Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soil Science
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2010
Publication Date: 7/17/2012
Citation: Hatfield, J.L. 2012. Soil Tilth. Encyclopedia of Soil Science. Available: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/book/10.1081/E-ESS. pp. 1-3.
Technical Abstract: Tilth has and continues to be an interesting term. The term intrigues people because of its connection with the soil and yet confuses people because of the inability to provide an exact definition or measurement. As a term that describes a soil property it is better visualized than quantified; however, the principles that underlie tilth are fundamental to a quality soil resource. Soil tilth has potential agronomic, biological, and engineering aspects that further increase the richness of being able to understand the dynamics of the soil. Tilth contains the fundamental understanding of soil structure changes in response to tillage, organic matter additions, and crop rotations. Soils will not respond the same to different inputs and management practices because of the fundamental differences among soils in their basic composition of sand, silt, and clay. Improving tilth will benefit the water exchange, gas exchange, ability of a plant to explore the profile, support the biodiversity of biological system in the soil, and provide the structural support for land management operations. The dependence of humankind on the soil as a source of food requires that we begin to understand how to manage our soils for their long-term improvement and enhancement.