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What Are Soil Aggregates?
July 29, 2019

The ground beneath your feet might seem like a uniform material, but it’s really a mixture of soil particles, organic matter, and other mineral/organic components. For a soil to be healthy, it must have good structure. Soil is made up of a combination of primary particles – sand, silt and clay. These particles can be bound together into what soil scientists call “aggregates.” The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) recent Soils Matter blog looks at soil aggregates and their importance in healthy soil.

Soil aggregates retained on a 4.75 mm sieve after wet sieving experiment. Credit: Nall Moonilall

“Soil aggregates are formed through physical, chemical and biological activity belowground,” says blogger Nall I. Moonilall, Ohio State University. “The second part of aggregate formation deals with cementation.” Minerals, and even glue-like materials for soil microorganisms and fauna facilitate this step.

“Soil aggregates play a major role in soil structure formation and soil health,” says Moonilall. “In agriculture, the stability of aggregates is critical to how well an agroecosystem will function. The pore spaces in soil influence air and water storage, and gaseous exchange. They create habitat for soil microorganisms, and allow for plant root development and penetration. They also assist in nutrient cycling and transport. Soils that have high aggregate stability are less susceptible to erosion. They hold their shape when exposed to disruptive forces, like water, and do not easily break apart.”

Read the entire post here.

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