Role of soil structure in irrigation management

It plays a vital role in soil-air-water system. In surface soil, structure is associated with tilth of soil. The permeability of water and air into the soil and penetration of roots are influenced primarily by soil structure. It is the determining factor for the soil porosity, bulk density, etc. Hence it directly plays a role on water retention, permeability, etc.

There are two distinct phases in the formation of soil structure viz.,

1. Development of interparticle bonds (aggregates), and

2. Separation of structural units from each other (between aggregates). The structural composition of aggregates will vary in their characteristics. Their resistance against raindrop and their condition under submergence. This stability depends upon clay content, nature of flocculation, organic and inorganic linkage, microbes, chemical constituents such as iron and aluminum oxides.

Under excess water condition – Small pores are not important since there is no need for retaining water for longer time. But pores are needed for better air circulation.

Under dry farming condition – Both the aeration and water storage are needed to facilitate infiltration and retention. In general, the good soil structural aggregate should be

• Stable to withstand rainfall

• Stable to withstand submerged condition

• Sand sized or gravel sized

• Rounded edged

• Having Friable condition but not too loose

• Having High infiltration capacity

• Having Medium percolation capacity

• Having Good aeration.

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