Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soil Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2002
Publication Date: July 8, 2002
Citation: FAUSEY, N.R. DRAINAGE, AERATION AND TRAFFICABILITY. LAL, R., EDITOR. MARCEL DEKKER, NEW YORK, NY. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SOIL SCIENCE. 2002. P. 361-363. Technical Abstract: Soil drainage is a natural process by which water moves through and out of the soil as a result of the force of gravity. This natural process provides the water that supports seeps, springs, stream baseflow, and aquifer recharge. As water leaves the soil air moves into the space previously occupied by the water. This process is called aeration. Soil aeration is vital for plant roots and many beneficial organisms that live in the soil and require oxygen for respiration. As the proportion of water and air in the soil changes as a result of drainage, the ability of the soil to provide support and traction for animals and vehicles (trafficability) is altered because the strength of the soil changes with water content. The natural drainage of the soil can be accelerated by the use of surface and subsurface drainage practices. Surface drainage diverts excess water from the soil surface directly to streams, thereby reducing the amount of water that will move into and possibly through the soil. Subsurface drainage, provided by ditches and drain pipes collects and diverts water from within the soil directly to streams. Drainage plays an important role in managing the relative amounts of air and water that are present in the soil.