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Field Capacity

by Doreen Ware
Published: Last Updated on
Field Capacity

Field capacity refers to the maximum amount of water that can be held in soil after excess water has drained away. It is an important factor in agriculture and soil management, as it determines the amount of water available for plants to use.

The concept of field capacity has a long history, dating back to the early 20th century when it was first described by American agronomist Harry Thompson. Since then, it has become a crucial component of modern soil management practices around the world.

It varies depending on several factors, including the type of soil, the structure of the soil, and the presence of organic matter. In general, sandy soils have a lower field capacity than clay soils due to their larger pores, which allow water to drain more easily. However, the presence of organic matter can increase the field capacity of soil by helping to retain water.

In terms of global statistics, it is an important factor in the success of crop production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. Ensuring that soil has an optimal field capacity is crucial for maximizing the efficiency of water use in agriculture.

There is scientific evidence to support the importance of it in soil management. A study published in the journal Agricultural Water Management found that irrigation at field capacity can increase crop yields by up to 50%. Additionally, proper management of field capacity can help to mitigate the effects of drought by ensuring that plants have access to enough water to survive.

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However, there are also scientific concerns surrounding it. Over-irrigating soil can lead to excess water being retained, which can cause problems such as soil erosion and nutrient leaching. On the other hand, under-irrigating soil can lead to plants becoming stressed and suffering from reduced growth and yields.

There are several types of field capacity, including permanent field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water that can be held in soil after it has drained for a long period of time, and temporary field capacity, which is the maximum amount of water that can be held in soil after it has drained for a short period of time.

The purpose of field capacity in soil management is to ensure that plants have access to an optimal amount of water. By properly managing it, farmers and soil managers can maximize crop yields and minimize the negative impacts of drought.

There are many different ways to manage field capacity, including the use of irrigation systems, mulching, and the incorporation of organic matter into the soil. Each of these methods has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the best approach will depend on the specific needs of the soil and the crops being grown.

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There are several factors that can affect field capacity, including the type of soil, the presence of organic matter, and the structure of the soil. Additionally, climate and weather patterns can also play a role in determining field capacity.

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Overall, field capacity is a crucial factor in soil management and agriculture. By understanding the principles of field capacity and properly managing it, farmers and soil managers can maximize crop yields and minimize the negative impacts of drought.

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