Soil Physics



Soil is a living ecosystem that holds everything that plants need: water, air, nutrients, and microorganisms. It is also the anchor for the roots and allows the plant to stand upright. Understanding the soil is the first key to successful irrigation and drainage system design. Infiltration rate is controlled by soil texture and structure. The water holding capacity and root depth determine the length of time between irrigation events. Matric potential becomes more negative as the soil dries. The matric potential level determines the ease with which plants remove water from the soil. When the soil dries beyond the management allowable depletion (MAD), the matric potential becomes too negative, and the plant uptake lags behind the crop water demand. One way to prevent excessive soil moisture depletion is to monitor the soil with soil moisture sensors. The soil moisture depletion can also be calculated based on the field capacity, permanent wilting point, and rate of evapotranspiration. The following soil parameters are reviewed in this chapter: soil layering, soil texture and structure, root zone depth, soil water holding capacity, and infiltration rate.


Soil physics Soil texture Soil structure Soil-water Soil-water potential Infiltration 

References and Resources

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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