Water retention forces

Water is retained in a soil when the adhesive force of attraction of water for soil particles and the cohesive forces water feels for itself are capable of resisting the force of gravity which tends to drain water from the soil. When a field is flooded, the air space is displaced by water. The field will drain under the force of gravity until it reaches what is called field capacity, at which point the smallest pores are filled with water and the largest with water and air. The total amount of water held when field capacity is reached is a function of the specific surface area of the soil particles. As a result, high clay and high organic soils have higher field capacities. The total force required to pull or push water out of soil is termed suction and usually expressed in units of bars (105pascal) which is just a little less than one-atmosphere pressure. Alternatively, the terms “tension” or “moisture potential” may be used.

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