B Soil supports plant growth

Plant growth involves the interaction between soil and plant properties. Soil is the normal medium for terrestrial plant root growth. A plant's roots absorb nutrients and water from the soil. Roots anchored in the soil hold the plant erect. The soil must provide the environment in which roots can function.

Optimum plant growth depends on the soil having the biological, chemical, and physical conditions necessary for the plant root system to readily absorb nutrients and water. For instance, plants require soil pore space for root extension. Plant root metabolism also depends upon sufficient pore space to diffuse gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. This allows for efficient root respiration, which keeps the root in a healthy condition for nutrient uptake. A decrease in soil pore space, such as that experienced with soil compaction, retards the diffusion of gases through the soil matrix, which greatly affects root growth.

Figure 6-1

The effects of different farming systems after three decades on the carbon content of soils from broken out sod ground

- 6-year rotation

2 row crop, 3 small grain,

1 meadow oooo 3-year rotation

2 row crop, 1 small grain

---Bare fallow

- 6-year rotation

2 row crop, 3 small grain,

1 meadow oooo 3-year rotation

2 row crop, 1 small grain

---Bare fallow

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

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Organic Gardeners Composting

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