Soil Texture

Fine earth can be split into three particle size fractions: the sand fraction, with an equivalent diameter of 50 or 63-2,000 |im; the slit fraction (2-50 or 63 |im); and the previously mentioned clay fraction (<2 |im). The proportion of each fraction in fine earth defines the texture of the soil, which is a crucial property as it determines the volume available for the two other soil phases, the gaseous (soil-air) and aqueous (soil-water or soil solution) phases. Sandy soils not only have a higher total volume of water and air, they allow better water percolation and evaporation, resulting in rapid shifts in soil moisture versus soil aeration. Breaking down clay and sand still further leads to the synthesis of nanomaterials, which in turn has a considerable impact on the plant and animal life. The soil texture and soil pore size are also important as they determine the distributions of soil organisms. The classification of organisms used by soil biologists refers to the sizes of soil particles and soil pores (Fig. 1.1).

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