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close this bookBetter Farming Series 04 - The Soil: How the Soil is Made up (FAO - INADES, 1976, 37 p.)
close this folderWater in the soil
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View the documentCirculation of water in the soil
View the documentPractical advice

Circulation of water in the soil

· Water goes from above downward during the rainy season.

Water enters easily into soil which has a good structure.
It also enters easily into light soils.
Water enters badly into a soil which has a bad structure, into soil which is too dense.

· Water goes from below upward during the dry season.

Let us make an experiment.
Put a little water in a plate.
Take some lumps of earth from three different fields.
Put these lumps in the plate.

What do we see?

In each of the lumps the water rises higher than it is in the plate.
In the same way, the water rises from the wet subsoil up to the roots.
In some lumps the water rises more quickly.
In clay soils the water rises more quickly than in silty soils.

· In soils with a good structure, water rises more quickly than in soils with a bad structure.

If the structure of the soil is good, the water goes in better and stays there; the earth builds up reserves.
A clay soil holds water better than a sandy soil.
When it rains a lot the water may sink very deep into the earth.
If it meets an impermeable layer of soil, it remains there.
When we dig a well, we may find this water.

In the dry season; In the rainy season

· Water goes sideways.

Let us make a hole in the earth and then pour water into the hole.
The water goes into the hole from above downward, but it also makes the sides of the hole wet.
In the soil water also goes sideways.

Practical advice