Five Facts of Soil Life
With Soil Scout's resident underground weatherman Miiro Jääskeläinen.
1. Optimal soil moisture
Optimal Soil Moisture means that the plants get enough both water and oxygen. This enables the roots to grow deeper. Larger root zone provide the plants access to more nutrients and soil moisture during the growing season.
2. Crop yield variation
Variance of yield within one filed can be surprisingly big. Variation of 50-200% from the average yield is very common. Quantifying how much of this variation results from underground factors enables the farmer to either fix the root cause of the lower yield or save on fertilisers by not wasting them where there is never enough plant available moisture so that those nutrients could be utilised by the crops and turned into yield.
3. Healthy soil respiration
Plant roots and soil fauna need to breathe oxygen similarly to us who walk above ground. Excess moisture and compaction damage the soil gas exchange. Optimising irrigation, drainage and improving soil structure for healthy soil respiration provides many agricultural and environmental benefits.
4. Soil pores drained by gravity
Large soil pores are drained by gravity, medium pores hold the easily plant available moisture and smaller class of pores hold water still condired available but plants will need to apply more force and energy to get it. Even smaller pores are still inhabited by microbes and the tiniest pores are smaller than microbes and play a significant role for example in carbon sequestration.
5. Promoting good soil structure
High salinity is generally considered a bad thing. But for the purpose of soil structure in clay soils increasing soil salinity could promote or damage the soil structures depending on the quality of the salts. Calcium and magnesium bind the clay particles together and improve soil structure while sodium ions disperse the clay particles and increase erosion and run-off.