Why Is Soil Temperature Important And How Can You Measure It?

soil temperature

Soil is an integral topographical feature on Earth that houses most vegetation and various soil organisms that enhance soil fertility. To be able to support agriculture, soil temperature and moisture play their significant roles. The soil temperature varies according to the seasonal variation of the year, duration of sunlight, the altitude of a region, and many more factors. The presence of organic matter in the soil and moisture also determines the temperature of the soil. It also helps to designate the agricultural fortune of the soil cover.

Does the Temperature Matter?

There is a strong positive correlation between plant growth, soil temperature, and moisture. Low temperatures with moisture have negative retarding impacts on the overall vegetation rate in terms of crop growth. The lower temperatures depict lower viscosity of water and, it inhibits the photosynthesis rate. Low temperature also favours the growth of harmful microorganisms. There is less release of nutrient elements in the soil because of a lower rate of nutrient metabolism in lower temperatures. There will be retarded foliage owing to lower soil temperatures. On the other hand, lower moisture content makes the soil dry to support proper root growth.

It is also the fact that if the soil temperature is not optimum and is not warm enough, the chemical and biological processes will slow down. The nutrient uptake mechanism will come to a standstill. However, temperatures below the freezing point are also not favourable for promoting vegetation growth. It is, therefore, necessary to test the soil of a particular region before planning for vegetation on the soil. Measuring the soil temperature and moisture is essential for designating soil fertility.

Equipment to Measure Soil Temperature

Liquid Limit Equipment- It is one of the most prominent methods of measuring soil moisture content. The liquid limit apparatus consists of a brass cup with a crank mechanism. The height of the cup is adjustable. It automatically records the number of droplets that fall inside the cup after passing through the soil.

Soil Thermometer- There comes the necessity for measuring the soil temperature. The instrument for measuring soil temperature is the earth thermometer. To measure the soil temperature at a shallow depth, the thermometers with a right-angle stem find a suitable application. The bulb of the thermometer makes its way through the surface of the soil with the stem lying above. The mercury inside records the temperature. There is the presence of wax between the bulb and the stem to evaluate the time constant.

A Moisture Sensor- A soil moisture sensor can sense the presence of moisture particles in the soil. Advanced technology like remote sensing also finds successful applications in the field of hydrology. It is also the backbone of measuring the accurate moisture content of the soil. The soil sensors are portable probes that help in volumetric water estimation. There is a specific water potential capacity of the soil. There is a need to evaluate the water potential with another instrument called the tensiometers.

The soil temperature and moisture are the essential parameters to evaluate the soil fertility for vegetation. They affect the physical, biological, and chemical properties of the soil. The optimum temperature and moisture content influence the organic matter and nitrifying bacterial growth along with, the mineral content and the hydration parameters.

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