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Water storage capacity

The water that is vital for plants seeps into the soil after precipitation (rain, hail, sleet, snow) (as far as the soil conditions allow). A small proportion also comes from surface precipitation formed by condensation (dew, frost), which is absorbed directly by the dew roots located just below the surface. The non-solid soil substance consists of pores of different sizes that are filled with air and/or water. The pores can make up 30 to 60% of the total volume. The porosity - the ratio of the void volume to the total volume - depends on the pore volume. In dry soil, all pores are filled with air.

Wasserspeicherungs-Vermögen - Graphik mit Bodenstruktur und Begriffen

Adhesive water

The infiltrating water first displaces the air in the fine pores until finally, in moist soil, air only remains in the coarse pores. Adhesive or capillary water is water held against gravity that sticks to pores smaller than 10 µm (10 thousandths of a millimetre) due to the surface tension of the water (meniscus = concave water surface). The amount of adhesive water that the soil can hold with its pores against the force of gravity is referred to as water capacity (WC) or field capacity (FC). It is highly dependent on the type of soil and is given in % vol (volume) or % mas (weight). For example, 30% vol FC means that one m³ of soil can hold 300 litres (a barrique barrel holds 225 litres) of water, which is an average value for clay soils.

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Dr. Christa Hanten

For my many years of work as an editor with a wine and culinary focus, I always like to inform myself about special questions at Wine lexicon. Spontaneous reading and following links often leads to exciting discoveries in the wide world of wine.

Dr. Christa Hanten
Fachjournalistin, Lektorin und Verkosterin, Wien

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