can be light or heavy, but due to the calcium carbonate (lime) in its structure, it is always extremely alkaline. These alkaline soils will not support the growth of ericaceous plants, which need acidic soils to thrive. If chalky soil has visible white lumps, it cannot be acidified, and gardeners must content themselves to only growing plants that like alkaline soil.
6. Loam soil
Loam soil is made up of a blend of sand, silt, and clay that has been blended to minimize the detrimental impacts of each type. These soils are rich in nutrients, easy to work with and drain well. They might be sandy or clay loam depending on their major makeup. The soils are a gardener's best friend since they have the correct balance of soil particles, but they still need to be supplemented with organic matter.
What are the problems faced by the soils in India?
Soil erosion (Himalayan region, Chambal Ravines, etc.), fertility deficiency (Red, lateritic, and other soils), desertification (around Thar desert, rain-shadow regions like parts of Karnataka, Telangana, etc.), waterlogging (Punjab-Haryana plain), salinity, and alkalinity (excessively irrigated regions of Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, etc. ),
Why is soil important?
The soil provides support for root systems. The soil supports the body of the plant or tree, allowing it to stay straight and vertical. Plants and trees rely on the soil for protection against erosion and being swept away during strong rainstorms. Soil provides the necessary support for root systems to prevent plants and trees from being uprooted by severe windstorms and other types of weather.
The soil can hold water, allowing plant root systems to have constant hydration and nutrients. The amount of water that a soil can hold is determined by the type of soil. When opposed to sandy soil, clay soil will retain water for a longer amount of time.
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