Edaphic Factors

Edaphic Factors:

A) Soil:

Soil is the upper weathered and humus organic matter having layer of the earth that sustains plant life and comprises numerous living organisms all along with their dead remains. Soil gives water, mineral, salts and anchorage to plants. The characteristics of soil like its constitution, temperature range, origin, water holding capacity, aeration, minerals, and so on determine the flora and fauna of a particular position.

A productive, fine aggregated soil is comprised of mineral matter (derived from parent rocks as an outcome of weathering), organic matter, water and air.

B)  Mineral Matter:

The physical features of the soil are due to the size of the soil particles. The various particles that are present in the soil differ in their size and depending on this as the soils have been categorized into sandy soils (sand with poor presentation of clay and silt), loam soils (fine sand with well presentation of clay and silt), silt soils (more silt than sand & clay) and clay soils (soils with big percentage of clay).

Sandy soils are porous and therefore well aerated however they contain very little water holding capacity and are chemically inert.  The Clay soils contain a greater capacity of retaining water and are rich in the nutritive salts. They are, though badly aerated. The loam soils are preferably suited for plant growth since they hold appreciable porosity or aeration, adequate nutritive salts and excellent water retaining capacity.

C) Organic Matter:

The organic matter (that is, humus) is highly significant for all kinds of soils since it raises both hydration and aeration. It sustains the structure of the soil and also gives inorganic salts and certain growth promoting substances to the soil.

D) Soil Water:

Soil water is of supreme significance in the physiology of plants. It takes place in different forms, like gravitational, hygroscopic, capillary, and combined water. Rain is the main source of water for the soil. Water that flows down due to the force of gravity is termed as gravitational water. The gravitational water is not accessible to the plants.  Though, it is a big soil water reservoir and is trapped out via tube wells.

Some amount of rain water is retained in the intercellular spaces of the soil particles in the form of a capillary network.  It is referred to as capillary water and is utilized by the plants. Certain water molecules form a thin sheet of water around soil particles. It is termed as hygroscopic water (that is, water of imbibition).  The hygroscopic water is as well not absorbed by the plants. The water that is bound up in chemicals is termed as combined water or crystalline water. (Example: MgSo4.7H2O).This is not accessible to plants.

The net water existed in the soil is termed as field capacity.  The addition of water beyond field capacity causes water logging. This excludes soil air and therefore inhibits plant growth.  The soils that contain poor water holding capacity, can’t afford luxuriant vegetation.  In such soils, the plants usually exhibit wilting of their leaves.

E) Soil Air:

It is necessary for the growth of root and micro-organisms. A badly aerated or water-logged soil will contain more of carbon dioxide and lesser quantity of oxygen.

F) pH (Hydrogen ion concentration):

Most of the organisms thrive in an optimal pH range, pH of soil and water contains a strong influence on the distribution of organisms. Various plants and aquatic animals need acidic conditions; others require neutral or alkaline conditions.

G)  Mineral elements:

A number of minerals are necessary for normal growth of organisms. Their accessibility and concentration control the distribution of animals, plants, and microbes. Deficiency or absence of anyone, outcomes in abnormal growth.  Surplus of mineral is equally harmful. The plants growing in nitrogen deficient soils contain developed special adaptations for acquiring it. For illustration, leguminous plants harbor nitrogen fixing bacteria in root nodules and the insectivorous plants contain devices to trap insects and absorb nitrogen from their bodies. The salts of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus are most significant for aquatic forms. The salinity of soil and water very much affects the distribution of organism.

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