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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Physics and Hydrology: Conditioners

Authors
item Sojka, Robert
item Orts, William
item Entry, James

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soil Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2004
Publication Date: October 27, 2004
Citation: Sojka, R.E., Orts, W.J., Entry, J.A. 2004. Soil physics and hydrology: conditioners. In: Hillel, D., editor. Encyclopedia of Soil Science. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier, Ltd. p. 301-306.

Interpretive Summary: Soil conditioners have been used since ancient times, even before the chemical and physical basis of conditioner effectiveness was accurately understood. Soil conditioners have included both organic and mineral materials as well as natural and synthetic materials. Examples of natural organic soil conditioners have included saw dust, peat, crop residues, manure, compost, leaf litter, food processing wastes and various industrial residues from processing of organic materials. Mineral conditioners have typically included lime, gypsum, sand, rock flour, coal dust and fine gravel. In modern times the ability to synthetically produce large water soluble polymeric chemicals for application to soil has reduced the amount of material needed to effectively alter soil properties. New application strategies, targeting conditioning of only the surface few millimeters of soil have proven economical and highly effective for many soil management uses. Great promise exists for continued development of new polymers made from agricultural waste streams to help improve soil properties, protect the environment and increase production.

Technical Abstract: Soil conditioners have been used since ancient times, even before the chemical and physical basis of conditioner effectiveness was accurately understood. Soil conditioners have included both organic and mineral materials as well as natural and synthetic materials. Examples of natural organic soil conditioners have included saw dust, peat, crop residues, manure, compost, leaf litter, food processing wastes and various industrial residues from processing of organic materials. Mineral conditioners have typically included lime, gypsum, sand, rock flour, coal dust and fine gravel. In modern times the ability to synthetically produce large water soluble polymeric chemicals for application to soil has reduced the amount of material needed to effectively alter soil properties. New application strategies, targeting conditioning of only the surface few millimeters of soil have proven economical and highly effective for many soil management uses. Great promise exists for continued development of new polymers made from agricultural waste streams to help improve soil properties, protect the environment and increase production.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014