The role of water in ensuring healthy soils

30 Mar 2017


Water is an essential constituent of healthy, productive soils. It serves to bind and secure the physical particulates in soil structure and is the medium by which natural chemicals and essential trace element nutrients are transported to plants. Without water, plants cannot grow and all plants need at least some water to survive. Many agricultural plants are highly water dependent. Maintaining the availability of water to plants while ensuring healthy, sustainably productive soils, relies on understanding the natural processes of climate and weather and managing complex and often conflicting physical and environmental factors.

Key Points

  • Water is one of five critical soil components.
  • Rising global temperatures are increasing the rate of soil moisture evaporation threatening soil fertility.
  • Sandy soils, typical of Western Australia, can be highly water repellent, caused from a buildup of waxy organic substances on the particles contained in the top soil.
  • Dryland salinity affects 29 million hectares of land in Australia.
  • Waterlogged soils release increased amounts of nitrous oxide, a significant greenhouse gas.
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