Agricultural soil science studies the physical, chemical, biological and mineralogical composition of soil by conducting research in soil classification, tillage,irrigation and drainage, plant nutrition,soil fertility and other areas related to agriculture that benefit agribusiness.
Soil is mixture of different material including minerals, rock, water and air that lies on top of the land containing living and dead matter. Soil science is the study of natural resource on the Earth surface called soil which includes soil classification, formation and mapping along with chemical, biological, physical and fertility properties of soils in relation to soil management. The branch of soil science involving chemistry, formation, morphology and classification of soil is pedology while edaphology includes influence of soil on microorganisms and plants. The classification and nomenclature is based on physical and chemical properties in layers or horizons of soil. Soil Taxonomy in soil classification system uses color, structure, texture and other properties related to soil surface. Soil scientists are qualified to evaluate soil and interpret soil related data for the purpose of understanding soil resources in agricultural production, environmental quality and management or protection of environmental and human health. They also conduct research in soil classification, tillage,drainage and irrigation, soil fertility, plant nutrition and other related areas.
Importance in Agribusiness
Soilis a medium for plant growth, habitat for different species, filtration system for surface water and maintenance of atmospheric gases. Soil sustains life by providing food in form of essential minerals and nutrients; water and air to help survival and growth of plants, worms, fungi and bacteria. Soil not only soaks useful water and prevents the evaporation from the surface but also initiates crop growth, bio-materials production, anchor roots, allows transport of water and nutrients to the soil interface and roots of plants.Soil filters water to help in regulating the earth’s temperature and important greenhouse gases. It also provides the foundation for basic ecosystem function promoted by advances in natural resource and environmental sciences. Study of soil resources is critical to the environment, food and fibre production. Understanding techniques to improve soil conservation like cover crops, crop rotation, planted wind breaks and conservation tillage that affect both soil fertility and erosion are also important.
Soil plays an important role in farm ecosystem by providing nutrients essential for the growth of agricultural and horticultural crops. Fertile soil is rich in nutrients and water highly suitable for agriculture and serves as the primary nutrient base for healthy crops. Rich soil contains pH and primary plant nutrients like, nitrogen,phosphorus and potassium because of its previous or decaying content of organic matter along with minor nutrients that help in plant growth. Some of functions associated with soil include ;nutrient cycling; water regulation; ecological role in providing plant growth medium, recycling organic wastes and nutrients, modifying the atmosphere, water supply and purification, habitat for soil organisms and other normal processes that occur in the ecosystem to benefit water quality, food production and flood control that improves the economy and quality of life. Important benefits of soil include natural protector of seeds and plants; dispersal and germination of seeds within soil ecosystem; physical support system for plants; retaining and delivery of nutrients to crops.
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