Physical properties of soils

The physical properties of soils, in order of decreasing importance, are texturestructuredensityporosityconsistencytemperaturecolour and resistivity. Most of these determine the aeration of the soil and the ability of water to infiltrate and to be held in the soil. Soil texture is determined by the relative proportion of the three kinds of soil particles, called soil “separates”: sand, silt, and clay. Larger soil structures called “peds” are created from the separates when iron oxides, carbonates, clay, and silica with the organic constituent humus, coat particles and cause them to adhere into larger, relatively stable secondary structures. Soil density, particularly bulk density, is a measure of soil compaction. Soil porosity consists of the part of the soil volume occupied by air and water. Soil consistency is the ability of soil to stick together. Soil temperature and colour are self-defining. Resistivity refers to the resistance to conduction of electric currents and affects the rate of corrosion of metal and concrete structures. The properties may vary through the depth of a soil profile.

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