Submitted to: Encyclopedia Of Science And Technology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 1992
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Citation: Unger, P. W. 2008. Soil water and its management. In: Chesworth, W., editor. Encyclopedia of Soil Science. The Netherlands: Springer Press. p. 707-709. Technical Abstract: Most plants require a continuous supply of water for growth and reproduction. However, because water is supplied to plants intermittently by precipitation or irrigation, plants depend on water stored in soil between such events. Soil water content is important also for such crop production operations as tillage and harvesting, and for road, earthen-dam, and building construction. Water excesses as well as deficiencies may cause problems. Excesses can be reduced by drainage, allowing plants to grow, and enhancing evaporation by removing residues or plowing, stirring, or mixing to expose moist soil to the atmosphere. Excesses can be avoided by covering the soil, smoothing the surface to enhance runoff, or diverting runoff water from the affected areas. On small areas such as construction sites, deficiencies can be overcome by applying water to achieve the optimum water content. On large fields, irrigation may be used to overcome the deficiency if water is available. On other water-deficient areas, practices such as mulching, soil-loosening tillage, plowing on the contour, land leveling, furrow diking, and retaining crop residues on the soil surface help to conserve water for subsequent use by plants.