Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: April 17, 2003
Publication Date: October 27, 2004
Citation: Karlen, D.L. 2004. Tilth. In: Hillel, D., editor. Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment. Vol. 3. p. 330-336. Technical Abstract: The concept of soil tilth is often easier for a farmer to recognize than for a scientist to describe. As a result, tilth has been described in many ways usually focusing on the physical condition of a soil and how it responds to tillage, functions as a seedbed, or affects seedling emergence and plant root growth and development. This contribution to an encyclopedia series describes soil tilth in general terms. It strives to show the nontechnical reader how soil tilth and its effects on soil structure such as mellowness and friability. It discusses how organic matter strongly influences soil tilth. Effects of soil management, especially tillage practices, cover crops, and crop rotations, on tilth are discussed. These practices affect soil tilth because of their effect on soil organic matter. The efforts of agricultural engineers and soil scientists to quantify soil tilth by making different measurements and combining them into index values are also discussed. Their goal is to use soil tilth information to improve soil management practices by implementing technologies such as no-tillage agriculture.