Soil moisture

  • Soil Moisture
  • Soil moisture is difficult to define because it means different things in different disciplines. For example, a farmer's concept of soil moisture is different from that of a water resource manager or a weather forecaster. Generally, however, soil moisture is the water that is held in the spaces between soil particles. Surface soil moisture is the water that is in the upper 10 cm of soil, whereas root zone soil moisture is the water that is available to plants, which is generally considered to be in the upper 200 cm of soil.
Abstract from DBPedia
    Soil moisture is the water content of the soil. It can be expressed in terms of volume or weight. Soil moisture measurement can be based on in situ probes (e.g., capacitance probes, neutron probes) or remote sensing methods. Water that enters a field is removed from a field by runoff, drainage, evaporation or transpiration. Runoff is the water that flows on the surface to the edge of the field; drainage is the water that flows through the soil downward or toward the edge of the field underground; evaporative water loss from a field is that part of the water that evaporates into the atmosphere directly from the field's surface; transpiration is the loss of water from the field by its evaporation from the plant itself. Water affects soil formation, structure, stability and erosion but is of primary concern with respect to plant growth. Water is essential to plants for four reasons: 1. * It constitutes 80%-95% of the plant's protoplasm. 2. * It is essential for photosynthesis. 3. * It is the solvent in which nutrients are carried to, into and throughout the plant. 4. * It provides the turgidity by which the plant keeps itself in proper position. In addition, water alters the soil profile by dissolving and re-depositing mineral and organic solutes and colloids, often at lower levels, a process called leaching. In a loam soil, solids constitute half the volume, gas one-quarter of the volume, and water one-quarter of the volume of which only half will be available to most plants, with a strong variation according to matric potential. A flooded field will drain the gravitational water under the influence of gravity until water's adhesive and cohesive forces resist further drainage at which point it is said to have reached field capacity. At that point, plants must apply suction to draw water from a soil. The water that plants may draw from the soil is called the available water. Once the available water is used up the remaining moisture is called unavailable water as the plant cannot produce sufficient suction to draw that water in. At 15 bar suction, wilting point, seeds will not germinate, plants begin to wilt and then die unless they are able to recover after water replenishment thanks to species-specific adaptations. Water moves in soil under the influence of gravity, osmosis and capillarity. When water enters the soil, it displaces air from interconnected macropores by buoyancy, and breaks aggregates into which air is entrapped, a process called slaking.The rate at which a soil can absorb water depends on the soil and its other conditions. As a plant grows, its roots remove water from the largest pores (macropores) first. Soon the larger pores hold only air, and the remaining water is found only in the intermediate- and smallest-sized pores (micropores). The water in the smallest pores is so strongly held to particle surfaces that plant roots cannot pull it away. Consequently, not all soil water is available to plants, with a strong dependence on texture. When saturated, the soil may lose nutrients as the water drains. Water moves in a draining field under the influence of pressure where the soil is locally saturated and by capillarity pull to drier parts of the soil. Most plant water needs are supplied from the suction caused by evaporation from plant leaves (transpiration) and a lower fraction is supplied by suction created by osmotic pressure differences between the plant interior and the soil solution. Plant roots must seek out water and grow preferentially in moister soil microsites, but some parts of the root system are also able to remoisten dry parts of the soil. Insufficient water will damage the yield of a crop. Most of the available water is used in transpiration to pull nutrients into the plant. Soil water is also important for climate modeling and numerical weather prediction. The Global Climate Observing System specified soil water as one of the 50 Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). Soil water can be measured in situ with soil moisture sensors or can be estimated at various scales and resolution: from local or wifi measures via sensors in the soil to satellite imagery that combines data capture and hydrological models. Each method exhibits pros and cons, and hence, the integration of different techniques may decrease the drawbacks of a single given method.


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